The Montessori philosophy for educating children is based on
the belief that every child learns at his own pace and through multi-sensory
activities. Dr. Maria Montessori developed her method in the early 1900's while
observing a class of sixty children. She found that her students had a natural
ability to learn from their surroundings and the hands-on materials offered to
them. Once she reached this conclusion she began creating tasks that helped
children learn a particular skill through repetitive manipulation. It was clear
to Dr. Montessori that children taught themselves and that adults should take
on the role of guide, only interfering when a child seems lost and in need of
One component you will see in all Montessori schools is the use of mixed age groups. The classrooms are grouped as follows: 3 to 6 years, 6 to 9 years, and 9 to 12 years. Grouping children of different ages together promotes an atmosphere where students are able to learn at their own developmental rate. This gives children the liberty to master a lesson minus the frustration of having to hurry through a concept. It also stops children from working at a pace that does not challenge them, which may lead to boredom. These groupings create an environment where children discover the value of helping one another. Older students offer guidance to younger students, which in turn, helps the older child reinforce lessons they have previously learned and can lead to a complete understanding of a concept.
The role that a Montessori teacher takes on is one of an observer and a guide. As an observer, the teacher must pay close attention to the student’s individual learning style. This will give the teacher the ability to provide the proper guidance a child needs to succeed. Unlike traditional educators, Montessori teachers will only intervene when they feel the child needs redirection when attempting to understand a concept. A teacher must also supply his or her students with a peaceful environment, which means materials neatly organized and easily reached. The strategically organized classroom gives children the freedom to choose the lessons they will concentrate on and where in the room they will complete their work.
Some people may question how children in a Montessori school are able to meet the state standards set forth by the traditional education system. The answer is relatively straightforward. When you walk into a Montessori classroom you will find multiple hands-on activities occurring at once, and each activity is designed to help the students grasp the concepts behind the standards. Unlike traditional schools, students are given several ways of learning a particular concept, which allows them to find the method that best fits their learning style. The students also use music, drama, and movement to help them achieve the goal of complete mastery.
Dr. Maria Montessori saw every child as an individual that held the natural ability to teach themselves when provided with the necessary tools and guidance. The Montessori method is centered around the importance of students moving through their lessons at their own pace. Followers of the philosophy believe a student's exploration and understanding of a concept is hindered by the strict learning regiment that conventional classrooms follow. Instead, the Montessori method is geared towards hands-on learning that encourages students to view education as exciting and rewarding.
The Montessori Foundation. (n.d.). Retrieved January 20, 2013, from montessori.org.