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Five Things to Know About Montessori Education
Teachers and caregivers here use some of the principles of Montessori learning. Read on for a quick look at what that means.
1. Even snack time can be a learning opportunity. Self-sufficiency is important to the Montessori philosophy, meaning that children as young as 2 or 3 might be asked to set the table for snack. Elsewhere in the classroom, tots might be practicing tying and buttoning skills on a special board. Many Montessori classrooms hold a range of ages, so older children can act as mentors, role models, and juice sommeliers.
2. Montessori learning is a two-way street. “It is not true that I invented what is called the Montessori Method,” founder Maria Montessori is quoted as saying. “I have studied the child, I have taken what the child has given me and expressed it, and that is what is called the Montessori Method.” A physician and psychiatrist by training, she opened the first Montessori childcare center in Rome in 1907, that first class of children served as a laboratory for careful observations of their natural learning processes and newest slang words. Montessori teachers don’t lecture but guide, paying close attention to each student’s individual progress so they know when to introduce new materials.
4. An open floor plan doesn’t mean a lack of structure. In a Montessori classroom you might find kids curled up in reading nooks, sprawled across the floor, or gathered around a table—all at once. But every space within the classroom has its own clear function. One area might be stocked with games that teach language skills, and another might hold colored beads and blocks for visualizing math concepts. Letting kids explore freely after establishing rules about putting away materials and behaving considerately is meant to teach self-discipline without stifling creativity.
5. Montessori kids don’t take many tests—but when they do, they tend to score well. For instance, a 2006 US study found that 5-year-olds enrolled in Montessori schools had more advanced math and reading skills than their non-Montessori contemporaries, and 12-year-olds had mastered more complex sentence structures than their peers.