If you are wondering what a Montessori school is and how different it is from other schools, you are in the right place. Montessori, an education system that owes its existence to an Italian Physician, Dr. Maria Montessori, largely emphasizes on freedom with boundaries, independence and building of various skills. With concepts that surround discovery, exploration and guidance, the system believes that education involves unfolding and development of child inner abilities, talent and interests. For more than a century, the system that was formulated by a woman teaching mentally challenged children in Italy, has is devoted to developing the cognitive, psycho-motor, physical and social abilities via environmental interactions rather than directions.
The system welcomes children from the age of 3 to 18 in multi-age classrooms where the kids are placed in three year age groups that is, 3-6 6-9 9-12 12-15 15-18 which creates a community where younger children learn from the older ones. For kids in preschool learning materials are usually customized to their sizes for developmental appropriateness that accustoms them to learn certain concepts and skills. These materials enhance concrete knowledge building that is sequential, multi-sensory and self-corrected. Sensory motor activities enhances cognitive abilities which include seeing, tasting, hearing, touching, movement and smelling.
Teachers who are known as guides introduce learning material to small groups where the children can independently decide what materials to use and when. The teachers observe what the students are doing giving them guidance when needed without interrupting their concentration. This way they are able to encourage decision making and problem solving techniques either by the child sole handedly or with the help of a peer. Children through this type of approach are able to follow their interest at a pace that they are comfortable with. Classmates, especially the older ones, act as teachers which helps them enhance their understanding of different concepts they have learn.
If at all there are meals or snacks served at the school, Montessori preschools encourage communal activities such as helping out in the preparation or serving of the meals where after their lunchtime meals they are allowed to rest. Usually before and after the classes the students hold group meetings where they, together with their teachers hold discussions, make presentations, set expectations and so on.
For students at the age of 12-18 who are adolescents the Montessori system focuses on practical work as opposed to intellectual with the argument that during this stage individuals are undergoing a lot of changes and therefore minimal intellectual strain is ideal. While for students in the 15-18 age group, social work, apprenticeship and intellectual work are the main pillars governing the mode of learning.
Montessori is a system that could be practiced at home informally. Traditional system especially early childhood programs today are implementing some of the concepts that are associated with the Montessori school system. Montessori’s noncompetitive activities for children greatly impacts on their self-esteem coupled up with a good self-image, a recipe for confidence and optimism. Montessori could be summarized as a system that encourages children to not only be curious but also to be able to foster their love for learning. It is a student centered approach that encourages creativity and independent thinking during acquisition of skills.