In general, the answer to both questions is a resounding 'yes'. Studies have shown that children who attend Montessori schools experience greater gains in executive function, reading, mathematics, vocabulary and social problem solving than those who attend other types of schools. This self-directed learning style allows young children to quickly gain a sense of independence and self-confidence. But is this method of learning better than that of traditional schools? Montessori schools are popular, but what makes them different from conventional nursery schools? To understand the history of the Montessori philosophy, how well children learn in Montessori preschool centers, and what parents should look for and avoid if they go the Montessori route, here are some basics.
The Montessori Method was developed by Dr. Maria Montessori, an Italian doctor born in 1870. Fascinated by children, she observed them closely and developed a theory of human development based on the idea that children instinctively know what they need to learn and that, when surrounded by the right practical materials, they can educate themselves independently. Another key concept is that children learn by practicing the types of “real” activities they see adults doing.
The Montessori school was very successful and soon began to appear in other parts of Europe and the United States. Montessori preschool classrooms tend to look very different from “traditional” preschool classrooms. Children from 3 to 6 years old all work in the same room, so that the little ones can learn from their elders and older children can develop a sense of leadership and authority. When children go to Montessori preschool centers, they stay with the same teacher for all three years.Montessori preschool centers can work well for those students who need more freedom and flexibility.
Some especially energetic children may need regular breaks, and good teachers can help students recognize when they need them and what kind of breaks help them the most. It is important to note that schools can call themselves “Montessori” even if they are not following the true Montessori philosophy. Ultimately, whether a school is classic or supplemented Montessori or not Montessori at all, the best preschool for your child is one where they feel good and comfortable. Do students seem happy and relaxed? Is the classroom environment positive and conducive to learning, and do teachers seem warm and responsive? Parenting often requires trusting your gut and finding the right preschool for your child should also take advantage of those instincts.Montessori is not a bad program, as it focuses on promoting independence and encouraging growth at an individual pace.
There have been thousands of children who have enjoyed this method. However, some drawbacks include price, lack of availability and an overly flexible curriculum. The Montessori Method promotes order, coordination, concentration and independence for children from the moment they enter the classroom. Classroom design, materials, and daily routines support the student's emerging self-regulation, the ability to educate themselves and think about what is learned from young children through adolescents.
The sequence of Montessori lessons aligns well with state learning standards, ensuring that children are aware of complex learning concepts through hands-on experiences that lead to deep understanding. And through explanation, Montessori educators are able to respond to criticism with why the method has been developed in such a way and why they think it is the best way to shape young minds. Montessori students are seen as individuals and the method respects that by eliminating the rigidity and structure found in traditional classrooms. Known for learning at an individual pace and encouraging independence, the Montessori Method also encourages empathy, a passion for social justice and the joy of lifelong learning.
After learning more about this educational approach you can decide if you want to teach in an authentic Montessori school or if you just want to incorporate some Montessori principles into your teaching.