What is Montessori Education?
Montessori Education is a method that focuses on helping each child reach his/her social, emotional, spiritual, and academic potential. This revolutionary approach to education was created by Dr. Maria Montessori on the premise that love for learning flourishes when they are immersed in a socially connected environment where they have freedom to choose.
How did it start?
Born in Italy in 1870, Dr. Montessori persevered to become the first Italian woman to receive a medical doctor degree to become a pediatrician. Her professional medical interest grew initially toward children who were disadvantaged and had special needs. Later on she went back to college to study psychology, education and anthropology.
Dr. Montessori developed her method of education scientifically by observing the learning of young children within the schools that she had created. She also developed unique learning materials and pioneered a child-centered classroom environment, to better respond to the individual needs of the children. She looked at materials that rarely got used by the children and removed them to perfect the class room environment.
The Montessori environment offers the child a way to repeat tasks without a fear of failure or constantly being corrected and enjoy the fruits of discovery. Dr. Montessori was one of the first educators to stress the importance of respect for the child, for freedom of expression, for self-education, and for learning through sensorial materials that allow touching and use of hands.
Dr. Montessori dedicated her life to the betterment of children’s lives. After organizing many successful schools in Italy, as well as many teacher training facilities, she traveled around the world lecturing on her method and founding new schools. An accomplished writer, Dr. Montessori wrote approximately fifteen books and numerous articles about education. The Montessori method of education was first introduced in the United States back in 1912. One of the earliest schools was established by Alexander Bell. Although quickly embraced in other parts of the world, the Montessori method of education grew gradually in the US until the 1950’s when the American Montessori Society (AMS) was organized. AMS has been instrumental in supporting the growth of the Montessori education in our country, not only by providing teacher training facilities assuring the high quality of the human resources available but also by helping maintain high standards through the AMS accreditation. By today’s estimates, there are about 5,000 Montessori schools in the country, serving some 400,000 children from infancy through high school, in both public and private settings.
What makes it unique?
Focusing on each child as an individual makes the Montessori method of education unique. The materials used and the educational techniques implemented support and respect the natural development of each child. Moreover, the Montessori method recognizes that the learning abilities of each child changes in time. These abilities characterize particular periods during which a child is more adept to the acquisition of specific knowledge in a particular way.
Multi-age grouping, another trademark of the Montessori method, fulfills two particular objectives. Firstly, it provides an older child the opportunity to reinforce the learning by helping (teaching) a younger child. It also foments leadership and responsibility as it places the older child in the position of a leader and role model. Secondly, it encourages the younger child to become interested and curious for the more challenging concepts practiced by the older child. At the same time, it builds confidence in the younger child as he or she observes the success of the older child in mastering more difficult concepts.
Montessori children are exposed to a wide range of experiences, starting with the Practical Life exercises, which allow the child to gain coordination, concentration, independence, and order.
What is the classroom like?
The Montessori classroom is a child-sized environment. The learning materials and the activities are prepared and organized by the Teacher and placed on low wooden shelves accessible to the children for whom they are intended. This prepared environment entices the child to proceed at his or her own pace, from simple activities to more complex ones. Through this process, the child’s natural curiosity and abilities are satisfied and respected, as he or she begins to experience the joy of discovering the world around.
What is the role of freedom in the classroom?
Two important aspects of the Montessori classroom help understand the concept of freedom. First, with teacher’s guidance the child develops the ability to choose freely among the materials that have been previously presented. This satisfies the child’s natural need for productive activity and understanding. Second, the hands-on materials allow for the learning by discovery.
This type of learning ignites a spark of joy in the learning process, and also a profound understanding of what is discovered. These two aspects also justify the love for life-long learning, so characteristic of adults who were educated by the Montessori method. The concept of freedom in the Montessori class is a freedom within limits. A child is allowed to work freely as long as others are not disturbed. The teacher works with each student in his/her understanding of the classroom guidelines while helping each student develop the ability to choose.
What does the teacher do?
The certified Montessori teacher, who is frequently referred to as guide or directress, gives presentations or lessons to a single child or to a small group of children throughout the day, introducing materials and guiding the child whenever needed. Time is also spent observing each child in order to determine his/her needs and to gain the knowledge needed to prepare the environment to aid in the child’s growth. The teacher, in the fundamental role of facilitator, is the link between the environment and the children.
The Montessori teachers are known for being respectful, warm, open, generous, curious, and self-disciplined. They have a great yearning for learning, and are, unquestionably, wonderful role models for the children under their loving care.
How will my child do academically?
