What is the Montessori Method of Education?

by Christine Chadwick

What makes the Montessori educational approach different from the rest, and appealing to so many parents? Let's take a closer look at the principles of the Montessori Method, along with its many benefits for students, families, and communities.

The History of Montessori

The first Montessori school opened in 1907 in Rome. Called the Casa dei Bambini, it was helmed by Maria Montessori, an Italian physician, educator and innovator, whose educational philosophy serves as the foundation of the Montessori Method so many people know and love today.

Dr. Montessori's viewpoint was based on her own scientific observations of children as the grew from birth through adulthood. From this research, she derived the child-centered educational approach for which the Montessori Method remains known more than 100 years later.

Components of the Montessori Method

The Montessori Method comprises a few central components. Students work in multi-age groups which foster peer learning opportunities. They also enjoy their choice of guided work, as well as blocks of uninterrupted work time of their own choice. While children are encouraged to pursue their own interests in a hands-on environment, teachers are available to offer guidance and support, as needed.

The Montessori Method is divided into five unique areas of learning, including:

  • Language
  • Sensorial
  • Practical Life
  • Math
  • Cultural

Each of these areas offers unique learning opportunities for students to develop themselves, set and achieve goals, and work both independently and collaboratively through real life experiences.

Montessori Classrooms and Materials

One unique aspect of the Montessori Method pertains to classrooms and materials. Classrooms are carefully prepared by teachers to encourage harmony, accommodate choice, and promote a sense of order while simultaneously fostering freedom and independence. Montessori materials, meanwhile, are carefully designed to introduce and reinforce concepts through touch and manipulation.

That the American Montessori Association describes the relationship between children, teachers and and their environment as "a learning triangle" highlights the importance of setting in the Montessori Method.

Benefits of the Montessori Method

The Montessori Method is focused on creating engaged, responsible, and respectful citizens positioned for lifetimes of learning. In addition to the benefits of learning at their own pace, students also learn the valuable tools of self-correction and self-assessment.

Many families also prize the Montessori Method for the caring, close-knit communities it promotes. This is often credited to multi-age classrooms in which older students gain critical leadership skills and reinforce their own understanding of key concepts while younger children feel supported and inspired in their learning relationships.

In an era when parents have more educational choices than ever, the Montessori Method offers a proven, time-tested approach to helping students become self-directed learners -- a critical skill set for 21st century success.

Tags: Learning Montessori
Categories: Learning styles