A Montessori classroom is likely very different from what most parents are used to. In such a setup, tests and grades are discouraged; instead, students can choose among various activity stations throughout the day. Teachers move from group to group instead of just standing in front of the classroom, providing a more unique lesson for each student.
The Montessori curriculum focuses not just on academics but also students’ overall social, physical, and emotional development. A child-centered education method can be very beneficial—and it’s an excellent choice a parent can make for their child.
The History of The Montessori Method
Dr. Maria Montessori developed the Montessori method of education in the 1900s. She believed that children naturally seek out knowledge and initiate learning as long as they receive proper guidance and support. Dr. Montessori built this methodology based on observing how children behaved in the classroom, how they reacted to teachers, and how they interacted with each other.
The American Montessori Society (AMS) was founded in the 1960s. Today, AMS is affiliated with 1,300 schools and almost 100 teacher education programs. There are over 22,000 Montessori schools in 110 countries around the world.
Basic Principles of The Montessori Method
The Montessori Method is centered around a “follow the child” system—responding to their needs, building a favorable environment, and recognizing those needs’ evolution as they age.
Here are two of the basic principles of the Montessori Method:
- Four Planes of Development – Dr. Montessori broke down children’s brain development into four planes, relating it to a butterfly’s life cycle. The caterpillar and butterfly are very different but are intrinsically the same. The beauty of the butterfly is due to the careful nurturing of the caterpillar.
Based on this analogy, the Montessori mixed-age curriculum is as follows:
- Birth to 3 years old – The focus is on developing coordinated movement and independence, allowing them to discover their potential.
- 3 to 6 years old – Aside from Mathematics and Language, children are also exposed to sensorial and practical lessons. They are taught to refine all of their senses, allowing them to find order and meaning in the world. Practical lessons, such as washing up and setting the table, develop their concentration and self-discipline.
- 6 to 12 years old – The curriculum integrates historical and evolutionary knowledge and human development. The Five Great Lessons (Coming of the Universe, Coming of Life, Coming of Human Beings, Communication in Signs, The Story of Numbers) awaken the child’s imagination, curiosity, and admiration for the human spirit.
- Montessori Environment – Montessori classrooms are spacious, open, and simple in design. Low shelves and tables are available in different sizes where students can work in groups or individually. The classroom is divided into theme areas where the study materials are available on their corresponding shelves. The open space promotes independence and allows students to explore and learn freely.
Benefits of The Montessori Method
Movement is built into the Montessori curriculum, so children do not spend long periods sitting still. This develops their spatial capabilities quickly, and their minds are consistently fully engaged.
Children can also move through the lessons at their own pace, so those who need more time to understand a particular concept do not feel pressure to work more quickly. They are taught that the feeling of accomplishment doesn’t come from external validation like grades or awards, but instead from the joy of learning and taking pride in your work.
The Montessori method of education differs significantly from the standard classroom setup, which can bring many benefits to a child’s overall development. Montessori education encourages independent thinking, hands-on learning, collaboration, and going at your own pace. By instilling such a mindset from a young age, the child grows up to be a very willful and dedicated individual. Are you looking for Catholic schools near you that follow the Montessori approach? St. Aloysius Regional School in New York combines Catholic education with a Montessori curriculum to help your children thrive in their faith and unleash their full academic potential. Get in touch with us today to get started on your children’s bright futures!