About the Montessori method
Learn how Montessori addresses many of the issues in today's educational system.
Early in the 20th century, Dr. Maria Montessori envisioned a radically different approach to education -- an approach grounded in close and insightful observations of children rather than in adult convenience and misconception.
For 100 years, Montessori has offered a brain-based, developmental educational method that allows children to make creative choices in discovering the people, places, and knowledge of the world. It emphasizes hands-on learning, self expression, and collaborative play in a beautifully-crafted environment of respect, peace, and joy.
Build a better brain with Montessori
The Montessori curriculum is based on respect for the child. The secret of teaching respectfully is to pay attention to the nature of the child at each stage of development and to design a classroom with appropriate and alluring activities and materials that allow the children to independently and creatively explore. Growth of the whole child is fostered by creating experiences that encourage healthy growth emotionally, physically, socially and cognitively.
A Montessori classroom is a child-sized environment complete with all of the tools necessary for the children to care for themselves and their surroundings. Materials and lessons are hands-on and enticing to the children. Children are taught traditional academics, but also basic practical life skills and social awareness that prepare the children to interact successfully with the world around them.
In the words of Maria Montessori, "To consider the school as a place where instruction is given is one point of view. But to consider the school as a preparation for life is another. In the latter case, the school must satisfy all the needs of life." An authentic Montessori education is one focused on respect and peace first, which makes room for faster and more joyful independent learning and creative thinking.
Montessori vs. Traditional
|Focus first on respect, caring and love of learning||Focus first on academic success|
|Mixed age grouping||Same age grouping|
|Teacher has an unobtrusive role in classroom||Teacher is center of classroom as "controller"|
|Mainly individual instruction||Mainly group instruction|
|Child chooses own work||Curriculum is structured for the child|
|Child can work where he chooses, move around and talk at will (yet not disturb the work of others); group work is voluntary||Child is usually assigned his/her own chair; encouraged to participate, sit still and listen during group sessions|
|Child discovers own concepts from self teaching materials||Child is guided to concepts by the teacher|
|Child works as long as he wishes on chosen project||Child is generally allotted specific time for work|
|Child sets own learning pace||Instruction pace is usually set by group norm|
|Child spots own errors from feedback of material||If work is corrected, errors are usually pointed out by the teacher|
|Child reinforces own learning by repetition of work and internal feelings of success||Learning is reinforced externally by repetition and rewards|
|Environment and method encourage self-discipline||Teacher is primary enforcer of discipline|
|Grouping encourages children to teach and help each other||Most teaching is done by teacher|
|Multi-sensory materials for physical exploration||Fewer materials for sensory development|
|Organized program for learning care of self and environment||Less emphasis on self-care instruction|
|Organized program for parents to understand the Montessori philosophy and participate in the learning process||Voluntary parent involvement|
Research and results
In a study that appeared in the September 2006 issue of the journal Science, research showed that a Montessori education leads to children with better social and academic skills.
Among 5-year-olds, Montessori students proved to be significantly better prepared for elementary school in reading and math skills than the non-Montessori children. They also tested better on “executive function,” the ability to adapt to changing and more complex problems, an indicator of future school and life success.
Montessori children also displayed better abilities on the social and behavioral tests, demonstrating a greater sense of justice and fairness. And on the playground they were much more likely to engage in emotionally positive play with peers, and less likely to engage in rough play.
Among the 12-year-olds from both groups, the Montessori children, in cognitive and academic measures, produced essays that were rated as “significantly more creative and as using significantly more sophisticated sentence structures.” The Montessori and non-Montessori students scored similarly on spelling, punctuation and grammar, and there was not much difference in academic skills related to reading and math. This parity occurred despite the Montessori children not being regularly tested and graded.