As soon as you enter a Montessori classroom, you know that you are seeing something unique. Montessori classrooms are immediately recognizable. You will see children working independently and in groups, with a teacher or on their own. You will note that students are deeply engaged in their work; they barely look up when a visitor arrives. They are respectful of themselves, others, and their surroundings. The classroom seems to hum, the children are alert yet relaxed, and the teachers (usually 2 to a classroom) calmly move around to instruct or confer with children as they work.
Montessori education is a child centered educational approach developed by Dr. Maria Montessori, an Italian physician, over a hundred years ago. Montessori pedagogy is transformational for children, parents, and teachers. The Montessori Method fosters rapid growth for children in all areas of development—academic, social, and emotional. Montessori schools can be found in almost every country around the globe and is particularly successful because the methods are based on established, well-respected understandings of how children learn.
There are several key elements of the Montessori approach to learning. Students work in multi-age groups made up of children in the same developmental stage (usually 2 to 3 year age groupings); they learn with and from each other. The Montessori environment contains specially designed, manipulative materials that invite children to engage in learning activities. Under the guidance of a certified Montessori teacher, children in a Montessori classroom learn by making discoveries with the materials, cultivating concentration, motivation, self-discipline, and a love of learning. Montessori teachers look at each child as a unique individual, and recognize that students learn at different paces and in different ways. Given the freedom and support to question, to probe deeply, and to make connections, Montessori students become happy, confident, enthusiastic, self-motivated learners. They are able to think critically, work collaboratively, and act boldly—all skills needed to move forward in a rapidly changing world!
- Maria Montessori