What is the montessori method?
The Montessori Method describes a method of education based on creating a prepared environment in which children can be free to guide their own learning. The Method was developed by Dr. Maria Montessori, a medical doctor in Italy in the early twentieth century. Dr. Montessori observed children and created the materials and environment to suit their needs at different stages of development.
In a Montessori classroom, all materials are available at child-height so that the children can pursue the activities to which they are naturally drawn. The children have the freedom to move and the freedom to choose their own work. The teacher, or "guide", is there to give lessons when the children ask for lessons. A typical classroom includes Math, Language, Practical Life, and Sensorial shelves. All activities are imparted through concrete learning, which gradually moves to abstract learning as children become older.
Independence is fostered from an early age in a Montessori classroom. The children are given the time to remove their own shoes, hang up their own coats, and prepare their own snacks when they are hungry. The children also take care of the classroom. They water the plants, dust the shelves, wash the tables, and sweep the floors. "Care of self" and "care of the environment" are important pieces of the Montessori classroom.
"Grace and courtesy" and peace were also values held in high esteem by Dr. Montessori. She believed that lasting peace will not be seen in the world until children are treated with respect and in a peaceful manner. Children in a Montessori classroom learn to respect one another's space and boundaries, while being polite and helping one another when needed.
here are some of the things you may see develop in your child during his/her participation in nido (all quotes are from dr. maria montessori):
- An "I can do it" attitude. At nido, all children are given the time and space to express and develop their capabilities. This includes putting on and taking off shoes and outerwear, going to the bathroom, preparing and cleaning up snack, and any other necessary task.
"Never help a child with a task at which (s)he feels (s)he can succeed."
- A propensity to observe and process the environment around them. Children at nido are encouraged to touch, taste, smell, see, and hear in order to experience their world. All information is transmitted through concrete activities using as many of the senses as possible.
"We cannot create observers by saying 'observe', but by giving them the power and the means for this observation and these means are procured through education of the senses."
- Independent drive. You will notice that your child begins to engage themselves in productive activity independently of you. While your child will always crave interaction with you, he or she may require less input in structuring play.
"The greatest sign of success for a teacher... is to be able to say, 'The children are now working as if I did not exist.'"
- Increased focus and patience. Your child will learn math and reading when the time is right, but before that, he or she must develop the ability to focus on one work and see it through to its completion. At nido, we work on developing the will so that the child can complete his or her chosen work. This is a skill that will be useful no matter what work the child applies it to in the future.
"If education is always to be conceived along the same antiquated lines of a mere transmission of knowledge, there is little to be hoped from it in the bettering of man's future. For what is the use of transmitting knowledge if the individual's total development lags behind?"
- Respect for others. In a Montessori classroom, Grace and Courtesy lessons are taught every day. These are lessons that show children how to respect one another's work, space, and boundaries. We demonstrate speaking in kind and considerate tones and asking politely for help. Children learn that harsh words and angry voices can hurt.
"Establishing lasting peace is the work of education; all politics can do is keep us out of war."
Here are additional resources that you may find helpful:
Montessori Learning Outcomes, from White Bear Montessori School
Research on Montessori and Student Outcomes, from the National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector
Grit: Perseverance and Passion for Long-Term Goals, by Angela Duckworth and Christopher Peterson
Grit Trumps Talent and IQ: a Story Every Parent (and Educator) Should Read, from National Geographic
For further reading, here is a link to our Montessori Learning Outcomes.
In a Montessori classroom, the children's activities are referred to as "work". It is understood that it is through work that humans find fulfillment. Dr. Montessori found that when children were allowed the time and freedom to work with concentration on an activity that suited their developmental needs, they were content and refreshed.
We believe the same is true for adults.
As parents, so much of our day is wrapped up in taking care of our children that we might neglect doing the activities that leave us content and refreshed. Of course, sometimes taking care of our children can be just the thing that leaves us with that feeling of contentedness, but it is often the case that, as adults, we need to engage with the world in another way in order to reach that feeling.
We hope that at nido, you can find the space and freedom to work on your chosen work, while your children are given the same space and freedom to work on theirs.