Recently, we saw several posts on Facebook asking for a summary of the Montessori philosophy of child education and development.
Here’s our five-minute overview to help parents better understand the concept and benefits of the Montessori educational method that was developed in 1907 by Dr. Maria Montessori, a physician and child educator in Rome. Dr. Montessori valued the whole child—and was motivated to advance the physical, cognitive, social and emotional well-being of each child during sensitive periods of development, especially the critical stages from birth to age six.
Dr. Montessori believed that education centers on nurturing and developing a child’s natural, innate interests and abilities through hands-on practical engagement and direct interaction within their environment. The Montessori educational approach fosters independence, self-reliance, and creativity within a multi-age classroom setting where teachers are guiding observers. With a watchful eye, teachers encourage children to pursue their own individual characteristics, talents and abilities. Children engage in purposeful activities of their choice and work at their own pace for uninterrupted periods of time. Through exploration and discovery, children “learn by doing” rather than by traditional instruction.
The Montessori classroom is carefully, thoughtfully prepared to offer an inviting, organized open space. The tables, chairs, fixtures, learning aids and activities are well-placed and easily accessible. The materials are scaled to the children’s size and abilities. Your child is encouraged to move about freely, build relationships with classmates, and pursue their own interests.
At a very young age, children learn how to be helpful and respectful with each other while participating in educational activities and learning practical life skills, such as putting away toys, washing dishes, watering plants, and working as a team. Within the calm order and freedom of the Montessori environment comes self-discipline, where children learn to take control and responsibility for their own actions and behavior.
One of the most important life lessons that the Montessori approach teaches is self-reliance. Teachers help build self-confidence in students by allowing them to do things for themselves. We often hear children say, “Help me do it myself.” Providing opportunities to learn and experience “successes” independently strengthens self-worth and builds trust in the child’s own abilities. These lessons last a lifetime for growth, happiness and well-being. According to Dr. Montessori, “The greatest gifts we can give our children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence.”