Let’s look at what Montessori learning is, as well as the principles of Montessori education, and the pros and cons of the method in child development.
Rather than using formal teaching methods, Dr. Maria Montessori developed the Montessori method of education in the early 20th century. It is particularly prominent in early childhood education and is effective in preschool children’s development.
Understanding Montessori Learning
Dr. Montessori believed children learn better when they’re allowed to choose what to learn. This philosophy is what Montessori schools follow.
The Montessori education system is a child-centered education technique involving child-led activities, classrooms with children of varying ages, and Montessori teachers who encourage independence among the children.
What Makes Montessori Classrooms Unique?
Unlike traditional classrooms, a Montessori classroom is unique in the following ways:
- A Montessori teacher doesn’t stand at the front of the classroom; instead, moves from group to group.
- There are multiple activity stations for children to select all day long.
- It is a non-traditional grading system, without grades and tests of the traditional education programs.
- The focus is on the whole child – including physical, emotional, social, and intellectual development.
Characteristics of Montessori Learning Process
A Montessori school incorporates a learning process with the following characteristics:
- Hands-on learning: A prepared environment and Montessori materials that provide corrective feedback help children learn better and correct their own mistakes.
- Mixed-Age groups: Montessori classrooms are arranged in age groups of infants to 3 years, 3 – 6 years, 6 – 9 years, and 9 – 12 years.
- Interactive teaching in small groups: With interactive lessons, a Montessori educator guides small groups in collaborative play, encouraging social interaction and promoting social skills development.
- Freedom of choice: A child-led learning environment involves children freely choosing from the displayed work materials.
- No rewards: Children are self-motivated to learn and aren’t rewarded with grades, candy, or gold stars. The learning itself makes a rewarding activity, helping attain optimal development.
The Principles of Montessori Education
The principles upon which the Montessori method was founded and continues to be based are:
- Respect the child: Give them the freedom of choice, to do and learn by themselves, and do not interrupt their concentration. Observe without being judgemental.
- Self-education: Children have a natural desire to learn. Helping them learn through play, with the right environment, guidance, and encouragement helps develop independence for natural development.
- Children’s absorbent minds: Children are constantly learning and observing their surroundings. Actions help them learn best than words.
- A prepared environment: With an environment that has been adapted for children, it helps them do things by themselves. Apart from freedom of choice, materials are kept accessible to children in an orderly manner.
- Sensitive periods: Identify when children are more ready to learn specific new skills and provide the necessary resources to help them acquire them.
Essential Elements for Montessori
The Montessori practice requires these essential elements, as per the American Montessori Society and Association Montessori Internationale:
- Multi-age classrooms
- Freedom, within limits
- Child-selected activities from the available range of options
- A trained teacher experienced in observation of a child’s abilities, characteristics, innate talents, and tendencies
- Uninterrupted work times
- Prepared environment
- Specialized educational materials made of wood rather than plastic
- A discovery model that allows students to learn hands-on
Pros of Montessori Education
With Dr. Montessori’s Education for Human Development listing her radical discoveries, it’s clear that her philosophy was a transformation in children’s attitudes. There are notables pros of the Montessori system of education.
Cultivates Love for Learning
Making learning fun helps Montessori students retain the love for learning long-term. The unique learning environment with specially designed learning materials makes it fun and exciting for children.
In addition to developing their communication, social, and emotional skills, it also keeps them curious to learn new things.
Enhanced Social Interaction
In multi-age classrooms, children learn from each other, communicate, and improve life skills such as inclusion and acceptance. Not only do children learn from one another, but they also teach one another.
The design of Montessori classrooms provides a fascinating and friendly environment that helps children learn and grow at their own pace. It allows them to explore things and activities based on their interests, thus improving their concentration and coordination.
Montessori students tend to be more independent in working around situations and thinking independently. With the freedom of choice, a sense of confidence gets instilled in the children, allowing them to be creative and develop their knowledge and skills.
Cons of Montessori Education
As good as it gets, a few cons are associated with the Montessori method of education.
The use of high-quality, long-lasting learning materials and the thorough training for these materials for children results in an expensive mode of education.
Not Accessible to Everyone
Most Montessori programs are private and charge considerable fees for admissions, making it difficult for lower-income families to afford them.
However, there are Montessori charter schools that are more accessible. Studies show that disadvantaged children from low-income families who attend public Montessori schools fare better in several measures than children who attend traditional schools.
Too Much Independence Might Not be Good
While Montessori does foster a good sense of independence and self-guided work with a prepared environment, real-life situations could get challenging to handle. Since the children are free to learn by themselves, it may get complicated when they have to work in teams and under authority.
Small Peer Groups
Montessori classes have a small community of students, and the children spend time with the same peers. While this lets them make good friends, their social skills are restricted.
The classroom’s learning environment lets them interact freely but is far less structured and spontaneous.
Would You Opt for Montessori Education?
Deciding to go the Montessori way for your child needs careful thought and commitment. Being well-informed about the benefits and drawbacks of Montessori-style learning is essential. Selecting a Montessori early learning center after thorough research for your little one is equally important.
Read into sensorial learning in the Montessori education system to know more about it.