As a Montessori parent, you may often get asked about what exactly the Montessori method of education entails. Even if you’ve spent several years at a Montessori school, when put on the spot it can often feel overwhelming to synthesize your experience and over 100 years of educational tradition into a coherent, tidy response. Here are some key points to help you explain Montessori in just 30 seconds.
- Montessori is completely hands-on, using intentionally designed materials that students are able to manipulate in order to develop a concrete understanding of concepts. Learning is visual, tactile and practical, not just conceptual
- Lessons are given individually or in small groups and tailored to fit each child’s developmental needs. Children are never bored or overwhelmed. They can progress as quickly as they are able and receive extra attention and practice as needed.
- Multi-age classrooms allow younger students to observe the more challenging work of their older peers, which encourages exploration and solidifies a better understanding of the relationship between introductory and advanced concepts. Older students serve as mentors to their younger peers, which helps them develop leadership skills and self-confidence. Children are generally in the same classroom with the same teacher and peers for a 3-year cycle, allowing the child to grow in a consistent environment and transform from the mentee to the mentor.
- There is an emphasis on educating the whole child. In addition to academics, practical life skills such as cooking and cleaning, emotional health, physical wellness, interpersonal communication, and visual and performing arts are integrated throughout the curriculum. Montessori teachers also follow of model of Peace Education to cultivate kind, respectful individuals and a harmonious classroom community.
- Children in a Montessori classroom practice ‘freedom within limits’. The environment is prepared for the child to navigate it as independently as possible, while also following clear expectations set by classroom staff and community guidelines established by their peers.
- Developing self-motivation and concentration are core tenants of Montessori. This is done by letting children explore their own interests at their own pace and emphasizing the satisfaction of completing a task or project.
Of course, there is much more to Montessori and seeing really is believing. Hopefully, though, this outline will help you hit the highlights for any questioning friends and family members you may encounter.