The Montessori classroom is specially curated to provide children with a customized hands-on learning experience. It’s not a room for passive learning like what you see in traditional classrooms wherein kids would have to sit and listen to teachers for hours, but a space designed for curious little explorers to learn at their own pace.
So, what is in the Montessori classroom? The Montessori classroom has that distinct look or arrangement that focuses on providing a prepared environment for children. The learning space is structured in a way that allows flexibility and freedom of movement, sprawled with different interactive and sensory learning tools, toys, and materials that cater to multi-age groups.
If you are wondering what sets a Montessori classroom apart from traditional school classrooms, you will realize that the entire educational approach is different and better because it seeks to highlight and amplify the unique strengths and also individual traits of a child. If you are curious about what is in the Montessori classroom, and why a lot of parents entrust their children to the Montessori method, then this blog is for you.
What is a Montessori Classroom?
Why are parents and children enamored with the concept of a Montessori classroom? The Montessori classroom is a revolutionary or call it out-of-the-box educational method by Italian educator and physician Dr. Maria Montessori who believes that children should be given the freedom and support they need to learn and explore at their own pace. She has this unique concept of learning that is focused on discipline, independence, empathy, and collaboration.
In a Montessori classroom, the teacher needs to be observant of children to match the specialized learning activities that suit their unique individual interests and abilities. The teacher is not focused on leading the class or teaching lessons but on guiding them in their self-discovery and exploration.
Every child is unique and different. With that in mind, the Montessori classroom rules are designed in such a way that It is unstructured and flexible because the activities or modalities would depend on the unique needs and pace of the child. In this case, the teachers take their cue from the children. The Montessori method is heavily focused on providing a personalized educational or learning experience that respects the child’s natural pace or timeline of learning.
What Does the Montessori Classroom Look Like?
Montessori classrooms are child-directed and the emphasis would always be on providing an individualized approach, or not a canned method of teaching everyone in the same way. With Dr. Maria Montessori’s vision, every child is considered unique and the learning process should also have a prepared environment structured depending on the child’s needs and skills.
Focus on the Child
It’s not the teacher who leads and directs a Montessori classroom. The children remain to be the focus of the Montessori learning method. With that said, the learning activities cater to the unique and individual interests and needs of children. Teachers don’t rush the kids but are attuned to their unique pace.
Montessori classrooms would usually have children of mixed ages who are in the same classroom. With this setup, the older kids can guide and also mentor the younger children. In comparison, traditional educational systems are age-specific. The Montessori approach stems from the theme of collaboration which can be achieved with a diverse or mixed-age classroom.
While the teachers are hands-off, this allows children to fully experience hands-on learning. The Montessori approach is huge on experiential learning so it’s not all about reading textbooks or listening to lectures all day which is but is amplified by actual implementation or putting the knowledge into action. With that, the children are given different learning toys and materials that will help them develop their fine and gross motor skills, sensory abilities, and cognitive skills.
Freedom with Responsibility
Freedom has its limits too in the Montessori classroom. Children are free to choose their learning materials and toys but they are guided by teachers, especially the younger ones. Children are given work periods and they are free to choose whether they want to work with a group or solo. This helps set expectations and also outcomes. When children are given freedom, this also increases their self-confidence and in turn, they become more motivated. Further, this also increases their sense of responsibility with the understanding that freedom entails responsibility.
Unlike traditional school settings, the Montessori classroom supports individualized learning. This translates to teachers curating a personalized learning modality that is fit for the individual needs of children.
In addition to academic skills, Montessori classrooms also place a strong emphasis on social skills such as cooperation, communication, and conflict resolution. Children are encouraged to work together and to treat each other with respect and kindness. Traditional classrooms may also promote social skills, but this tends to be less of a focus.
The Montessori classroom isn’t a fan of tech or gadgets and focuses more on allowing children to learn by experiencing and manipulating physical learning materials. Yes, the Montessori approach is very hands-on and believes in integrating play and creative learning materials to boost learning.
Montessori classrooms practice a holistic approach when evaluating a child’s development or performance in academics. While traditional schools would always prioritize academic performance or grades, Montessori schools are quite the opposite and would base assessments on the holistic development or progress of children.
Orderly Classroom Environment
Children would always look forward to their classes because of the calm and organized Montessori classroom design. It isn’t very formal or academic but is a structured space that allows freedom of movement.
Teacher as a Guide
Teachers in the Montessori classroom don’t really act as a lecturer but is more of a guide that provides a nurturing and supportive environment to promote child’s learning.
The Montessori classroom is focused solely on the child and providing a holistic development that isn’t just looking at the grades, but evaluating the social, physical, and emotional development of children. No wonder many parents have jumped into the Montessori bandwagon for the above reasons. Traditional schooling may be the norm, but the Montessori method does have its compelling roster of advantages that will make you go for the better option.
What materials are used in a Montessori classroom? Montessori classrooms thrive in an environment that uses physical sensory learning toys and materials that help with learning language, numbers, socialization, independence, and empathy. Some examples of learning materials and toys found in the Montessori classroom are the following: storybooks, flipbooks, puzzle words, stacking toys, music and light toys, stamp game, balls, kinetic sand, play dough, coloring materials, number rods, sandpaper letters, painting sets, and the like. And these Montessori learning materials promote hands-on experiential learning that the child needs to develop practical life skills.
How is a Montessori classroom different from a traditional classroom?
So, what does a Montessori classroom look like? The Montessori classroom areas are very child-focused while the traditional classroom is led by the teacher. There are more lectures and passive learning with a traditional educational setup, while the Montessori method promotes freedom, independence, and active exploration. More so, Montessori learning promotes individualized and hands-on exploration using physical educational materials and would rarely introduce tech into the experiential learning activities.
The Montessori classroom and philosophy center on providing a nurturing and stimulating environment for kids to freely explore their surroundings and manipulate toys to build and develop their skills and independence. More so, the Montessori classroom promotes an individualized and personalized learning environment that is tailor-fit to every child. Overall, the Montessori method is deeply rooted in helping children develop that natural love for learning.