Montessori Method

I have studied the child. I have taken what the child has given me and expressed it and that is what is called the Montessori Method.

~ Maria Montessori ~

The Montessori Method of education is concerned with the development of human potential. Children within the Montessori environment develop qualities such as independence, self-confidence, self-discipline and persistence. Maria Montessori observed that children crave stimulation and needed a sensory-rich environment to learn and thrive.

Absorbent Mind

According to Montessori, children aged 0-6 possess “an absorbent mind” when they learn with “intense mental activity”1. During the first phase, age 0-3, children learn basic human functionality like eating, talking, walking and begin to gain control of their hands and body functions; this is called the “unconscious absorbent mind”. For the second phase, age 3-6, Montessori calls this the “conscious absorbent mind”.

This is when children consciously work towards awareness and the freedom to choose, to concentrate, and to seek an internal order.

Sensitive Periods

In addition to the absorbent mind concept, Montessori developed the theory that there are “sensitive periods” in which children learn. During these times, children will be naturally motivated to seek objects and relationships in their environment and to aquire certain knowledge and skills. These periods occur universally for all children and provide optimum learning opportunities for them.

Children are thus encouraged to gain independence from a young age and their catch-cry is “Help me to help myself.” It is a method that believes in allowing children to develop at their own natural pace to bring forth the best in themselves.

Prepared Environment

In the prepared environment, there are 5 areas of development: Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, Mathematics, and Cultural. Each areas are equipped with many beautiful and purposeful learning materials. Through the use of specifically designed materials children learn physical, mental, spiritual, emotion-handling and social skills. These tools are self-correcting so when children perform the task correctly, it is self-evident. Montessori materials also cater to children’s natural fascination with sensorial experiences (touch, taste, smell, sounds, weight). Children learning under the Montessori Method are energized. They develop a desire to play, work, learn, and create. This method cultivates a love of lifelong learning. Click here to learn more about Prepared Environment.

Mixed Ages

A Montessori classroom with mixed aged groupings encourages independence and learning from peers. Montessori children are put into classes which span three years age groups. Traditional classrooms encourage very little interaction between students. They are asked to keep their active bodies in one spot for long periods of time. The Montessorians notice children’s minds are more active when they are able to move around and interact with other children. Modeling behavior is the primary way in which children learn. It provides younger children with the opportunity to learn from older children as well as giving older children an opportunity to be role models. The older children learn to be patient and develop their verbal skills to communicate with their peers in a relaxed environment. Visualizing and verbalizing how to perform tasks reinforces children’s knowledge of the concepts.

The younger children look up to their older classmates. They learn good manners from them and are able to practice their listening skills. They get more frequent individual attention because now they have a whole ‘class’ of potential teachers instead of one.

Also, in a mixed age setting, the children remain with the same teacher for the next two to three years. There will be no “getting to know each other” time typical of a new school year with a new traditional classroom teacher. This continuity will save time as the teacher is already aware of the child’s capabilities and learning style. There is no lag time for a class transition.

1Montanaro, Dr. Silvana Quattricchi, Understanding the Human Being (Mountain View: Nienhuis Montessori, 1991).