Guided by her discovery that children teach themselves, Dr. Montessori designed a “prepared environment” in which children could freely choose from a number of developmentally appropriate activities.
Montessori principles emphasize learning through all five senses, not just through listening, watching or reading. Children in Montessori classes learn at their own, individual pace and according to their own choice of activities from hundreds of possibilities. Learning is an exciting process of discovery, leading to concentration, motivation, self-discipline, and a love of learning. Montessori classes place children in three year age groups forming communities in which the older children spontaneously share their knowledge with the younger ones.
Benefits of the Montessori Method:
- Three year age span of children within the classroom – A sense of community is established when the older children mentor the younger ones. Mixed age groupings help to eliminate competition and thus aids in the building of self esteem.
- Self correcting materials within the environment – Children learn through their own errors to make the correct decision, versus having the teacher point it out to them.
- Individual learning takes place within the environment – Montessori recognizes that each child learns at a different pace and allows that growth to take place.
- Children are quiet by choice and out of respect for others within the environment – The Montessori classroom allows children to return to the “inner peace” that is a natural part of their personalities.
- There is an emphasis on concrete learning rather than on abstract learning – Children need to experience concepts in concrete “hands on” ways.
- It is a child centered environment – All the materials are easily within the child’s reach, placed on shelves at their levels. The tables and chairs are small enough for the children to sit in comfortably, while the pictures and decorations are placed at the children’s eye level.
- The children work for the joy of working and the sense of discovery – Children are natural leaders or “sponges” and delight in learning new tasks. Their interest lie in the work itself rather than in the end product.
- The environment provides a natural sense of discipline – The “ground rules” or expectations of the child are clearly stated and are enforced by the children and the teachers.
- The environment is “prepared” for the children – Everything in the room has a specific place on the shelf. Children are orderly by nature; and having the room set this way allows them to grow in a very positive way.
- The teacher plays a very unobtrusive role in the classroom – The children are not motivated by the teacher, but by the need for self development.
- The items found on the shelves in the classroom are “materials” rather than “toys.” The children “work with the materials” rather than “play with the toys.” This allows the children to gain the most benefit from the environment by giving them a sense of worth – the same sense of worth adults experiences as they go to their jobs and do their “work.”