The other day, I was looking through some of my daughter’s old journals and artwork from her Montessori preschool. She’s 11 now and it seems like forever since she was at her Montessori school. I drive by the school nearly every day and am reminded of how wonderful her experience was there and how it helped her to become the capable and confident person she is. So, what is Montessori education? Here’s some background.
Montessori Learning in a nutshell
Dr. Maria Montessori was a physician (among Italy’s first female doctors!) and educator. In 1907 she opened a childcare center for inner-city children in Rome and was struck by their natural desire to learn. At first the kids were unruly (imagine that!!!) but then she saw that they liked working with puzzles and manipulatives that taught math lessons and learning to do everyday tasks such as preparing meals. She observed how they absorbed knowledge from their surroundings, essentially teaching themselves. Another reason why it’s so important to set a good example for children and to watch what you say!
With Montessori’s theory, the child leads (in Montessori lingo – Follow the Child). The teacher is there to guide the child and to prepare the learning environment so that there are appropriate materials and activities to choose from. The curriculum fosters independence but a Montessori classroom is far from chaotic and the children are not abandoned or ignored in any way. I was always struck by how calm a Montessori classroom of preschoolers was and how all the learning materials were laid out in such an aesthetically pleasing way. I felt calmer when I spent time in the school.
The Montessori educational philosophy seems obvious but it’s so different from what my daughter experiences in public school. At a very young age, she practiced activities such as pouring water from one glass pitcher to another. What she learned from this was how to handle fragile objects carefully, to use motor skills to lift and pour, to focus and to be mindful about her activity. She learned to carefully cut vegetables and she cooked vegetable soup at home. She learned woodworking and made tables at home using extra wood and our drill – and she was 5!!!
Here’s a popular quote from Maria Montessori. It will resonate for all parents of young children.
“The most important period of life is not the age of university studies, but the first one, the period from birth to the age six; for that is the time when man’s intelligence itself, his greatest implement, is being formed. . . . Adults work to finish a task, but the child works in order to grow, and is working to create the adult, the person that is to be.”
More Montessori Info
For more information about Montessori education, see the websites below.
There are many sites and blogs about Montessori out there. Here is just a sampling:
What about you?
Have you had experience with Montessori education? What do like about it? Can you recommend other Montessori-related sites?
- Home: Why it is Just Like Montessori School! (themotherofnine9.wordpress.com)