Benefits of a Montessori Environment

As we all get back into the rhythm of the new school year we are pulling from our archives to dive into some of the basics of Montessori. Today we are looking at the benefits of a Montessori environment. 

How does the Montessori method provide the most optimal environment for the development of the child?

• Montessori teachers are trained to have a clear understanding of attachment, exploration, self-help skills, empowerment, pro-social skills, problem solving skills, self-esteem, and resiliency.

• The Montessori method individualizes learning through children’s interactions with the materials as they proceed at their own rates of mastery.

• Individualized instruction provides opportunities for development of many skills, such as physical coordination, perception, attention, memory, language, logical thinking, and imagination.

• Multi-aged Montessori classroom (children are with their classmates and teacher for a three year span) provides a continuity of care, fostering attachments and promoting trust.

• Children learn virtue, empathy and kindness through social and emotional guidance during group meetings and through grace and courtesy lessons.

• Montessori materials are designed to foster concentration, coordination, independence, order, and a respect for all living things.

• Children in a Montessori environment are active learners and are productively engaged throughout their work time.

• Montessori lessons are designed to make the most of the critical early years for learning linguistically, cognitively, socially, emotionally, and physically.

A Philosophy of a Montessori Classroom

The following post is by Jessica Stellato, Lower Elementary Lead in the Galaxy Room at Montessori Academy at Sharon Springs in Cumming, Georgia. She shares a big-picture look at the philosophy behind the Montessori classroom experience.

Often parents wonder:

What is Montessori?

What is my child going to learn in a Montessori classroom?

Is there really a difference between a traditional classroom versus a

Montessori classroom?

I hope to give you a concise explanation of what an authentic Montessori program should entail for your child.

The Montessori method and philosophy is based on teaching to the whole child and encouraging independence beginning at a very early age. Children want to do for themselves. Maria Montessori stated, “Do not do for the child for what they can do for themselves.” Montessori students learn to think critically, work collaboratively, and act boldly – a skill set needed for the 21st century.

An authentic Montessori classroom will have a certified Guide (teacher) and an assistant. Some classes may have two certified Guides. A typical class will have mixed ages: Toddler 0-3 years, Primary 3-6 years, Lower Elementary 6-9 years, Upper Elementary 9-12 years (some schools join Lower and Upper, making it a 6-12 year old classroom), and Middle School 12-14 years. There are also a few Montessori High Schools, with students ranging from 14-18 years old.

A Montessori child will experience an uninterrupted work cycle, preferably 3 hours long in the morning. This is a sacred and cherished time in the classroom. The children have freedom of movement and choice; however, these choices are within limits.

Throughout the Montessori school experience, each child is valued as a unique individual, with respect of the child being of great importance. Beginning at an early age, Montessori students develop order, coordination, concentration, and independence to think for themselves. Students are part of a close community of caring teachers and classmates. Students are continually encouraged to learn through their personal interests, creating an individual who loves to learn throughout his life. In addition, self-correction and self-assessment are an integral part of a Montessori classroom, allowing the child to know that it is acceptable to make mistakes and learn from them. This approach not only not eliminates a fear of failure, but builds self-esteem, which is vital in the development of a child.

If you are interested in learning more about the Montessori philosophy, please visit the American Montessori Society online or the Montessori Education page on Wikipedia.

A Day In Our Lives

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The Montessori classroom is a “living room” for children, self-correcting lessons are displayed on the shelves awaiting them. The environment’s purpose is to unify the psycho-social, academic, and physical development of the child. As guides, our purpose is to provide children with a solid foundation that includes positive self-image of oneself and school, security, sense of order, curiosity, and persistence. This foundation will help the child become self-disciplined, and have a sense of responsibility to others.

We have parents who observe our classrooms and wonders, “How does the teacher manage the students?” What a wonderful questions. The answer is, “The guide designs an environment that allows each student to engage in what interests them.” The student in a Montessori classroom becomes engaged and involved in their community. Respect is the foundation from which great world stems. The environment works so well because the children have respect for themselves, each other, and their materials.

 

Montessori’s Brain-Based Approach

Steve Hughes, PhD, LP, ABPdN is the Director of the Center for Research on Developmental Education and a board certified pediatric neuropsychologist. He is a scientist who speaks about brain development and educates parents about academic, social, and executive functioning. In his talk, “Good at Doing Things”, Hughes highlights Montessori’s brain-based approach to education and it’s benefits.

A few highlights include:

  • More of the brain is dedicated to controlling your hands than any other part of the body
  • Human beings learn best through hands-on exploration of the world, especially in childhood
  • Montessori’s hands-on education philosophy is based on the idea that the hands are the tools the mind uses to discover the world

What Does That Mean?

