The Montessori philosophy, developed by Italian physician and educator Dr. Maria Montessori, offers a broad vision of education as an aid to life. It is designed to help children with their task of inner construction as they grow from childhood to maturity. It succeeds because it draws its principles from the natural development of the child. Its flexibility provides a matrix within which each child’s individual inner directives freely guide him toward wholesome growth.
The Prepared Environment
Students interact and learn in a multi-age group environment, which is custom furnished so that everything is reachable and scaled for them to use. Classrooms contain Montessori materials used to engage students in learning activities of their individual choice, under the guidance of a certified Montessori teacher.
Materials designed by Maria Montessori are based on her observations of things children enjoy repeatedly return to. These materials are multi-sensory, sequential and self-correcting to facilitate learning. Every child learns individually and is encouraged to work at his or her own pace.
Montessori Teacher (teach by fulfillment)
A fully-trained teacher facilitates guides and helps (but does not impose her own will). There is neither punishment nor reward because Dr. Maria Montessori observed that children expect neither. Their reward is in the happy completion of a job itself and the natural respect that it commands. No papers with angry red marks and corrections are returned. Instead, the child’s effort and work are respected. This allows the child to experience the joy of learning and the time to enjoy the process, ensuring the development of self-confidence, self-esteem, trust, respect and willingness to try new things.
Initiative, Curiosity & Concentration
Children are surrounded with materials and activities geared to their inner needs so that they become accustomed to engaging in these activities on their own, resulting in a habit of initiative. Montessori education is hands-on, providing opportunities for children to discover qualities, dimensions and relationships among a variety of stimulating learning situations awakening curiosity. Through a series of absorbing experiences, children form habits of extended attention, increasing their ability to concentrate.
Self-esteem and Confidence
Tasks are designed so that each new step is built upon what the child has already mastered. This removes the negative experience of frequent failure, contributing to the child’s healthy emotional development.
Music and Art in the Montessori Classroom
Art and music are viewed as forms of self-expression and are integrated into the prepared environment as part of the day-to-day activities of the children. They complement and enhance the children’s ongoing explorations, including the enrichment of vocabulary. Various materials, such as crayons, chalk, pencils, paint, clay, textiles and a variety of papers, are available, as are opportunities for singing, dancing, playing instruments, moving to rhythms, and even songwriting. Music is explored sensorially through the specific materials called the bells. Children listen, match and grade different sounds, while simultaneously learning the names of the notes and their position on the staff. Montessori education permits a child to view the arts as natural parts of the physical world. Art and music are all around us, even the physical arrangement of the prepared environment is designed with an eye to color, proportion and overall beauty. Music and art are also explored culturally. They connect to historical periods and geographical places. Drawing a flag or dancing a folk dance can be part of an exploration of a country. There may be art folders containing pictures of works classified by period, style, or theme. Likewise, children may listen to works that demonstrate different styles of composing while learning about different composers.