The Montessori Method

Montessori is an educational pedagogy that focuses on the individual child and his needs. The concepts behind the pedagogy were consolidated by Dr. Maria Montessori in the beginning of the 20th century. Her concepts in regards to teaching children based on their needs and personal interest lead to the Montessori educational method of today.
The Montessori approach to education requires that children are placed in a well-planned and structured environment which will meet their individual educational and cultural needs. The children are free to follow their own interests within this planned environment, rather than being forced to learn something that is inappropriate to their developmental stage. The result is that children develop in a natural way and are highly motivated. They develop good discipline and master basic skills, and in many cases earlier than in a more traditional system of education. To bring about these results the teacher is trained in specific skills, the curriculum is carefully planned to reflect the children’s own culture and educational needs, the support materials for the curriculum are specifically Montessori and the outcomes for the children are unique.
There are three basic elements of the Montessori approach to education:
The Structured Environment
The Montessori Curriculum
The Montessori Teacher

The Structured Environment
This is referred to as the ‘Prepared Environment’ and by this is meant the physical appearance and the arrangement of the learning materials adhering to certain principles which focus on meeting the needs of the ‘whole child’. It is the teacher’s role to prepare and maintain this environment. These principles encompass:

 

  • Freedom of movement and freedom of choice for the children
  • Structure and order in the arrangement and sequence of the materials
  • An atmosphere that is attractive, warm and inviting
  • Materials that provide active learning experiences
  • Vertical grouping (in the age ranges 2½ to 6 years)
  • A closeness to nature and the natural world and activities and materials that reflect the reality of life, not fantasy

 

The Montessori Curriculum
There is a framework which specifies learning outcomes and the knowledge and skills to be learned. It is divided into the Montessori areas of learning:
  • Practical Life
  • Sensorial
  • Mathematics
  • Language and Literacy
  • Cultural Subjects (which include Geography, History, Natural Sciences, Experimental Sciences)
  •  Creative Subjects (Art and Craft, Music and Movement, Drama
The Montessori Teacher
Initially the Montessori teacher carefully observes the children in her class to ascertain the developmental needs of each individual child. Then comes the task of preparing the environment and the materials in it to meet the various needs of the individual children within the group. As the children begin to make free choices and interact and discover the materials, the teacher facilitates and guides their learning. There are some small group lessons when the teacher introduces new concepts and encourages the children to ask questions, investigate and discover new ideas.
​As a result, children who experience a Montessori education are highly motivated and learn to be independent, self-confident and self-disciplined. It makes education a source of pleasure for them - something to be sought and enjoyed. Each and all are given the opportunity to develop their own innate abilities to the full potential in an atmosphere where competition is irrelevant and non-existent. As a result they develop drive and a high level of achievement.