Whole Earth Montessori

What is Montessori?

The Philosophy

Dr. Maria Montessori, often considered the first female physician in Italy, innovated the Montessori approach to education. The Montessori method concentrates on the specific developmental needs of the child. Montessori believed that everyone learns differently and at their own pace. She created a new type of classroom and a prepared environment to accommodate and stimulate her students’ interests. The Montessori method has successfully been practiced for over a century. Montessori education concentrates on the specific needs of the child. Children are taught on a one-on-one basis in a Prepared Environment, specially designed to meet the requirements established by Maria Montessori. This shift in focus, from the traditional classroom model, helps create a better sense of self for the children, both in terms of independence and self-discipline. Not only are the educational needs of the children met and nurtured, but also, and just as crucial in Montessori, their social development is enhanced in mixed-age environments, predicated on openness and diversity.


The Neuroscience

Dr. Angeline Lillard writes, “Physical movements are not the only method of brain development supported by Montessori education. Dr. Montessori spoke of the “absorbent mind” of a child being like a sponge, literally soaking up what they see and do. Although she had little actual neurological research to back up her claim at the time, a discovery in the area of neurology, called mirror neurons, goes hand in hand with her hypotheses. Incredibly, Dr. Montessori was able to develop her materials without the benefits of today’s technology. She could not view a child’s brain to see which areas lit up when they were using the Cylinder Blocks, and yet through observation, she knew that a child’s fine-motor skills, shape and size discrimination, and hand/eye coordination were being strengthened through this work.” Read More Here, “Dr. Angeline Lillard is a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia and has been studying Montessori’s methods for more than two decades. In her best-selling book Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius, articles, educational DVDs, and speaking engagements, Dr. Lillard presents Montessori’s theoretical principles, the scientific research that has followed them, and how they are implemented in a Montessori classroom.

Who Accredits Montessori Schools?

As you explore Montessori schools, one of the most important things to consider is if the Montessori school you are interested in is certified and if the teachers are Montessori trained. Anyone can use the Montessori name, so it is vital to research the qualifications of the school. Whole Earth Montessori School is proud to be a Pathway 10 American Montessori Society (AMS) accredited school, as well, Whole Earth Montessori is an accredited member of the North West Association of Independent Schools (NWAIS), the Pacific Northwest Montessori Association (PNMA), and Washington Federation of Independent Schools (WFIS).

Montessori and Traditional Education

When we think of traditional education, we typically think of a form of an industrialized system, one that was created to maximize productivity by equipping students with the necessary tools needed to enter the workforce. This education system, often compared to a factory style of education, had one curriculum that efficiently and productively served everyone. Students were evaluated by homework and tests, and those results were compared to a database of other students, by which they were measured. A specific amount of time was allocated to each subject, with an authoritative set of standardized instructions. When the bell sounded, it was time to shift gears.

The Approach

The paradox of education is that once you learn something new, you disrupt the way things once were. What makes Montessori so relevant today is that it prepares children for real-world experiences. The focus is not on how to memorize, recite, or even how to solve a problem, but instead how to think through, understand, and ultimately invent new questions, for tasks yet to be determined. Authentically, we believe that Montessori was the only education system adequately prepared to address the unique challenges of the twenty-first century. In a phrase, a child of Montessori is instructed for the times in which they live.

What is a Montessori Classroom?

The Montessori classroom, or Prepared Environment, allows children to explore their interests in a safe and supportive environment. The classroom nurtures exploration, discovery, and accomplishment, as it strives to meet the individual needs of the children. Neat and orderly, the materials are carefully, meticulously displayed. The activities are designed to foster concentration, self-discipline, and, most importantly, the confidence and independence for a life of learning. While academics are often the perceived focus, because they are so clearly identified and understood, a social dynamism underlies the entire classroom experience. As we like to say, social success leads to academic success. If children are happy, they’ll naturally want to learn.

How are Montessori Teachers Trained?

Montessori guides learn the principles and methods of the Montessori approach to education, both theoretically and with hands-on, practical, real-life experience, in accredited Association Montessori Internationale training centers throughout the world. In Montessori, teachers are referred to as guides, or directors and directresses, to emphasize the role of putting children in touch with their interests, as opposed to overt instruction. As Montessori says, our purpose is to “help them to help themselves.” (The Absorbent Mind)

What's the Difference Between Daycare and a Montessori School?

A daycare is primarily set up to ensure the Care of children. They aim to provide a safe environment where children are entertained, often with activities, crafts, and exercises, until they can be picked up. Indirectly, daycare providers work to implement a curriculum. However, the primary role of schools is to offer children a safe environment in which to learn, with a direct emphasis placed on education. The staff is required to meet certain academic qualifications and have specific knowledge or expertise. As you try to decide what is best for your child, it is imperative to note the staff’s requirements at the daycare or school that you are interested in attending.

Montessori and Online Learning

When we think about the quality of learning experience a child can have in a remote setting, we are reminded of Dr. Montessori’s belief that children need to be educated for the times in which they live. Life during a pandemic requires different skills, abilities, and approaches. Adapting to a remote learning environment during times of crisis seems to meet Dr. Montessori’s edict.