Embracing the Montessori philosophy has really become the norm for many parents today, myself included. With the many educational options around, the Montessori learning method still stands out from the conventional education concept because of its focus on developing a child’s natural hunger and curiosity for learning geared toward holistic development.
It’s not just about excelling academically, but growing at their own pace. Montessori education becomes an enjoyable journey toward attaining holistic development for your little ones. And who wouldn’t want that perspective for our kids?
So, what is the Montessori Philosophy? The entire Montessori method is based on the dogma or philosophy of Italian educator and physician Dr. Maria Montessori who believes that “moving and learning are inseparable.” The Montessori philosophy doesn’t follow a strict curriculum but rather emphasizes the importance of allowing children to learn at their own pace. More so, the use of Montessori learning materials and activities injects fun into the adventure of self-discovery and exploration.
Further, Dr. Maria Montessori deep-dives into the importance of discipline, empathy, independence, and respect, and in allowing freedom within limits to nurture a child’s physical, emotional, social, and mental development. While having good grades gives a child that competitive advantage in school, it is more important to encourage critical thinking, problem-solving, and analytical skills, making hands-on experience extremely pivotal to the learning process.
What are the Five Principles of the Montessori Philosophy?
Did you know that change-makers with the likes of Jeff Bezos of Amazon and Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page apparently got their brilliance and innovative thinking from attending Montessori school?
Thinking out of the box, being independent, and learning by doing are life skills they developed from the Montessori method. Below are the five principles of the Montessori Philosophy:
Respect for the Child
Dr. Maria Montessori believes that education should always be student-led and that curiosity encourages learning. Dr. Maria Montessori discovered this as she began teaching kids with learning disabilities who were considered hopeless but are only exposed to education to prevent them from being a nuisance to society.
Dr. Montessori took this as a challenge and a mission because she realizes that for children to love learning, there must be respect. The Italian educator made sure that her students were at the core of the learning activities and the results amazed her. The outcasts have shown appetite and grit for learning because everyone deserves a Montessori education. The Montessori method understands the importance of respecting the child so they will learn to trust themselves and be more independent and open to learning new things.
The Mind is a Sponge
Dr. Maria Montessori believes in lifelong and continuous learning as according to her, “learning happens all the time.” Children, are in fact, ready to learn and can easily absorb information in their environment. You constantly learn at any given time and age.
Learning would often come in spurts and there is a particular period in the child’s development that shows a remarkable acceleration in learning speed, skills mastery, or absorbing information. Montessori teachers observe these sensitive periods and help boost their student’s learning process by providing them with the right learning tools and materials that fit this stage.
The Montessori classroom sets the stage for learning. The prepared environment is a room or an area that makes learning conducive for children. The room should be well-organized and spacious allowing children to safely roam and explore, plus also have learning materials that are appropriate for different learning levels of children.
There are three critical age groups or stages in childhood development: 2-2.5 years, 2.5-6 years, and 6-12 years.
In the first stage, or that which spans from 2 to 2.5 years, children get to experience sensory awakening. This is also considered a time for exploration. Children get to learn different shapes, textures, colors, and forms with the materials given to them. They experience how it is to decide what tools or materials to use for play and manipulation.
During the 2.5- to 6-year phase, the child learns to deepen their learning and mastery through repetition. This allows children to play around and interact with different learning materials that help nurture and challenge their curious and growing minds. The classroom then is a space not for completing tasks but a haven for self-discovery encouraging creativity and cognitive development.
And then with the 6-12 years age group, the children dip into the fundamentals of abstract learning, communication, reasoning, and creativity.
How Does the Montessori Method Cater to Different Learning Styles?
In a Montessori classroom, teachers understand that every child is unique and learns at their own pace, and has individual learning styles. They also understand that every child has their own way to process information or learning styles, interests, and strengths.
Further, the Montessori method doesn’t believe that there is a one-size-fits-all system for everyone. Instead, the Montessori philosophy helps in creating an environment that allows children to engage and also explore in ways that mesh with the unique learning styles of children.
Children who are categorized as visual learners interpret the world through images or visuals. The Montessori environment provides visual learners an avenue to be creative with the different learning materials that are color-coded and also colorful and interactive illustrations that enhances the overall hands-on and stimulating experience for kids whether it be in a classroom setting or at home.
