What is the Montessori Approach?
The Montessori method of education emphasises independence. In other words, this system of education helps children develop natural interests and pursue activities instead of instructing them in detail.
About children and the Montessori approach
This approach views children as naturally eager for knowledge. As a result, the role of parents and educators is to ensure children are in a supportive and nurturing environment. Although this is always critical in early childhood learning, in Montessori approach the emphasis is on making sure the environment lets children practice their independence and develop their natural interests.
As a result, the environment of the Montessori approach has a layout and arrangement that facilitates movement and activity. In other words, there should be a lot of freedom so that children can practice their independence in the first place.
In addition, the Montessori approach and environments have the following characteristics:
- Multi-age grouping (children are grouped in mixed ages and abilities)
- Richer and more varied social interaction (as a result of interacting with children of varying ages)
- Three hours of uninterrupted learning and “work” period (enough time for children to develop their natural interests)
- Focus on hands-on independent learning
Notice that this approach respects choice, which comes hand in hand with independence. With this freedom of choice, children can better focus and dedicate their time on a particular task. Perhaps they chose that task or learning experience because they’re naturally curious about it or they have a genetic or social predisposition towards that experience.
Also notice that it’s different from traditional education. In Montessori classes, children are allowed to learn at their own individual pace. This encourages independent or proactive discovery where more excitement can be found. This is in contrast to traditional education where there’s less independence (because the teacher sits in front of the classroom and often, the children are required to listen).
The Montessori method may lack that structure that traditional education has. However, unstructured experiences encourage choice and discovery. This can help children further develop their initiative and independence. These skills are vital in preparing for the big school and beyond.