Montessori is an unique approach to teaching preschool and primary age children that was developed by Dr. Maria Montessori (1870-1952) who was born and raised in Italy. It is based on the basic tenet of “following the child” and therefore encouraging self learning, teachers stand on the sidelines and serve as guides when needed. The name Montessori was never trademarked, so not all schools that call themselves Montessori are actually Montessori.
According to the American Montessori Society: “Components necessary for a program to be considered authentically Montessori include multiage groupings that foster peer learning, uninterrupted blocks of work time, and guided choice of work activity. In addition, a full complement of specially designed Montessori learning materials are meticulously arranged and available for use in an aesthetically pleasing environment.” Beautiful materials which children learn to treasure: “The Montessori school environment is arranged according to subject area — cooking, cleaning, gardening, art, caring for animals, library corner, etc. — children always free to move around the room instead of staying at desks. There is no limit to how long a child can work on something she has chosen.”
Montessori schools are almost always non-traditional progressive schools that are very different from your regular schools. Their classes are multi-age and teacher-guided, to where the teacher stays on the sidelines observing and guiding the learning process. “The teacher, child, and environment create a learning triangle. The classroom is prepared by the teacher to encourage independence, freedom within limits, and a sense of order. The child, through individual choice, makes use of what the environment offers to develop himself, interacting with the teacher when support and/or guidance is needed.”
Dr. Montessori the founder of the Montessori method of learning designed materials to help develop a child’s five senses such as the cylinder blocks, the pink tower, the red rods and more for learning and discovery activities. Teachers of the higher grades are usually expected to develop their own materials.
So is the Montessori way of learning right for your child? If you’re someone that believes in the traditional way of learning, no, also not all schools that call themselves Montessori are true Montessori schools, so do your research and ask the right questions before enrolling your child.
As a follow up to this article we will be compiling the names and contact information of all the Montessori schools in Hawaii in tomorrow’s blog to make it easy for those in Hawaii that may want to enroll their kids in a Montessori School.
“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin
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