Where did Montessori come from?
Montessori (pronounced MON-tuh-SORE-ee) education was founded in 1907 by Dr. Maria Montessori, the first woman in Italy to become a physician. She based her educational methods on scientific observation of children’s learning processes. Guided by her discovery that children teach themselves, Dr. Montessori designed a “prepared environment” in which children could freely choose from a number of developmentally appropriate activities. Now, nearly a century after Maria Montessori’s first casa dei bambini (“children’s house”) in Rome, Montessori education is found all over the world, spanning ages from birth to adolescence.
What is the difference between Montessori and traditional education?
At the under age six level (infant, toddler, and primary), Montessori emphasizes learning through all five senses, not just through listening, watching, or reading. Children in Montessori classes learn at their own, individual pace and according to their own choice of activities from hundreds of possibilities. They are not required to sit and listen to a teacher talk to them as a group, but rather are engaged in individual or group activities of their own, with materials that have been introduced to them 1:1 by the teacher who knows what each child is ready to do. Learning is an exciting process of discovery, leading to concentration, motivation, self-discipline, and a love of learning.
Above age 6 children learn to do independent research, arrange field trips to gather information, interview specialists, create group presentation, dramas, art exhibits, musical productions, science projects, and so forth. There is no limit to what they created in this kind of intelligently guided freedom. There no text books or adult-directed group lessons and daily schedule. There is great respect for the choices of the children, but they easily keep up with or surpass what they would be doing in a more traditional setting. There is no wasted time and children enjoy their work and study. The children ask each other for lessons and much of the learning comes from sharing and inspiring each other instead of competing with each other.
Montessori classes place children in three-year-or-more age groups (3-6, 2.5-6, 6-12, and so on), forming communities in which the older children spontaneously share their knowledge with the younger ones. Montessori represents an entirely different approach to education.
Can I do Montessori at home with my child?
A. Yes, you can use Montessori principles of child development at home. Look at your home through your child’s eyes. Children need a sense of belonging, and they get it by participating fully in the routines of everyday life. “Help me do it by myself” is the life theme of the preschooler, school age child, teenager, and young adult.
Can you find ways for your child to participate in meal preparation, cleaning, gardening, caring for clothes, shoes, and toys? Providing opportunities for independence is the surest way to build your child’s self-esteem and to build the skills needed for life-long learning.
Is Montessori good for children with learning disabilities? What about gifted children?
Montessori is designed to help all children reach their fullest potential at their own unique pace. A classroom whose children have varying abilities is a community in which everyone learns from one another and everyone contributes. Moreover, multi-age grouping allows each child to find his or her own pace without feeling “ahead” or “behind” in relation to peers.
What ages does Montessori serve?
There are more Montessori programs for ages 3-6 than for any other age group, but Montessori is not limited to early childhood. Many infant/toddler programs (ages 2 months to 3 years) exist, as well as elementary (ages 6-12), adolescent (ages 12-15) and even a few Montessori high schools.
Are Montessori children successful later in life?
Research studies show that Montessori children are well prepared for later life academically, socially, and emotionally. In addition to scoring well on standardized tests, Montessori children are ranked above average on such criteria as following directions, turning in work on time, listening attentively, using basic skills, showing responsibility, asking provocative questions, showing enthusiasm for learning, and adapting to new situations.
Why don’t the children seem to be interacting with another very much?
There is as much interaction as the children desire, but the tasks are so satisfying that, for these few hours a day, children want to master the challenges offered by them. Then they become happier and kinder—true socialization. Also, since concentration is protected above all, as all “work” is respected, children learn early on not to interrupt someone who is concentrating.
Who accredits or oversees Montessori schools?
Unfortunately no one body can accredit the Montessori element of schools. There are thousands of Montessori schools in the world, but the word “Montessori” is not legally protected and can be used by anyone. This has allowed some less-than-authentic schools to tarnish the Montessori name here in the USA. An authentic Montessori school should be affiliated with either Association Montessori Internationale (AMI-USA) or American Montessori Society (AMS). Montessori School of Fort Myers is accredited with AMS. Parents considering placing a child in a Montessori school should ask about the school’s affiliation(s).
Parents can carefully research and observe a classroom in operation in order to choose an authentic Montessori school for their child.
Why does a Montessori education cost more than a traditional education?
