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An Introduction to the Montessori Philosophy and Methods

You may have heard the term 'Montessori' used before, but what does it actually mean? In short, Montessori is a child-centered educational approach that emphasizes learning through hands-on experience. Here is a brief overview of Montessori methods and philosophy so that you can decide if it's right for your family.

The Montessori Method

Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori developed the Montessori method in the early 1900s. It is based on the belief that children are natural learners who should be allowed to explore their interests at their own pace. The role of the teacher is to facilitate learning by providing a carefully prepared environment and appropriate materials rather than directing the learning with an 'eyes up on me' approach.

Some hallmark features of the Montessori method include mixed-age classrooms, multi-sensory materials, and an emphasis on independent learning. In a typical Montessori classroom, you will find students ranging in age from 18 months to 6 years old. Rasmussen University explains that this is "intended to foster peer-to-peer learning."

Multi-sensory materials are used throughout the Montessori classroom and are designed to engage all of the senses. For example, a tangible material might be used to represent a concept that is typically only taught abstractly. This concrete-to-abstract approach ensures that students really understand and internalize new information.

Additionally, because Montessori students are encouraged to work at their own pace and follow their own interests, they develop a strong sense of independence and self-motivation.

The Philosophy Behind Montessori Education

At its heart, Montessori education is founded on the belief that every child is unique and has unlimited potential. Therefore, students are encouraged to develop their own interests and talents rather than being confined to a rigid curriculum. This focus on individualized education means that no two Montessori programs look exactly alike — each one is tailored specifically to meet the needs of the children in that particular setting.

Montessori teachers strive to create a supportive and nurturing environment where every child feels valued. They believe in treating each child with respect and instilling a sense of compassion and empathy from an early age. Montessori teachers prepare their students to become well-rounded global citizens by promoting social and emotional development alongside academic growth.

If you're looking for an educational approach that emphasizes hands-on learning, independent exploration, and social-emotional development, then Montessori might be right for your family. Look for a kindergarten Montessori class offered near you to learn more.