If you have often pondered the question of what is montessori education and how it works then you have come to the right place.
Montessori education is an educational method for young children to learn through play and nature.
This educational method was developed by Italian physician Maria Montessori, who found faults in formal and traditional teaching methods.
As she was under immense pressure to compete against male colleagues to succeed, she formulated this teaching method out of pure passion.
Nowadays, there are around 20,000 Montessori schools around the world to continue Maria’s passion and studies about the best ways for children to learn.
Her success paved the way for parents and educators to allow their children to be independent learners and has since become a preferred teaching method for those not following formal teaching methods.
If you’re considering taking your child to a Montessori school or if you want to apply some methods within your classroom or home, you might be wondering “What is Montessori education?”.
Here is our guide on Montessori education!
What Is Montessori Education?
To put it simply, Montessori education is a teaching technique that encourages young children to learn through independent exploration, play, and nature.
The structure of Montessori education is almost the complete opposite of formal teaching practices, wherein the class is led by a teacher and children follow the rules.
Rather than having a teacher (and therefore a curriculum and series of systems behind them) leading a class, Montessori schools encourage children to lead the class themselves.
This method is designed to develop independence, confidence, social skills, self-esteem, and a self-driven interest in learning.
The whole point of Montessori teaching is for children to figure out the answers to their own questions through experimenting with games and toys.
Instead of driving the class through a structure, Montessori teachers simply guide children through any tough parts of their education and will typically intervene when a lesson needs to be learned – such as sharing toys with other students.
While this might sound like a recipe for disaster, kids aren’t encouraged to run wild for an entire day. Instead, they follow some rules set by teachers and only play with specific Montessori materials such as toys and resources.
Montessori schools are typically only for toddlers and young children. This is because children are said to be in their prime learning time from the moment they are born to when they are six years old.
How Is Montessori Education Different From Public Schools?
The key difference between Montessori schools and public schools is that public schools are led by teachers, curriculums, and an abundance of rules and regulations.
While such structures are designed to educate children in a safe and somewhat fair environment, Montessori education schools disagree with the idea of structure.
Instead, the only structure found in Montessori classrooms is through guided activities. Most Montessori classrooms are split into sections to symbolize different subjects in the same room. This is unlike a regular public school classroom, where children sit in the same seats at the same desks for every subject.
Encouraging children to move to different parts of the classroom helps them to understand the intention of particular activities – for example, one part of the classroom can consist of mathematical Montessori games, while another part is filled with books and games to teach children basic literacy skills.
There is no set timetable in a Montessori classroom, unlike a public school classroom where lessons follow a strict timetable.
Instead, Montessori kids have the freedom to spend as little or as long as they want on a particular activity. This is to encourage children to create a positive association with learning.
Like public school teaching, Montessori teachers will typically set their own rules according to each class and student. This is to ensure that their students treat each other and every activity with respect and patience.
They are taught to be responsible for their own actions, which is why they have to leave a classroom exactly the way it was before they entered.
What Are The Five Areas Of Montessori Education?
Instead of keeping children in the same seats and desks for every subject during the day, Montessori classrooms are typically split into five areas.
This is so children can associate particular activities with certain subjects, as games and toys are placed in certain areas corresponding to an area of the curriculum.
The five areas consist of a math area, a practical learning area, a language area, a cultural studies area, and a sensory area.
A Montessori math area will include Montessori-approved games and activities that help children to develop basic math skills such as counting, adding, subtracting, grouping, and sequences. The activities will vary in difficulty per each classroom depending on the age group of the kids.
With the aim of spending time developing basic math skills, children are encouraged to correct their own mistakes without fear of doing something wrong in a test or class.
Practical Learning Area
The practical learning area of a Montessori classroom is designed to help kids understand the small physical things outside the classroom – such as tying their shoes, cleaning the floor, practicing manners, and more.
These areas bring in realistic activities, like make-shift cafés, small brooms to encourage cleaning, dining tables to learn how to hold cutlery, and more.
During these activities, teachers will help children understand the importance of manners, such as saying “please” and “thank you”.
Kindness and decency is an invaluable lesson often forgotten about in public schools, which is why these areas are so important.
The language area of a Montessori classroom is designed to teach children about basic literacy skills, such as learning the alphabet, phonics, sounds, and reading.
This is achieved through alphabet games, books, wooden letters to spell words, and writing resources.
Cultural Studies Area
Montessori education encourages children to learn about the world around them through a cultural studies area.
This area teaches children about different cultures, history, geography, science, music, art, and much more. This is a highly diverse area that can hold anything from flags and plants to instruments and art resources.
Not only are these activities fun and work to spark interest in hobbies from a young age, but they’re also designed to improve cognitive and social skills.
It’s also common for the cultural studies area to extend to the outside world, where kids are taken on walks and encouraged to play outside to explore nature.
As the name suggests, a sensory area encourages children to understand the world around them through their senses.
Sensory areas are particularly useful for toddlers and infants to understand how their bodies work, and their likes and dislikes.
These areas also encourage children to explore temperatures, smells, sounds, colors, weights, shapes, textures, and more.
The idea of sensory areas is to heighten a child’s senses to help them understand the world outside the classroom, thus encouraging them to be equally independent in their own homes.
What Type Of Child Is Montessori Good For?
Technically speaking, any child under the age of 6 can be taught in a Montessori education school. Montessori schools are deliberately not exclusive to kids based on age, learning abilities, race, gender, or disabilities.
Children of all learning abilities and levels can benefit from the Montessori teaching method, because it allows them to structure their own learning.
This self-taught structure encourages children to understand themselves from a young age, thus developing self-esteem, self-awareness, confidence, and how to problem-solve independently.
Montessori education is also ideal for children with learning and physical disabilities. Depending on the individual, teachers may have to intervene more than normal, but the classroom remains the same.
All kids learn through moving around the classroom as they wish, interacting with other students, and teaching themselves about how to complete each activity.
As children are encouraged to learn at their own pace, Montessori schools are ideal for all types of children. Even for children who are fast learners, there’s a myriad of activities designed to challenge and test them to further their skills.
At What Age Does Montessori Start?
The Montessori method is designed for all children up to the age of 6 years old. This is because a child’s mind is most absorbent to information and skills within these years.
Of course, newborns can’t exactly go to school, so the minimum age for kids to start at a Montessori school is typically between 2 and a half and 3 years old.
It all depends on the child, because some children might need to start at a Montessori school in later years.
This is because the Montessori method is transferable to home learning, as it encourages parents to follow similar methods to build relationships with their children out of school.
Ideally, parents would implement Montessori educational methods in the first 2 or 3 years of their child’s life, including taking them grocery shopping, cleaning with them, taking them to the park, encouraging them to play with other kids, and cooking with them. Montessori teachers can then fine-tune these skills in their classrooms.
It makes sense why Montessori schools are so popular. Maria Montessori’s work has undoubtedly changed the education system, and the results are proof of that.
If you’ve ever wondered what Montessori education is and you’re considering taking your child to a Montessori school, hopefully this guide has helped you to understand what these schools entail!