Characteristics of Montessori Education

We recently attended the Cincinnati Montessori Society (CMS) Conference about the characteristics of Montessori Education. The following content is from Rosemary Quaranta, M. Ed.

“The child is truly a miraculous being and this should be felt deeply by the educator.” Maria Montessori

Authentic Characteristics of Montessori Education

  • Children are inspired through presentations
  • Allows for spontaneous activity
  • Individualized education — education that fits the needs of the child
  • Works from whole concepts and then breaks into parts
  • Children move from concrete to abstract
  • Beautifully prepared environments
  • Development of the whole child
  • Parent, child and teacher work together to support the child
  • Materials are developmentally sequenced
  • Multi-aged classrooms — 3-year cycle
  • Peer collaborative learning
  • Uninterrupted blocks of work time
  • Guided choice of work
  • Specifically designed developmentally appropriate materials
  • Materials are used to teach the concept; not textbooks or pencil and paper
  • Child repeats presentation with materials until a deep understanding is achieved
  • Teacher guides children according to “sensitive periods”

“Education should no longer be mostly imparting knowledge but must take a new path, seeking the release of human potentials.” Dr. Maria Montessori

Social and Emotional Development, Self Development, Cognitive Development

What are self-development skills?

  • Follows directions
  • Responsibility
  • Self-control
  • Exhibits self-confidence
  • Exhibits self-motivation
  • Seeks help and asks questions
  • Accepts guidance and direction
  • Independence
  • Concentration and focus
  • Organization of work
  • Organization of time
  • Able to transition
  • Takes on new challenges

(Stephen Hughes, Executive Functioning Skills)

Prepared Indoor Environment

  • Classroom environment supports group and individual activity and is suited to the needs of the students.
  • Rooms are open and spacious.
  • Children isolate their space on a rug or table.
  • Walls are uncluttered with beautiful pieces of art.
  • Each area of the curriculum is well defined.
  • Design and flow of the classroom create a learning environment that accommodates choice.
  • Environment encourages creative expression and spontaneous activity.
  • Everything is child-sized to support independence.
  • Spaces for large group, small group, and individual work space.
  • Classrooms have a feeling of home: rugs, lamps, flowers, plants, etc.
  • Classroom environment is free of clutter and ordered.
  • The teacher work space should not be in the classroom space.
  • Multiple kinds of work spaces.
  • You do not need a table for every child.
  • Space should encourage no more than two children to work together.
  • Preparation of the environment is done before children arrive or after they leave.

What is a “typical” Montessori student?

  • Independent
  • Responsible
  • Self-Disciplined
  • Self-Motivated
  • Concentrated/Focused
  • Joyful Learner
  • “Normalized”
  • Scientist
  • Respectful
  • Collaborates
  • Thinker
  • Problem Solver
  • Makes Connections
  • Makes a positive contribution to his/her community
  • Peacebuilder

Why Montessori?

  • Individualized education
  • Didactic materials
  • Allows movement
  • Teach to child’s interest
  • Differential learning
  • Have three years in one classroom
  • Have a supportive community
  • Understanding, respectful teachers
  • Teacher, child, and parents work together as a team
  • Teachers won’t ask for educational evaluation
  • Teachers supplement curriculum with new materials

Can we serve children with learning difficulties?

  • Maria Montessori first started with children with special needs.
  • She believed in the possibility of all children.
  • She developed didactic materials that with repetition reinforced a deep understanding of a specific concept.
  • She knew you had to arouse the interest in the child.
  • She said to saturate the children with presentations.
  • Through observation, she would change materials to meet the needs of the child.
  • First, look at your environment, then yourself, then the child.

Trent Celebrates 35 Years!

In case you missed it, we were featured in an article by Ft. Thomas Matters about our 35 year anniversary!

Fort Thomas resident Jan Haas decided that she wanted to work with children outside of the traditional teaching method while attending Hanover College. So, after receiving a B.A. in sociology and early childhood education, Haas took Montessori training with the dream of eventually starting her own school.

“During my written and oral exams, Renilda Montessori, Maria Montessori’s granddaughter, encouraged me to start my own Montessori school,” Haas says. “I worked one year for a Parent Coop in Fairfield, Ohio, and then decided to open Trent the following year.”

Since opening 35 years ago, Trent Montessori in Newport has served more than 400 children from Fort Thomas.

Thirty-five years ago Haas and her husband, Eric Haas (the mayor of Fort Thomas), lived in an 1889 Victorian called “The Trent House”—a Kentucky landmark—in Newport’s Mansion Hill neighborhood. “We started the school in this historic home,” Haas says. They applied through the Kentucky Department of Education as a private school and opened Trent Montessori’s doors on September 15, 1981. In 1982 they moved the school to its current location, a historic home at 305 Park Ave., Newport.

“When I started Trent I was pregnant with our first child, Lan,” Haas says. “I was so excited to start Trent so that I would be able to have my own children with me during the work day.” This job perk continues for Trent’s teachers today. “They are able to bring their own babies/toddlers to Trent during their work day, which allows them to be with their child during the wonderful, changing, early years of life. This is definitely a win/win for all.”

Two years later Ryan joined the Haas family; four years later, Erin. And each of Haas’ children stayed with her as she taught, sometimes sitting in the classroom while Trent children read them a story.

“We started with two families (four children) one Caucasian and one African-American,” Haas says. “I felt that this was the perfect beginning for what would become a diverse Montessori school.” Haas says she also wanted to offer an authentic Montessori school for all economic backgrounds. “Maria started her first Casa de Bambini in San Lorenzo, Italy, for children, some with learning difficulties, and living in the slums,” she says. “Eric and I were fortunate to visit her school and seeing the school and surroundings confirmed my thoughts that Montessori should be available for all children.” 

As such, Haas says she has tried to keep Trent Montessori’s tuition as low as she can so that all children may have the experience of a Montessori education if they wish. “We have grown from four to 60,” she says. “We added our Extended Care after four years and today many of our families are enrolled in our Montessori/Extended Care classes.”
13248566_10153467254002136_8892925363055997533_oSeveral of Trent’s graduates have returned to the school as part of the teaching team, and now graduates’ children attend. “Having my daughter working at Trent, and having my own grandchildren attend Trent is a dream come true,” Haas says.

Haas’ daughter, Erin Eckstein, received her B.A. in elementary education from Hanover College and then took an additional two years of training in Montessori. “I was so happy when Erin joined the Trent teaching team in 2012 and is now the Assistant Administrator and one of the lead Montessori Directresses,” Haas says.

Additional staff includes Jenny Adams (the other Montessori Directress and Fort Thomas resident); Cheri Helton; Megan Blosser; Courtney Blosser (a Trent graduate), Samantha McKinney (a Trent graduate and Fort Thomas resident); Jessi Ross; and Andi Tabor (Trent’s social media manager and blog contributor, and a Trent graduate and Fort Thomas resident).

“[They] are dedicated and caring individuals who are helping prepare our students for their future,” Haas says. “We will continue to be focused on preparing our students to be lifelong learners. While the Montessori method has been around for over 100 years, there has been more recent admiration for this teaching style. Our hopes for the future are that more parents become familiar with Montessori and decide to place their children in an environment to help them grow as independent, lifelong learners.” 

The mission of Trent Montessori is “to provide an authentic Primary Montessori education in a loving and nurturing environment. As a young child once said to Maria Montessori, ‘Help me to help myself’ we are dedicated to helping each child reach his or her fullest potential by meeting their developmental and social needs which will guide them to become successful members of their community.”

(To see how Montessori relates to Google and Amazon, go here.)

For more information about Trent Montessori and to find out about enrollment, visit their website here. “Most children are placed on our waiting list when they are infants,” Haas says. “The earliest you may put your child on the list is when the parent knows the sex of the baby.” 

Haas also notes that it’s important to observe a Montessori school prior to making your final decision. “Unfortunately Maria Montessori did not copyright the term, Montessori,” she says.

According to Haas, things to look for in a true Montessori school include a directress with a recognized AMI or AMS certification, limited adults in the classroom in order that the children will become independent, a mixed-age classroom of 3- to 6-year-olds, and a complete set of didactic Montessori materials “in a beautifully prepared environment for children to develop a love of learning.” 

“Children are human beings to whom respect is due, superior to us by reason of their innocence and of the greater possibilities of their future.” —Maria Montessori, 1870-1952

You can find the original story here: