Frequently Asked Questions
Montessori is a philosophy of education structured around the belief that a child learns best in an environment that supports each individual’s uniqueness. Children are respected as humans whose interests are different from those of adults and other children. The classroom environment is structured so that children can function independently and become self-motivated learners. The Montessori environment allows children to develop at their own speed, according to each child’s own capacities in a non-competitive atmosphere. Learning takes place through the child’s own discovery and experience.
The Montessori system of education has been used successfully with children of all ages, ethnic backgrounds and socio-economic levels. Because of its individualized approach, the different needs and interests of different children can be met by one classroom environment. However, different teaching styles work best for different children. The best way to know if Montessori is right for your child is to observe in the classroom and see if the school’s style compliments your family’s style.
Although the emphasis in Montessori is on a child’s ability to grow and progress on an individual basis, there are ample opportunities for your child to become aware of him or herself in relation to other children, such as lunch, circle and recess. Children often work in pairs or small groups in the classroom, or have conversations while working on individual tasks. In the Montessori classroom, the child may choose to work by himself if he prefers, or he can invite a friend to work with him.
The teacher works with individual children or small groups, introducing materials and giving guidance when needed. The teacher takes time to unobtrusively observe each child to gain the knowledge needed to prepare the classroom environment to aid each child’s growth. The teacher is constantly alert to the direction in which the child has indicated that he or she wishes to go, and actively works to help the child achieve his or her goals.
Observers of Montessori children have described them as having developed self-discipline, self-knowledge, self-esteem and independence, as well as enthusiasm for learning, an organized approach to problem solving and academic skills.
In a traditional classroom, the teacher is at the center as the leader of the classroom, the transmitter of knowledge and the corrector of errors. The teacher in a traditional classroom sets the pace for learning and designs the curriculum for the child. In a Montessori classroom, the teacher plays an unobtrusive role, allowing the children freedom within limits. Children set their own pace for learning, discover concepts for themselves through self-teaching and self-correcting materials and choose their own work based on their interests and readiness. Through these teaching methods, children develop inner motivation to learn and self-esteem.
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