Everything you wanted to ask but didn't know where to start!
Is Montessori for every child?
- Yes—there is no child who would not benefit from a Montessori education. Every child wants to learn and each is unique in areas of interest and rate of learning. Montessori addresses this uniqueness because it is an individual program tailored to the strengths and challenges of each student. One child may spend two days learning multiplication while another may require two weeks or even two months. A trained scientist, Maria Montessori spent a lot of time observing exactly how and why children learn. She understood that all children, whether they have strengths or challenges in particular areas of learning, need their own time to master it. They don't need to be constantly worried about being "ahead" or "behind" anyone else. Every Montessori school is the living legacy of this educational breakthrough. Montessori works for every child no matter who they are or where they come from.
What is the Montessori Philosophy?
- Montessori education is based on the belief that children are individuals with their own strengths, needs, likes and learning styles, therefore the teacher needs to guide each child through the learning process by using materials that fit their specific needs and pace.
Can children do whatever they like whenever they like?
- There is a lot of structure in a Montessori classroom! It's just a different type of structure than in the traditional classroom. In many traditional classrooms since all the children do pretty much the same thing at the same time, the "structure" is in keeping them focused and quiet. Children are respected as individuals and are given freedom in the environment. It does not mean that he can do whatever he likes, but rather that, within clearly defined boundaries, he has the freedom to choose what activity to work with (once it has been presented to the child), freedom to choose where to sit when working (at a table, on the floor, in large groups, on the child's own, etc.), freedom to move around the environment and freedom for the child to work on his own or with someone, as long as it is is meaningful and purposeful and that will encourage him to think independently and behave responsibly, whilst showing respect for others and the environment.
What is the difference between Montessori and traditional Education?
- A Montessori classroom will not look like a traditional classroom. It is not filled solely with text books, writing paper and pencils. Instead it is filled with many concrete materials that are always for the child's use that will teach a wide range of levels and concepts.
- Rarely, if ever, will you find the whole class sitting with their books out looking at the teacher show them how to fill in a worksheet. Instead you will see children, some in groups, some by themselves, working on different concepts, and the teacher sitting with a small group of children, usually on the floor around a mat.
- Picture a traditional classroom: the teacher stands at the front of a classroom in which the students are all sitting in rigid rows of desks, all receiving the same lesson at the same time. This combined approach is convenient for school systems, but not necessarily conducive for learning. In the traditional school environment, the child is treated as a vessel, with information poured in at the same rate to all children until the bell rings. In a Montessori classroom, the teacher is know as the Directress because she guides, facilitates and directs the child according to his own levels of development, needs and interests and children learn at their own pace., which often means that children learn faster as they are not held back by either the prescriptive teacher or the rest of the class.
Why does Montessori have mixed-age groups in each class (i.e., three-year age groups: 3-6, 6-9, 9-12, etc.)?
- Maria Montessori discovered that putting older and younger children together helps them learn from and teach each other. This is good for the older children because they can be useful and helpful to the younger ones, which not only reinforces what they have learned but enhances their self-esteem as well. The younger children in turn have role models to follow and are integrated into the class- room by these helpful older children. If you think about it, every normal community has a mixed grouping of ages.
What makes a Montessori directress (teacher) different?
- To start off with, the word "teacher" is not always used in a Montessori classroom. A teacher is someone who knows something and gives it to you. A Montessori teacher is often called a Directress or a Guide, because what they do is direct and guide the child toward what he needs to teach himself. The child does this by using the specially designed materials. The Montessori Directress has been trained to observe your child and to determine his or her level of development, and what guidance the child will need in order to progress to the next level.
- In the simplest terms, a Montessori Director teaches individually. In a Montessori classroom your child is taught individually or in small groups. This allows the teacher to get immediate feedback and to be sensitive to how well the child is absorbing the lesson and what questions or needs the child has. Simply put, there is nothing that works so well in education as individual attention. This focus on your child's needs in heightened by the fact that each Montessori teacher has been trained in the science of observing children. They spend time every day observing the class: how it is functioning as a whole and how the children are progressing with their work. They have also been trained on how to teach using the Montessori materials, all of which have been scientifically designed to enhance the learning experience.
If my child has a Montessori education, can he go into another kind of education program that is not Montessori based?
- Because Montessori does such an excellent job at creating a love for learning, as well as the ability to focus, concentrate, cooperate with others and work independently, Montessori children thrive in any school, work or social situation.