What Does Montessori Education Mean (8 Guiding Principles)

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Montessori schools have become popular these days. More and more Montessori schools are opening to accommodate the demand of more students wanting Montessori education. Curious parents often wonder what it’s like and how different it is from the traditional schools we are used to.

What Does Montessori Education Mean

What does Montessori education mean? Montessori education is a non-traditional, scientific approach to education that focuses on the child’s independence, freedom within limits and structure, and profound respect for the child’s natural social, physical, and psychological development.

It is an educational practice and philosophy that supports self-directed growth in all areas of development. The goal of Montessori education is to nurture the individual child’s innate desire and curiosity for understanding, respect, and knowledge. Let’s dig in.

Basis of Montessori Education

The Montessori method of education is based on three key elements.

Self-Directed Activities

Children are allowed to choose the activities they like to learn from. This is based on the Montessori belief that children process better, absorb new information faster, and retain knowledge when they are interested in what they are doing.

Hands-On Learning

Instead of sitting at a desk and learning from textbooks, the Montessori method uses experiencing learning to teach students. It has been proven that when children experience learning through activities instead of reading it in textbooks, they have a deeper understanding and retain the knowledge better.

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    Collaborative Play

    In Montessori, children are encouraged to cooperate and collaborate with fellow students of different ages and with their teachers. There is no competition. This, no examinations, no grading system.

    Montessori Educational Levels

    Like traditional education, Montessori schools have different educational levels as well. The difference is, in Montessori, the age of the child is not considered a key factor. Every child is assessed regularly. Unlike traditional schools where children are grouped in age levels, Montessori classrooms are multi-aged. Each classroom is designed to address each child’s needs regardless of age.

    • Infant/Toddler – from birth to 3 years old
    • Primary- from 3 to 6 years old
    • Elementary – from 6 to 12 years old
    • Adolescence – from 12 to 15 years old

    The 8 Guiding Principles of Montessori Education

    The guiding principles of Montessori education are based on over a hundred years of research and work on children all over the world. These principles are applied to all age levels.

    Independence

    Children have a natural urge to seek independence from birth onwards. This is stronger in children than in adults. It is this desire for independence that Montessori education nurtures through social, intellectual, and practical experiences.

    Freedom of Choice

    Montessori education firmly believes that when children are given freedom of choice within a reasonable limit, they get optimum learning. Children flourish better when they are allowed freedom within structure and order. In the Montessori classroom, students are given a clear set of expectations so they can experience the logical consequences of their choices. In short, the classroom mimics society in general so children can mirror behaviors expected in society as well.

    Respect

    In the Montessori setting, children are regarded with respect and are expected to respect others and the objects in their environment. Children are recognized as separate and unique individuals who have their own unique ways of achieving progress.

    Imagination

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    A child’s imagination is an asset. It is the building block for knowledge, innovation, and self-expression. This is the reason Montessori classrooms are well-planned and designed to foster imagination and creativity. The classrooms provide a myriad of open-ended activities so children can explore new ideas, and foster new relationships, and discoveries.

    Prepared Environment

    Students need to change as they learn, progress and go through different levels of development. The Montessori classroom is prepared, planned, and changed to answer to each student’s ever-changing needs. The classroom environment is prepared to allow maximum cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development.

    Discovery

    Unlike in traditional schools where children are spoon-fed information through textbooks, Montessori students are given the freedom to discover new information themselves. They are allowed to explore, question, and seek answers to their questions. Through discovery, children get a deeper understanding, foster a love for learning, and develop good problem-solving skills.

    Hands-On Learning

    The Montessori classroom is an interactive environment. Experiential learning is a way of life in Montessori education. It is not encouraged, it is a must. Through hands-on learning, students learn naturally.

    Montessori-Trained Adult

    The highly-trained Montessori teachers are the link between the carefully curated environment and the students. The success of the Montessori method will not happen without the teachers who guide, observe, and strategize learning programs.

    How Is It Different From Traditional Education

    Montessori education is distinct from traditional education because it does not focus on academics alone. Montessori classrooms focus on the child as a whole, not their test results and grades.

    Children in Montessori are grouped in multi-age classrooms, not in same-age classrooms like traditional schools.

    The Montessori curriculum and programs vary for each child as opposed to a predetermined, per-age-level curriculum in traditional schools.

    FAQs

    Do Montessori schools teach academics? Yes. Academics at integrated into the natural environment of the classroom. Academics are taught in a more hands-on approach, in a more experiential learning process not through textbooks and exams.

    How do I choose the right Montessori school for my child? Montessori schools follow the same concept and method of teaching but different schools have different distinct personalities. The only way you will know if a school is the right fit for your child is through research and observation. Talk, visit and explore different Montessori schools.

    Are Montessori students happier? Because they learn based on their interest, Montessori students are happier, calmer, and do better in school and society. With less stress and more focus on exploration and play, children are happier in Montessori schools.

    Summary

    To summarize, Montessori education is a non-traditional, scientific approach to education that focuses on the child’s independence, freedom within limits and structure, and profound respect for the child’s natural social, physical, and psychological development. It is an educational practice and philosophy that supports self-directed growth in all areas of development. The goal of Montessori education is to nurture the individual child’s innate desire and curiosity for understanding, respect, and knowledge.

    Montessori education was designed to help children develop and achieve their full potential. It is up to you, the parents to decide if Montessori school is the best choice for your child. Given all the information you need, it should not be a hard decision.