The Montessori method of education is known for its extraordinary academic achievements. Each child is accepted as individuals with different talents, interests, and abilities. Because the focus is on the individual child, not on normative expectancies, existing skills are developed to full potential, while the development of new skills are encouraged and supported. The result is a well rounded, confident individual who excel in their natural skills, and who is capable of mastering new skills which are necessary for future growth.
How do children interact in the classroom environment?
As the children develop a sense of pride in their work, they begin to manifest a feeling of confidence, well being, and joy. It is a wonderful experience to observe a classroom of Montessori children, an activity encouraged by the school. The classroom is a place of respect, love, and cooperation among the children. Children with freedom to follow their interests are generally happy, and busy involved in their work.
What happens when a child goes from a Montessori class to a traditional class?
Children who are successful in a Montessori school demonstrate much higher social and academic adaptability to other educational environments than children from traditional schools. This is an obvious consequence of the high degree of confidence, self-discipline, self-motivation, and independence attained while in the Montessori environment.
Why do Montessori Have Mixed Age groups?
There are several different reasons that Montessori schools use mixed age groups in the classrooms, compared to your traditional daycare that have classrooms separate by age of a span of 6 months to a year. Listed below are just a few reasons why Montessori Schools believe in Mixed Age Groups in the classrooms.
- The older children provide leadership in the classrooms to the younger children, and provide the younger children with a sense of security and guidance. This gives the older children a feeling of importance and satisfaction from helping the younger children in the classroom and being there for them.
- The younger children in the classroom get encouraged by the older children, and learn through observing the older children and watching what they do each day will encourage them and spark their interest into trying new things and experimenting.
- Mixed ages groups promote self-esteem, and self-confidence it encourages positive social interaction & learning.
- Mixed ages groups free children to feel accomplished and proud of their work and achievements, rather pressure to succeed and complete their work like their peers.
With Mixed Age groups & Individualized teaching how do Montessori teachers keep track of all the children?
The Montessori Method of teaching is based on a scientific method of observations. Learning how to systematically observe when a child revels a strong interest towards a piece of knowledge. This is a key aspect of the teachers training. Montessori teacher’s education is extensive, and take a lot of time to get fully certified. Getting Montessori certified requires a full year of graduate work for each level of development. The three levels of development are
- Early Elementary
- Upper Elementary
The teachers in the classroom observe the children for self-reliance, self-discipline, independence, focus, and the love of work. They observe the mood of the classroom and the mood of each individual child.
Each classroom will also have a unit of study for each month that will focus on what the children will be talking and learning about that month, along with their Montessori lessons.
The teachers also will do an evaluation of the child after each semester which will show you where your child is at developmentally and how he or she is progressing in the classroom.
Is Montessori for all Children? What kind of children will do well in a Montessori School Vs. A Traditional Day care?
Montessori education has been used for nearly a 100 years successfully. Children off all economic levels and all academic abilities and ethnic backgrounds succeed each day in Montessori classroom. There is no single educational way of teaching that will work for all children and their maybe some children who will advance further and do well with more teacher directed instruction. There are also some children that will succeed more from the freedom of learning at their own pace. Montessori gives children the freedom to work on their studies at their own pace, without the pressure of having to complete their work as fast or like their peers in their classroom.
How secure is your learning environment?
Our school provides a very secure learning environment, a place where your child can learn safety while moms and dads are away. We have a front door security system, which only allows families that are enrolled to have access to get into the building without being buzzed in by someone from our management team. All relatives and friends picking up children must be approved on a releases authorization form that’s is filled out by the parents and check against a photo ID. There is also a full camera system throughout the building and playground. Signing in and checking out your child each day is done through fingerprint scanning.
All of our teacher are trained and certified in infant, child and adult First Aid and CPR. All of our infant teachers are also SIDS, Shaken Baby, and Brain Development certified. In addition to both of those certifications all of our teachers receive 24 hours of additional training each year.
How does your car pool lane work?
Our car pool runs three times a day, once at drop off and twice during two different pick up times of 11:45 & 2:45. Each parent will pull up to the front doors during car pool time and the teachers from the classrooms will deliver your child to your car and buckle them up in your car. They will also receive your child from your car and bring him/ her to their classroom.
How do I know my child is receiving healthy meals and snacks?
All meals are prepared on site at Heritage Montessori academy each day. We follow all USDA guidelines when preparing all meals and snacks for the children. At Heritage Montessori Academy you have the option of enrolling in our lunch program or bringing your own lunch from home. Each classroom has their own Microwave and mini fridge. If you choose to enroll in our lunch program you also have the option of choosing the vegetarian option for your child.