Unraveling the complex web of the Montessori Method.
Montessori’s principles are actually very basic when boiled down to the core – so don’t worry, I’ll keep this short! There is a lot of info out there between books and blogs; it can feel overwhelming to sift through it all. If you do have time to read just one book I’d recommend The Absorbent Mind by Dr. Maria Montessori.
Let’s dive in!
What is “Montessori”?
“Montessori” is the last name of the world- renowned Italian Doctor, Maria Montessori (1870-1952). Based on her scientific observations from birth to adulthood, she developed the novel idea to educate the whole child from birth. Her methods have been popular for over 100 years and have been shown through short and long term studies to be successful in every cultural they’ve been implemented.
The 3 main points of the Montessori Method:
1. Creating a child-centered educational approach.
2. Views the child as a natural learner who is capable of initiating learning and acquiring knowledge when provided with a prepared environment.
3. Values the development of the whole child: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual.
That’s really it! 3 simply points.
To expand upon that, University of Virginia Professor, Angeline S. Lillard, Ph.D. has made know that there are 8 Fundamental Principles of Montessori education that provide children with superior educational outcomes. You can read more about those here.
If you’d like to get even more into the details of the Montessori philosophy see my compilation below.
The Montessori philosophy:
- The Montessori materials are secondary to the Montessori philosophy
- Respect of the child
- Individually of each child
- Freedom of choice
- “Freedom within limits”
- Children participate in the making of rules
- Children learn through hands on experiences
- Montessori work is child-directed and self-correcting
- The child possesses an “absorbent mind” with an inner motivation to learn
- Children teach themselves
- Children learn by observing others
- Opportunities for self-discovery rather than being told
- Once a work has been demonstrated the child is free to use it without correction from the teacher unless the child is abusing the work or harming others
- The teacher’s role to observe the child and follow the child’s lead
- The Montessori teacher thinks of themselves to be a guide or a director rather than a teacher
- A “prepared environment” of carefully prepared shelves with materials for the child to direct their own learning
- The teacher/guide/director is a link or a catalyst between the child and the prepared environment
- Independence of the child from the teacher
- Children possess a natural desire to care for themselves and their environment and typically prefer not to have things done for them
- The child develops a sense of responsibility and caring for the environment
- Mixed ages where the younger children learn by emulating older children and older children learn by helping younger children
- Each child learns at their own pace and is allowed to progress at their own pace
- Every child has an inner need to grow physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually
- The child has a natural love of order
- Children learn by a natural desire of repetition
- Children go through various “sensitive periods” where they are drawn to a material with a window of opportunity to easily absorb certain information
- Education of the whole child
- Work from the whole to the parts
- The wonder of discovery of the natural world with an overview of the whole universe
Phew! So maybe I didn’t keep it all that short- but hopefully breaking it down into these smaller chunks will make it easier to process.
Further Recommended Reading: