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.
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