If you’re learning about Montessori Early Childhood Education for the first time, you might be skeptical. We don’t blame you. For those of us whose elementary school memories include copying words out of a book or memorizing times tables, Montessori’s “education should be fun” approach seems almost too good to be true.
However, behind Montessori’s play-based class structure is a rigorous, scientifically-designed methodology. Let’s take a look at what Montessori education really entails and how it can fuel your child’s overall development.
What is the Montessori Method?
The Montessori method refers to the educational philosophy and pedagogy developed by Dr. Maria Montessori over 100 years ago. A physician and educator, Dr. Montessori used years of research to develop a groundbreaking theory: Children reach their highest potential when allowed to follow their instincts.
A traditional classroom is centered around the teacher, who will lecture or lead activities for the entire class at once. In this structure, students are obligated to follow the teacher’s lead, regardless of whether they might learn more effectively through other methods.
The Montessori method turns this structure on its head, offering a student-centered approach. Montessori students work through a rigorous academic curriculum at their own pace. They can choose whether to work independently or in groups. Teachers are on hand to offer support and encouragement, nurturing each student’s individual passions and talents.
Beyond a rigorous academic education, what can the Montessori method offer your child?
Increased Confidence, Independence, and Leadership
Because Montessori students guide their own learning, they are empowered to become self-starters. Instead of automatically turning to a teacher for help, Montessor students are encouraged to problem-solve. This allows them to gain confidence, patience, and most importantly, teaches them how to learn.
Montessori students are also encouraged to help each other. In this way, students develop the ability to lead and effectively communicate.
Passion for Learning
A core tenet of Dr. Montessori’s philosophy is that learning should be fun. As such, the Montessori method is based on intentional play. Every educational tool in a Montessori classroom is designed to facilitate creativity and discovery.
For example, students might learn about the natural world by exploring outside, or use tactile materials to practice counting and math. In a Montessori school, play isn’t something that happens between classes–it’s the ultimate educational tool.
Love of Nature
As we mentioned, another groundbreaking facet of the Montessori curriculum is the idea that the entire world is a classroom. Montessori students learn to appreciate nature as both an outlet for exploration and a resource to protect.
Understanding of the Bigger Picture
In a traditional educational framework, academic subjects are taught separately. As a result, students learn or memorize information, but might not understand its broader context.
The Montessori curriculum is holistic, blending disciplines and fields of study. Montessori students are encouraged to see how subjects and ideas are connected: the why of everything they learn.
Development into a Citizen of the World
Above all, Montessori students are taught the collaborative values of cooperation, empathy, and courtesy. This encompasses everything from proper table manners to respect for peers, community members, and people of other cultures. A Montessori curriculum fosters the social development that nurtures young students into true citizens of the world.
If this sounds like a big claim, consider this 2017 study. In it, students who attended Montessori preschool demonstrated higher academic achievement and stronger social skills than those who attended more traditional institutions. And as another article citing the study adds: “They also reported enjoying school more.”