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Teaching Methods: How the Montessori Philosophy Can Help Your Child’s Learning

Every parent wants the best education for their child, and now, there are so many more options to choose from than just public or private school. The Montessori program has been gaining traction and growing in popularity. The Montessori Method transforms education by meeting children as they are, not who they should become.

What Is the Montessori Method?

Developed over 100 years ago by Dr. Maria Montessori, the Montessori Method focuses on nourishing every aspect of a child’s development from birth to adulthood—physical, social, emotional and cognitive. Dr. Montessori’s program was based off years of scientific and psychological research, and it was originally designed for preschool students. As time progressed, the Montessori philosophy has evolved and is now taught from preschool through high school.

The cornerstone of the Montessori philosophy is catering to every child’s inherent desire to learn. Conventional schools are rule-based and incentivize learning through prizes and external rewards; the Montessori method believes children are already equipped to learn and enjoy the process, so Montessori educators tap into a child’s innate curiosity rather than trying to force them to adhere to a specific model of instruction.

Montessori Education Values

The core values of Montessori education are respect, child-directed learning, sensitive periods, a prepared environment and “auto-education”.

Respect

Children in Montessori classrooms are respected by educators as individuals, not treated like subordinate students. They are encouraged to work with one another in multi-age classroom settings (each classroom in a Montessori school is centered on a three-year period starting from age 3). Teachers both respect the students and serve as behavioral models.

Child-directed Learning

Unlike traditional schooling, the Montessori Method values a child’s curiosity and desire to explore the world around them. Through prepared classrooms that provide necessary learning material, children are encouraged to teach themselves.

From the early childhood education level, children will be invited to participate in short lessons taught in small groups and led by the teacher. Then, they are encouraged to work in uninterrupted work periods.

Sensitive Periods

Sensitive periods are periods that Montessori educators believe are optimal for learning a specific skill. During this stage of development that all children undergo around the same time, the curriculum will emphasize the acquisition of a particular skill such as writing.

Prepared Environment

Montessori schools don’t have standard classrooms; the classroom varies depending on the age group. Each classroom is filled with prepared materials that give children the ability to educate themselves and explore learning in an interactive, engaging way rather than being taught recycled information.

Autoeducation

The Montessori philosophy teaches “auto-education,” which is the ability to teach oneself a necessary skill when placed in the right environment. The classroom structure and encouragement of independence and discovery of one’s unique learning style sets the Montessori program apart from regulated public school classrooms.

Is the Montessori Program Right for My Child?

If you aren’t sure whether the Montessori program is the right choice for your child’s education, consider visiting a school and asking to observe a typical classroom session. Look for Montessori summer programs for kids that could give your child an introduction to the learning environment.

Learning more about Montessori education, philosophy and teaching, as well as getting some hands-on experience with the learning environment, is the best way to figure out whether or not it’s a good match for your child.

Tim Esterdahl

Tim Esterdahl is the editor of IFCS blog. He is a married father of three and enjoys golf in his spare time.

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