One of the first things you’ll notice about a Montessori classroom is its welcoming, orderly and child-friendly atmosphere and décor. Every piece of furniture, activity area, and aesthetic detail is well designed and well placed for a child’s easy access, convenience and enjoyment.
Dr. Maria Montessori, founder of the Montessori child development and education more than 100 years ago, believed that children flourish in a calm, neat and natural environment where they can freely explore and engage in understanding and learning about the world around them. That’s why you’ll find these top ten features in a Montessori classroom:
- Child-friendly classroom design—All furniture, activity areas, and fixtures are child-sized and within easy reach and view to engage and accommodate children comfortably.
- Multiple activity areas—Children are encouraged to pursue their own, individual activities at their own pace. While some children may be independently exploring math exercises, others may be working together collaboratively on a reading project.
- Freedom to learn—Children are empowered to discover and explore the activities that interest them the most and spend as much time on that activity as desired. This freedom and focus fosters self-discipline, as well as creativity, problem-solving skills, and a lifelong appreciation for learning.
- Observant teachers—Unlike traditional classrooms where the teacher is at the center of the classroom giving instruction, Montessori teachers are specially trained “observers” helping to guide children as they pursue activities independently. Each child is at the center of the Montessori classroom. The teacher’s role is only to facilitate the learning process and experience for each child.
- Multi-age classmates—Children are assembled in three-year age groups to help encourage relationship-building, trust, and mutually beneficial learning experiences. Younger children learn from older ones who act as role models, and older students take the responsibility to help mentor the younger ones.
- Caring, compassionate community—In a supportive, collaborative classroom environment, children learn self-awareness, self-discipline, as well as kindness and respect for others. Developing the social and emotional well-being of children is just as important as intellectual and academic development.
- Engaging Montessori materials and lessons—The Montessori approach encourages “hands-on learning.” Your child learns by doing for themselves. This teaches valuable lessons in self-reliance and builds self-esteem. Children quickly become proud of their achievements and strive to do more.
- Wonders of nature—A Montessori classroom is often outfitted with plants and objects of nature to help children gain an awareness and appreciation of the environment. Montessori was a proponent of experiential learning and respect for all living things. Exploring nature provides opportunities for sensorial experiences, a key feature of Montessori learning. Dr. Montessori believed in supporting the whole child—body, mind and soul.
- Purposeful work—Children participate in necessary tasks to maintain the order of the classroom, teaching life-long lessons of personal responsibility. From washing dishes and putting away toys to watering plants and sweeping floors, children learn to take responsibility for their own possessions and live in harmony with others.
- Peaceful conflict resolution—Children are taught to be respectful and show empathy for each other. By listening to one another and taking time out when problems occur, students learn to find solutions and resolve conflicts more readily.
At Apple Montessori Schools, we begin at an early age to help children develop skills and attitudes that will prove instrumental for future success in life. Research has shown that children of Montessori schools produce more mature, creative and socially adept children, out-performing those given a traditional education.