Method

The first three years of life are the most critical in the development of human beings and their potential. The infant’s physical development is phenomenal as well as apparent and inspires our utmost care and attention.

Yet a profound and less obvious development is taking place within the child. Dr. Montessori refers to the child at this period as the spiritual embryo. A second embryonic period occurs after birth during the first three years of life when the child’s intelligence is formed, when the child acquires the culture and language into which he or she is born. It is a period when the core of personality, social being and the essence of spiritual life are developed. An understanding of the child’s development and the development of the human mind allows environments to be prepared to meet the needs of the infant and foster independence, psychomotor development and language acquisition (source – AMI).

The Montessori method has several key components that distinguish it from other modes of education. The classrooms are multi-aged, encompassing children in a 3-year mixed age group, and tend to be large, often with 28 – 30+ children per class. These features permit children to learn at their own pace and offer opportunity to both lead and follow. Montessori teachers or adults are specially trained in the developmental needs of the children at the age they serve. Their classroom, known as the prepared environment, boasts of beautifully constructed, scientifically designed hands-on manipulative materials, each one highlighting a particular idea or concept. the prepared environments support the development of the child in a complete manner, encompassing the social, physical, emotional, spiritual and intellectual development. The development of independence, free will and a love of work support the child in a lifetime of learning.

Supported by recent trends in brain research and highlighted in current scientific studies, Montessori education is an increasing popular alternative for many parents. More information is available at: http://www.montessori-science.org/.

The principle elements that one should be aware of are as follows:

Multi-age grouping

Children are grouped in mixed ages and abilities in three to six year spans: 0-3, 3-6, 6-12 (sometimes temporarily 6-9 and 9-12), 12-15, 15-18. There is constant interaction, problem solving, child-to-child teaching, and socialization.

Prepared Environments or Work Centers

The prepared environment is arranged according to subject area, and children are always free to move around the environment instead of staying at desks. There is no limit as to how long a child can work with a piece of material. At any one time in a day all subjects, namely; math, language, science, history, geography, art, music, etc., are learnt across all levels.

Teaching method – “Teach by teaching, not by correcting”

There are no papers turned back with red marks and corrections. Instead the child’s effort and work is respected as it is. The teacher, through extensive observation and record-keeping, plans individual projects to enable each child to learn what she or he needs to in order to improve.

Basic lessons

The Montessori adult spends a lot of time during his or her training practicing the many lessons with materials in all areas. She or he must pass a written and oral exam on these lessons in order to be certified. She is trained to recognize a child’s readiness according to age, ability, and interest in a specific lesson, and is trained and prepared to guide individual progress.

Environment Size

Except for infant/toddler groups, the most successful classes are of 30-35 children to two adults (who is very well trained for the level she is teaching), with two non-trained assistants. This is possible because the children stay in the same group for three to six years and much of the learning comes from the children and the environment.

Method

Learning styles

All kinds of intelligence and styles of learning are nurtured: musical, kinesthetic, spatial, interpersonal, intrapersonal, intuitive, and the traditional linguistic and logical-mathematical (reading, writing, and math).
This particular model is backed up by Harvard psychologist Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences.

(Please see http://www.howardgardner.com/MI/mi.htmlAssessment)

There are no grades, or other forms of reward or punishment, subtle or overt. Assessment is by portfolio and the teacher’s observation and record keeping. The test of whether or not the system is working lies in the accomplishment and behavior of the children, their happiness, maturity, kindness, and love of learning and level of work.

Character Education

Education of character is considered equally with academic education. This includes children learning to take care of themselves, their environment, each other – cooking, cleaning, building, gardening, moving gracefully, speaking politely, being considerate and helpful, doing social work in the community etc.

As can be seen the Montessori follows a unique method that considers various aspect of a child’s growth and and addresses each such aspect in a specific manner.