“The environment must be rich in motives which lend interest to activity and invite the child to conduct his own experiences. " - Dr. Maria Montessori
Unlike the educational fads that come and go, the Montessori method has been used for almost a century. It is a curriculum that permits children to progress at their own pace. Children are not forced to adhere to artificial norms. It is a demanding program for our teachers because teachers work with students as individuals, not as a class.
Each child's progress is monitored individually and lessons are offered to children when they are developmentally ready; not on a timetable. This creates an academic environment that is enthusiastic, energetic, and most importantly, effective.
The Gift of Time
If you have ever tried to explain what Montessori is to friends and family you know it can be hard to capture in words. After all, Montessori schools look and feel very different from traditional preschools. The classroom is set up to resemble a house with child sized furniture and beautiful materials to work with. There are no bright posters on the wall, there are no 'centers' where children are directed to play for 30 minutes at a time, group instruction is very limited, and there are no special subjects taught by adults coming in and out of the class. Hmmm, one might ask, 'Well, what do they DO?'
Instead of teacher centered education, the Montessori classroom is completely child centered. We allow children to become self directed and confident decision makers by giving them long periods of time to work independently or one on one with the teacher.
Time. Time is something that can be hard to come across, especially for a young child who is always trying to keep up with adult demands.
As moms and dads we know that keeping a schedule is necessary to meet the needs of everyone in the family. Does this sound familiar? "Come on, hurry up, we're going to be late" "Stop wasting time" "We don't have much time" "It's time to go". I know these phrases are all too common in my house.
When children enter a Montessori classroom they do not have to follow the schedule of an adult. Instead, they instruct themselves through materials that allow them to make their own discoveries about how things work. Of course, the materials are presented one on one by the teacher (who keeps very specific lesson plans and records for each child) but once they have been presented the child is free to work with that material for as long as he or she wishes. The child gains knowledge through concrete experience and concentration.
When the child is not waiting for the next person to come through the door, she can stop looking for what is next and enjoy being present in the moment. There is no feeling of 'Hurry up, put your work away, it's time to do ______________." We have the luxury of working at the child's pace in the Montessori classroom, and when children are given time and space, what they can do is truly amazing!