Montessori Q and A
Where did Montessori education come from?
Dr. Maria Montessori founded Montessori education in 1907. From observing young, underprivileged patients, Dr. Montessori determined that environment was a more important factor in their behavior than previously believed. She set about designing learning materials and studying children as they used them. These materials, combined with a specifically prepared environment and trained teachers, led to the Montessori method of education.
What is the difference between Montessori education and traditional education?
Dr. Montessori believed that every child learns individually and should be encouraged to work at his or her own pace. The Montessori method allows children to discover and learn from their own experiences and is based on principles including observation, order, construction and independence in the prepared environment. In a Montessori classroom, teachers observe children as they work, quietly offer guidance and prepare them for their next activity when it’s time to do so. The classroom is designed so that a child can access the Montessori materials easily, freely selecting and replacing them without the need of adult assistance.
What is the main difference between a traditional classroom and a Montessori classroom?
In Montessori classrooms, teachers address the needs of individual children who are learning through practice with hands-on materials. The teacher introduces a child to materials systematically, depending on developmental needs. The Montessori classroom is designed to promote self-discipline, independence and responsibility. Academically, children develop a strong foundation in language and math skills, physical and cultural geography, zoology, botany, physical science, history, music and art. They also learn practical life skills such as cooking, carpentry, sewing and cleaning. A classroom using the Montessori method is a very busy place. It is also quieter than a traditional classroom. Because children choose their own activities, they remain interested and engaged in what they are learning and doing. The Montessori-certified teacher is always close by, observing and preparing to help with the next lesson or question. A Montessori classroom is also a very clean and tidy place. Children treat their materials with care and put them in their proper place once they have completed their work.
What special training do Montessori teachers have and why are they different than traditional teachers?
Montessori teachers at Cottage Elementary have both California state teaching credentials and Montessori teaching certificates. The Montessori teaching certificates are gained only after dedicating a year or more to training and learning abut the principles of child development and Montessori philosophy as well as specific uses of the Montessori classroom materials. Montessori teachers are called Guides. They are skilled at asking questions rather than providing answers. They know how to observe children as they learn. They know how to help a child build self-confidence and self-esteem. The carefully prepared environment and method provide discipline. The Montessori teacher provides guidance.
What materials are used in a Montessori classroom?
Montessori materials are much different than those used in traditional classrooms. This difference is because in Montessori education the child learns from the environment, and it is the teacher's job to put the child in touch with the environment. Therefore, the classroom has top quality, child-sized furnishings and learning apparatus. Materials sit on shelves designed specifically for them. Children are taught how to use the materials and are then free to move about the room, selecting their activities and pursuing their work, either individually or in small groups. Montessori materials are specifically designed to be self-correcting for errors, allowing children to learn on their own, under the guidance of the teacher.
Is Montessori education good for children with learning disabilities? What about gifted children?
Montessori education is designed to help all children reach their fullest potential at their own unique pace. A classroom whose children have varying abilities is a community in which everyone learns from one another and everyone contributes.
Are Montessori children successful later in life?
The goal of Montessori education is to prepare children for a lifetime of creative thinking and learning. With the Montessori method, your child receives a broad academic education in the context of a carefully planned, stimulating community and environment. We are committed to helping children develop within themselves the foundation, habits, attitudes, skills and ideas that are essential for achieving this goal. Research studies show that Montessori children are well prepared for later life academically, socially, and emotionally. In addition to scoring well on standardized tests, Montessori children are ranked above average on such criteria as following directions, turning in work on time, listening attentively, using basic skills, showing responsibility, asking provocative questions, showing enthusiasm for learning, and adapting to new situations.