Why Montessori

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Dr. Montessori first became interested in education while caring for mentally challenged children in a psychiatric clinic in Rome. Her innovative practices—including a combination of sensory-rich environments and hands-on experiential techniques—soon elicited positive learning behaviors from children previously left behind by society. Montessori continued shaping her learning model by opening “A Children’s House” in 1907 for impoverished pre-school children. Her philosophy, materials, and practices have spread around the globe and have been implemented in a variety of cultural settings. As more and more schools incorporated core elements of the Montessori model —multi-age classrooms, early childhood education, and prepared environments—her namesake method became widely recognized as being ahead of its time.

What is Montessori?

The hallmark of a Montessori program is the prepared classroom environment. Each classroom is equipped with materials that first teach through the senses and later lead to reading, writing, advanced mathematics, problem solving, geography, science and cultural studies. Visual arts, music and movement are interwoven through out the days’ activities. Early childhood (3-6 years) classrooms are the most common age range found in Montessori schools. Montessori early childhood programs offer the most comprehensive curriculum for parents who have the goal of preparing their child for elementary school. Nearly everything within the walls of a Montessori classroom is child-sized. Children “work” with authentic Montessori materials including a wide range of high-quality, age- appropriate materials—objects such as wooden blocks, sand trays, textured fabrics, and glass beads, to name just a few. All of the materials are designed to be self-teaching. Children learn to solve problems, see natural connections in knowledge, learn skills related to practical living, and therefore, expand their imaginative thinking.

Perhaps the hands-on materials, carefully selected and placed on child-height shelves, everything in its place and on view for children to select, is the element that joins Montessori schools together. Materials other than open-ended ones have a control of error built into their design. Children can see and learn from their own mistakes without a teacher pointing out the error. This is one of the many aspects of a Montessori classroom that fosters independence.

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