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Education is not a one type fits all. There are various ways of teaching children and one of them is the Montessori method created by Dr. Maria Montessori. This method is characterized by providing the children with a prepared environment. This means the classroom is tidy, simple, and real, as well as pleasing in appearance where each element exists for a reason in helping the development of the child. A Montessori classroom consists of mixed ages that are grouped in periods of 3 years and goes from birth to 18 years of age. This helps the children naturally learn socialization, respect, and solidarity between each other.
The prepared environment gives the child the freedom and opportunity to commit to a chosen lesson that they have selected themselves. From this ensues long periods of concentration which should not be interrupted. This freedom allows the child to live in harmony with others in the small society they belong to in the classroom.
The adult/teacher is only a guide and an observer. With their efforts, they help stimulate the child. This encourages how the child acts and thinks on their own, as well as developing confidence and inner discipline.
The Montessori Environment
A Montessori classroom is spacious, open, tidy, simple, and pleasing in appearance. Each of these elements exists for a reason which helps the child’s development. The environment is proportionate to the child’s height and size where they can sit individually to explore or with a group. This helps promote the child’s independence in the exploring and learning process. The freedom allows each child to find activities that respond to their own interests and needs.
The classroom is divided into separate sections, each with its own theme. In these sections, the set up is done according to the theme itself. The child can work in these areas either alone or with others. If they chose to work alone, this area allows them to have freedom in their own style and rhythm. Once the child is finished using the materials in the area they were in, they are to put anything they used back in its place so that the next child can use it.
The classroom is also divided into separate age groups. One for those younger than three, ages 3-6, ages 6-9, and ages 9-13. Mixed age classrooms offer spontaneous cooperation between the children where they have the desire to learn. They also gain mutual respect for one another as well as deep knowledge in the process of teaching others.
Montessori Materials in the Classroom
The materials used in a Montessori classroom help the child explore in a more independent way. Repetition of similar materials are made available which helps promote the child’s concentration. These materials also have ‘control over error.’ This is where it shows the child if they used it correctly. This way the child learns from their mistakes which is part of the learning process. With the Montessori method, as much as each child is responsible for his/her learning, these materials establish a positive attitude which helps them develop self confidence.
The Montessori Method and the Child
Dr. Montessori felt and believed that every educator should follow the child as well as recognize the needs and characteristics of each age. A child’s development emerges from the environment they are in. This is why the educator should build a favorable environment, both physically and spiritually.
Development starts from birth and continues throughout the child’s years. The first part of development is called the ‘Absorbent Mind’ which is until the age of 6. The child learns by taking in everything, good or bad, and absorbs every aspect of it. Next is the ‘Rational Mind’ from ages 6-12. This part of development is where the child has a rational mind to explore with imagination and abstract thinking. The third stage is called the ‘Humanistic Mind’ from ages 12-18. Here the teenager has the desire to understand humanity and contribute to their society. The last stage is ‘Specialist Mind’ from ages 18-24 where the adult explores the world and finding their place in it.
The Adult in A Montessori Classroom
A Montessori teacher is called a ‘directress.’ The directress observes each child and their capabilities and interests. They intervene as little as possible in the child’s development as it allows the child to act and think for themselves. The directress also does not give any awards or punishments.
Based on the development of each individual child, when they are ready for a lesson the directress introduces new materials and activities. This is done with the child individually or as a group. With older children, the directress helps the child make a list for that week of different objectives that are to be done. It is then the child’s responsibility to achieve these tasks for that week.
The Montessori Method fosters an extremely thorough self-motivated growth for children and adolescents. This is in all areas of their development such as social, physical, emotional, and cognitive. The goal of the Montessori method is to nurture each individual child’s desire for knowledge, understanding, and respect. With this method of learning, the child will learn to develop a strong sense of self which will help them thrive in the real world.
WANT TO READ MORE?
Check out this article on HOW TO CHOSE A HOMESCHOOL CURRICULUM.
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Sources: The Montessori Method