Planes of Development. Normalization. Cosmic education.

If you’ve ever heard these terms in your child’s Montessori classroom, you might be curious about their meaning. The American Montessori Society has posted a Terminology glossary on their website that’s extremely helpful in clarifying some of the names and phrases particular to the Montessori environment.

Understanding these terms provides deeper understanding of the classroom culture and work cycle, which in turn equips you to effectively engage your child in conversation about his day.

The Peaceful Classroom 3

Today, we conclude our exploration of the Peaceful Classroom. In our previous posts, we examined the principles of Preparing the Environment for PeaceMaking Room for Peace Education, Peace through Nature and Peace through Creativity; today we discuss Peace through Giving and Making a Difference in the World..

Peace through Giving

“The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others.” Albert Schweitzer

Children need direct experiences with giving, joining the heart and hand. Children love to make things, small and large, and share with family, friends, and neighbors – they naturally want to share and help. Montessori addresses this desire with mixed-age classrooms where older students help the younger.

Practical life in Montessori is practiced at every level with the purpose of preparing children to take excellent care of themselves, our planet, and the people on it. Children are engaged in gift giving projects and works of charity throughout the year. The art of giving from the heart builds empathy and compassion, two essential ingredients of a peaceful person.

Make a difference in the world (Elementary and Middle School)

Help young people find active ways of working for peace, the preservation of the natural world, the relief of human suffering, or other concerns through organizations like Kids Can Make a Difference, Free the Children, Roots and Shoots, or Peace Jam, in which students work directly with Nobel Peace Laureates.

The Peaceful Classroom 2

Today, we continue our exploration of the Peaceful Classroom. In our last post, we examined the principles of Preparing the Environment for Peace and Making Room for Peace Education; today we discuss Peace through Nature and Peace through Creativity.

Peace through Nature

“Nothing is more beautiful than the loveliness of the woods before sunrise.” – George Washington Carver

The beauty of nature is a great balm to the soul. Children often seek out their own secret outdoor spaces, even if it’s only a corner of the backyard. Respect children’s need for private exploration and inner reflection that nature inspires. At our school, the outdoor environment is rich in peaceful garden spaces to work the soil with our gardener. Outdoor seating arrangements are comfortable places to spend with friends.

Peace through Creativity

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.” – Steve Jobs

Children need plenty of time for unstructured creative play and artistic endeavors. Unstructured creative time invites children to express their inner most personality and make profound connections between what they have learned and how they feel about themselves and others. During this time, adults keep a watchful eye, but remain unobtrusive to allow children to explore and develop the powers of problem solving through creativity.

Join us on next Tuesday as we conclude our look at the Peaceful Classroom by examining Peace through Giving and Making a Difference in the World.

The Peaceful Classroom 1

Today, we take a deeper look inside the Montessori classroom, beginning with the importance of peace.

Prepare the Environment for Peace

“Peace is what every human being is craving for, and it can be brought about by humanity through the child.” – Dr. Maria Montessori

Montessori begins with the prepared environment for each plane of development as aesthetically pleasing and inviting space for the child to grow up naturally. Classrooms are clean, simple and orderly, yet rich in age-appropriate materials that aid in independence of body and mind with lessons in care of the self, care of the environment (physical and natural), and care of others. Children have a better emotional response in a serene and beautiful environment that is organized for their unique sensibilities.

Make Room for Peace Education

“Peace is always beautiful.” – Walt Whitman

Outer peace begins with inner peace. Children need special places that give them a sense of privacy that can serve as a soft refuge for times when hurt or angry feelings might lead to violent words or actions. Decorated humbly and lovingly, each of our classrooms has a peace corner, table, or shelf where children go to work through unsettled feelings. Peace quotes, art, journals, books, natural objects, or perhaps a sand garden give the child a place to reflect and restore calm. Older children learn to use the peace area for conflict resolution by modeling peaceful communication practices. Learning to use the peace area is a process that takes time, and is nurtured with positive adult guidance.

Join us on Friday as we continue our look at the Peaceful Classroom by examining Peace through Nature and Peace through Creativity.

When “I Don’t Know” Is the Best Answer

Have you ever struggled with how to reply to your child’s curious questions when you don’t know the answer? The Value of Not Knowing, a recent insightful post at mariamontessori.com, explains why not providing an immediate answer creates a great opportunity for the child.

Traveling with Children

Traveling in itself is no easy feat. Traveling with kids is on a whole other level, it’s not for the faint of heart. But by no means should this keep us from packing up and heading out for an adventure, especially in the summer. It just takes a little planning and patience.

Looking for some guidance on how to make traveling with children as easy as possible? Take a look at this great article on the top 20 tips for traveling with children.