What is the
purpose of a Montessori Education?
When cultivating a child’s natural desire to learn, you
help them reach their full potential. In the Montessori classroom this
objective is approached in two ways: first, by allowing each child to
experience the excitement of learning by his or her own choice rather
than by being forced; and, second, by helping children to perfect all
their natural tools for learning. The Montessori materials have this dual
long-range purpose in addition to their immediate purpose of giving specific
information to the child.
Could you explain
Montessori’s theory of “ Sensitive Periods”?
Another observation of Dr. Montessori’s, which has been reinforced
by modern research, is the importance of the sensitive periods for early
learning. These are periods of intense fascinations for learning a particular
characteristic or skill, such as going up and down steps, putting things
in order, counting, or reading. It is easier for the child to learn a
particular skill during the corresponding sensitive period than at any
other time in her life. The Montessori classroom takes advantage of this
fact by allowing the child freedom to select activities which correspond
to their own periods of interest.
At what age is it best to begin a Montessori Education?
Although entrance age varies in individual schools, a child can usually
enter a Montessori classroom between the ages of two and one half and
four, depending on when they can be happy and comfortable in a classroom
situation. They will begin the simplest exercises based on activities
which all children enjoy. The equipment which they use at three and four
will help them to develop the concentration, coordination and working
habits necessary for the more advanced exercises they will perform at
five and six. The entire program of learning is purposefully structured.
Therefore, optimum results cannot be expected for a child who misses the
early years of this cycle, or for one who is withdrawn before they finish
the basic materials described here.
Why mixed age groups?
If classroom equipment is to be challenging enough to provoke a learning
response, it must be properly matched to the standard which an individual
child has already developed in their past experience. This experience
is so varied that the most satisfying choice can usually offer them the
opportunity to choose from a wide variety of graded materials. The child
can grow as their interests lead them through one level of complexity
to another. Having children ages three through six together permits the
younger children to learn by example from the older children, and the
older ones an opportunity to reinforce their own knowledge,become leaders,
and grow in self esteem by helping the younger ones.
How can you accommodate the different abilities
in your Montessori Classroom?
Through teacher observations and materials that are designed to stimulate,
change and grow with the children, a variety of abilities are accommodated.
A younger child may work for many weeks on the same piece of equipment
without slowing the other members of the class. Advanced children in the
same room can move from one piece of equipment to another very quickly,
thus avoiding the boredom of waiting for other members of the class to
catch up. The children with a high level of ability are constantly challenged
by the wide variety of materials and their many uses.
It is a well-established fact that young children mature at very different
rates and their periods of readiness for academic subjects vary a great
deal. Because interest is stimulated and the materials are at hand whenever
a child is ready, academics can begin at an early age. However, very early
learning is not the norm, nor was it ever Dr. Montessori’s objective.
Her ideal was only that the learning experience should occur naturally
and joyfully at the proper moment for each individual child. “It
is true, we cannot make a genius”, Dr. Montessori once wrote, “we
can only give each individual the chance to fulfill their potential possibilities
to become an independent, secure and balanced human being”.
How are the children’s social needs
A classroom of Montessori children is a joy to watch. As the children’s
sense of pride in their work develops, so does their self-esteem and confidence.
The children interact continuously, there is a community feeling of respect,
love and cooperation among the children and the teachers.
What is your discipline policy?
The Montessori approach to development states, “Discipline is not
a fact, but a way”. This philosophy supports the belief that “true”
discipline comes from within and is born as a result of the child’s
developing inner growth. The delicate balance of freedom and structure
of the Montessori doctrine allows the child to reveal his or her progression
of inner self-discipline. Through order, self control and by using practical
problem solving skills, the child is able to achieve independence and
take responsibility for his or her own actions. Disciplinary measures
are not practices that are performed on the child, nor are they exercises
intended to control the child’s behavior. Rather, discipline is
viewed as a process that evolves. The role of the teacher is to guide
this evolution while supporting the child through his or her growth process.
This development continues until the child is comfortable and prepared
to understand the consequences of his or her behavior. Only through informed,
practiced behavior can the child realize and grow to their fullest potential.
Our Montessori classrooms have
only one rule: to take care and be respectful of everyone and everything.
If the rule were to be practiced by everyone, it would make for a more
harmonious world. Our teachers at Doughty Montessori are aware of the
importance of self-discipline. They have robust enthusiasm for learning,
a deep respect for all life, kindness, humor, gentleness and patience.
The nature of the Montessori materials and activities, along with the
freedom of the prepared environment, help the child to realize and develop
his or her sense of self-direction, independence, confidence, cooperation
What happens after Montessori?
Many parents ask how their child can make a successful transfer from Montessori
to a traditional school. The habits and skills, which a child develops
in a Montessori class, are good for a lifetime. They will help them to
work more efficiently, to observe more carefully and to concentrate more
effectively, no matter where they go. If they are in a stimulating environment,
whether at home or at school, their self-education - which is the only
real education - will continue.