What is Montessori?
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 for her students to accommodate and stimulate their interests. The Montessori method has been in practice for over a century. Montessori education concentrates on the specific needs of the child. Children are taught one-on-one in a classroom referred to as the prepared environment. A prepared environment is a space designed to meet the requirements established by Maria Montessori. This shift in focus from the traditional classroom model helps create a better sense 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 classrooms, predicated on openness and diversity.
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.”
Dr. Angeline Lillard is a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia and has been studying the Montessori method for over two decades. In her best-selling book Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius, articles, educational DVDs, and speaking engagements, Dr. Lillard presents the theoretical principles of Dr. Montessori, the scientific research that has followed them, and how those principles function in the Montessori classroom.
The paradox of education is that once you learn something new, you disrupt the way things once were. Montessori is still relevant today because it prepares children for real-world experiences. Montessori teaches children to understand, think critically, and develop a procedural solution to a problem. Authentically, we believe that Montessori is the best education system to address the unique challenges of the twenty-first century.
What is a Montessori Classroom?
The prepared environment of a Montessori classroom allows children to explore their interests in a safe and supportive atmosphere. A Montessori classroom meets the needs of the individual while nurturing a sense of exploration, discovery, and accomplishment. Neat and orderly, the materials are carefully and meticulously displayed. The design of each activity fosters concentration, self-discipline, and, most importantly, confidence and independence for a lifetime of learning. While academics are often the perceived focus of schooling, social dynamism underlies the classroom experience. As we like to say, social success leads to academic success. If children are happy, they will 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 International training centers worldwide. In Montessori, teachers are referred to as guides, or directors and directresses, to emphasize their role of putting children in touch with their interests. As Montessori says, our purpose is to “help them to help themselves.” (The Absorbent Mind)
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. WEM is also an accredited member of the North West Association of Independent Schools (NWAIS), the Pacific Northwest Montessori Association (PNMA), and the Washington Federation of Independent Schools (WFIS).
What's the Difference Between Daycare and a Montessori School?
The primary focus of a daycare is caring for children. They aim to provide a safe environment where children are entertained, often with activities, crafts, and exercises. 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. In a school, the staff must 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 educational requirements of the staff members at the daycare or school you are interested in attending.