Montessori education is a proven approach that has gained significant recognition worldwide. With over 4,000 certified Montessori schools in the United States and approximately 7,000 worldwide, it is evident that this educational method is making a remarkable impact.
Surprisingly, Montessori programs are not limited to private institutions alone. More than 200 public school systems in the U.S. have embraced Montessori programs, offering access to a broader range of students. The success of Montessori education is supported by compelling statistics.
Montessori students consistently outperform their peers, achieving a 15% to 24% higher performance in ELA (English Language Arts), an 8% to 30% advantage in math, and a remarkable 14% to 27% lead in science. These statistics highlight the effectiveness and superiority of Montessori education in fostering academic excellence.
What is a Montessori school? A Montessori school is a non-traditional school that offers a child-centered environment. Montessori schools use the Montessori method of teaching here children are given the freedom to follow their interests and pursue learning through hands-on activities and collaborative play at their own pace. A Montessori school fosters self-motivated growth in all areas of development of a child including cognitive, social, emotional, and physical.
The Hallmarks of Montessori Education
Some of the hallmarks of Montessori education are the following:
The Prepared Environment
The prepared environment of Montessori education is set in the Montessori classroom and outdoor spaces where children get maximum exposure to learning materials and experiences.
The Montessori classroom does not have desks and chairs, it has various activity stations for all Montessori key areas of study instead.
- Sensorial Play – this area is equipped with toys, tools, and learning materials that will sharpen all the senses – sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch, balance, and body awareness. Sensorial play prepares young children for complex subjects like math, sciences, and language.
- Mathematics – the math area uses concrete, hands-on learning materials that will make math easy, simple, and fun to learn. Sample math materials are number tiles, beads, and other math games.
- Language – Montessori students work through various hands-on and tactile learning materials that will improve their language skills including oral skills, reading, writing, etc.
- Practical Life – practical life learning areas provide opportunities to develop practical life skills like cooking, cleaning, gardening, and positive character traits like confidence, respect, and many others. Practical life skills prepare students to navigate the real world and become good members of society.
- Cultural Study – cultural studies cover many subjects including different branches of science, civics, music, art, history, humanities, etc. This area is rotated many times during the school year to cover all topics and provide variety.
Children in a Montessori classroom stay together as a unit for three years along with their teacher. They form a small community that they can call their own. The Montessori classroom provides a nurturing, accepting, and supportive environment where children thrive, develop and be confident in themselves.
The Montessori Materials
Montessori materials include child-size furniture, tools and equipment, toys, arts and decor, learning materials, and almost everything else inside the classroom.
All Montessori materials have a purpose and help facilitate learning. Here are some of the characteristics of effective Montessori materials.
- They are multi-sensory to improve the senses and intellect
- Most are sequential and self-correcting
- Montessori materials promote social interaction and stimulate learning
- Builds from concrete and sensorial to abstract learning
Montessori materials are made from natural materials, mostly wood. They are safe, durable, and offer different tactile experiences. Metal is also a popular material second to wood.
Focus on the Overall Development of Children
Montessori schools give as much importance to practical life skills as academics for the child’s overall development.
Montessori offers rigorous but fun academic and practical life programs.
Montessori believes that for children to succeed in life, they need to learn academics, practical life skills, and positive character traits. A well-balanced child is a happy and smart child.
The Montessori Teacher
Montessori teachers do not sit and teach the class as a whole. They provide one-on-one interaction. Children in Montessori get attention and build a strong rapport with their teachers.
Montessori teachers are highly-trained generalists who can teach all subjects. They are equipped to handle all kinds of behaviors and learning styles.
Montessori teachers are expert observers that can recognize sensitive periods and learning opportunities.
What Makes Montessori Special
Montessori stands out from the rest of the schools in the country because it does not conform to the traditional method of teaching. Montessori education is all about the children and their overall development.
While most schools expect their students to learn a specific set of subjects at a predetermined time, Montessori focuses on each child, their developmental needs, and their learning style and pace.
Montessori students are respected as unique individuals and are not pressured to learn the same way at the same time as their peers.
Are Montessori schools accessible to everyone? Montessori schools may not be as accessible to all families compared to traditional schools. Although they are growing in numbers, there are not enough Montessori schools, especially Montessori high schools. Montessori education is also costly. Low-income families may have a hard time paying for the high tuition.
Are Montessori schools public or private? Most Montessori schools are privately-owned but there are public Montessori schools too. Public Montessori, public schools that use the Montessori Method, and Montessori schools that are publicly funded are few compared to the thousands of private Montessori schools.
Do Montessori teachers have a license to teach? Yes, Montessori teachers have a license to teach. They are required to undergo Montessori training and accreditation before they can start teaching. Montessori schools also need to be accredited and pass strict educational and safety requirements.
Do Montessori schools accept infants and toddlers? Most Montessori schools accept students starting at age 3. There are Montessori schools that accept children younger than 3 but they are very rare to find. There are even some that accept infants but these schools are hard to find.
Montessori school is a non-traditional school that offers a child-centered environment. Montessori schools use the Montessori method of teaching here children are given the freedom to follow their interests and pursue learning through hands-on activities and collaborative play at their own pace. A Montessori school fosters self-motivated growth in all areas of development of a child including cognitive, social, emotional, and physical.