At the 0 – 6 years level, Montessori education is often more expensive than traditional preschools because of three reasons. First, we pay our teachers well as Montessori credentialed teachers must have a bachelors degree and a Montessori credential (usually take 1-3 years to obtain). You can be comforted by the fact that your child’s teacher is highly educated. Second, materials are designed specifically for the Montessori environment and more expensive than traditional materials. Third, Montessori classrooms typically have low student to teacher ratios resulting in higher payroll expense. In education, as all other services, quality comes at a price and you get what you pay for.
Are Montessori schools religious?
Some are, but most are not. Montessori School of Fort Myers is secular. Some Montessori schools, just like other schools, operate under the auspices of a church, synagogue, or diocese, but most are independent of any religious affiliation.
Are all Montessori schools private?
No. Approximately 200 public schools in the U.S. and Canada offer Montessori programs, and this number is growing every year.
What special training do Montessori teachers have?
The two major organizations offering Montessori training in the United States are the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI, with a U.S. branch office called AMI-USA) and the American Montessori Society (AMS). Candidates must hold a bachelor’s degree and complete the Montessori training course, a practicum, and pass the final exam (typically a 1-3 year process).
The Montessori method
Protection of the “best” in each child through respect of choice and concentration
The most important discovery that Dr. Montessori has contributed to the field of child development and education is the fostering of the best in each child. She discovered that in an environment where children are allowed to choose their work and to concentrate for as long as needed on that task, that they come out of this period of concentration (or meditation or contemplation) refreshed and full of good will toward others. The teacher must know how to offer work, to link the child to the environment who is the real teacher, and to protect this process. We know now that this natural goodness and compassion are inborn, and do not need to be taught, but to be protected.
The schedule – The three-hour work period
Under the age of six, there are one or two 3-hour, uninterrupted, work periods each day, not broken up by required group lessons. Older children schedule meetings or study groups with each other and the teacher when necessary. Adults and children respect concentration and do not interrupt someone who is busy at a task. Groups form spontaneously or are arranged ahead by special appointment. They almost never take precedence over self-selected work.
Children are grouped in mixed ages and abilities: 0-18 months, 18 months – 3 years, 3-6, 6-9, 9-12, 12-15, and 15-18. There is constant interaction, problem solving, child-to-child teaching, and socialization. Children are challenged according to their ability and are never bored.
The environment is arranged according to subject area, and children are always free to move around the room instead of staying at desks. There is no limit to how long a child can work with a piece of material. At any one time in a day all subjects – math, language, science, history, geography, art, music, etc., are being studied, at all levels of progress.
Teaching method – “Teach by teaching, not by correcting”
There are no papers turned back with red marks and corrections. Instead the child’s effort and work is respected as it is. The teacher, through extensive observation and record-keeping, plans individual projects to enable each child to learn what he needs in order to improve.
Student to Teacher Ratios
At Montessori School of Fort Myers, we maintain the following ratios which are the maximums that we allow. frequently your child will enjoy even lower ratios on any given day.
Infant (0-18 months) 3:1 max
Toddlers (18 months – 3 years) 6:1 max
Primary (3-6) 10:1 max
Rather than lecturing to large or small groups of children, the teacher is trained to teach one child at a time, and to oversee thirty or more children working on a broad array of tasks. She is facile in the basic lessons of math, language, the arts and sciences, and in guiding a child’s research and exploration, capitalizing on his interest in and excitement about a subject. The teacher does not make assignments or dictate what to study or read, nor does she set a limit as to how far a child follows an interest.
The Montessori teacher spends a lot of time during teacher training practicing the many lessons with materials in all areas. She must pass a written and oral exam on these lessons in order to be certified. She is trained to recognize a child’s readiness according to age, ability, and interest in a specific lesson, and is prepared to guide individual progress.
Areas of study
All subjects are interwoven, not taught in isolation, the teacher modeling a “Renaissance” person of broad interests for the children. A child can work on any material he understands at any time.
There are no grades, or other forms of reward or punishment, subtle or overt. Assessment is by portfolio and the teacher’s observation and record keeping. The test of whether or not the system is working lies in the accomplishment and behavior of the children, their happiness, maturity, kindness, and love of learning and level of work.
Education of character is considered equally with academic education, children learning to take care of themselves, their environment, each other – cooking, cleaning, building, gardening, moving gracefully, speaking politely, being considerate and helpful, doing social work in the community, etc.
This FAQs are based on writings provided by the Michael Olaf Montessori Company.