Auditory learners are children who learn efficiently through sounds. They are the kids who enjoy group discussions, collaborations, and storytelling sessions. They tend to learn more when they receive information through audio channels like when teachers play learning sounds or videos, and music too. Children who learn by listening
For kinesthetic learners, movement and engaging with their bodies is critical to learning. These kids would usually be physically active, adventurous, and spontaneous. The Montessori method stimulates learning by providing interactive toys and learning materials that are textured and inviting enough for kids to explore and manipulate their way to learning new concepts.
Linguists or those who are categorized as reading/writing learners thrive by providing them with reading and writing materials. Storytelling is considered to be a linguist’s superpower allowing them to share and express their emotions and ideas which helps with their communication skills and also boost their self-confidence. They are great at articulating their thought and ideas through writing and are also able to communicate effectively. Providing your little ones with diverse reading and learning materials helps them be better communicators which is a practical life skill.
There are children who flourish the most when they socialize or interact with other people. The Montessori classroom provides an environment conducive to social learning. With the Montessori method, the child learns how to start effective and fun collaborations, practice teamwork, and also social empathy. Learning for this category is achieved with the help of a group or a team because their learning is improved and stimulated this way.
For children who are most effective when learning solo, the Montessori environment provides them with individual reading corners or play areas that allow them to focus more on their tasks to nurture cognitive and emotional growth.
The Montessori method disproves that there is only one path to learning as there really is no one-size-fits-all program for every child, and thus caters to different learning styles. The Montessori philosophy revolves around the idea that learning is supposed to be an individualized, enjoyable, and dynamic process that seeks to empower kids and nurture their love for lifelong learning.
How Does the Montessori Philosophy Promote Independent Learning in Children?
The Montessori approach is very hands-on and involves learning and movement. This philosophy by Dr. Maria Montessori asserts that movement is critical to learning. That is why learning materials that are interactive and can be manipulated are recommended to help stimulate intellectual curiosity and also tactile interaction. Apart from that, the Montessori classroom is also curated to support and stimulate intellectual exploration with different learning materials and tools that help young minds develop.
The Montessori approach isn’t solely focused on academic growth but on the holistic development of children. Dr. Maria Montessori recognizes the importance of nurturing not just cognitive development but also the multifaceted dimensions of a child such as emotional, social, and physical intelligence. The Montessori approach is focused on imparting lifelong learning and developing well-rounded kids who are equipped to handle life’s curveballs and challenges. Sparked by the natural curiosity of the child, the Montessori philosophy encourages independent learning, discovery, and critical thinking toward gaining knowledge in and out of the classroom.
What are the Montessori Learning Materials? The Montessori learning materials are designed to enhance the holistic development of every child that gears toward nurturing physical, emotional, social, and intellectual growth. Below are learning categories and examples of Montessori learning materials:
Practical Life – Learning tools that help enhance hands-on and experiential learning and independence in learning skills include wooden blocks and puzzles, cooking sets, carpenter play tools, dressmaking sets, cleaning tools, plating tools, and tracing sets.
Sensory – These are the sensory learning toys and materials that help nurture and promote self-development, independence, and curiosity of little ones: kinetic sands, tactile sensory bags, sensory balls, playdough, mirror play sets, and musical instruments for kids like drums, xylophones, and shakers.
Language – These Montessori learning tools and toys help promote communication, self-confidence, and learning development: picture books, sand formation trays, word puzzles, flashcards, sandpaper letters, personalized name tracing sets, alphabet and word flipbooks, word building beads, puppet sets, and beginning readers box sets.
Mathematics – Learning numbers and improving critical thinking is easy with these learning toys and materials: an abacus, money playset, number rods, number cards, wood shape matching sets, and math flashcards.
Art and Creativity – These are the learning materials and toys that help enhance a child’s imagination, exploration, self-expression, and creativity, in a Montessori environment: watercolor paint set, stamping set, non-toxic finger paints, oil pastels, colored pencils and paper, modeling clay, and DIY craft kits.
Music – Here are the musical learning toys and materials for enhancing the musical skills and talents of children: interactive music books, musical instruments like drums, shakers, and xylophones, music puzzles, karaoke microphones, music applications, and music flash books.
Social and Emotional Development – The following learning toys and materials help develop healthy emotional expression, empathy, self-awareness, communication, self-confidence, communication, and social abilities of your little ones: journals, dolls, action figures, playdough, building blocks, magnetic tiles, marble runs, pattern cards, memory cards, dress-up clothes, emotion cards, board games, art materials, memory games, and puzzles.
Gross Motor Skills – These are the learning toys and materials that help develop the gross motor or physical skills of kids in the Montessori school: jump rope, balance bike, hula hoops, gymnastics mat, hopping bags, balancing beam, balls, hopping stones, and scooter board.