The Montessori Method: Self-direction, hands-on learning, and collaborative play. This style of education was developed by the Italian physician, educator, and visionary Maria Montessori in the early 1900’s. Today, her methods have been successfully implemented both in schools and in the home across the globe.
Looking to learn more about Montessori or decide if this approach is right for you? You’re in the right place!
Maybe you’ve heard of this method before, or have noticed Montessori centres in your area and wondered what the difference is between this and public education. Perhaps you’ve seen the many toys, activities, and furniture that have been hot on the market in the last few years. But, on the off-chance that you’ve never heard of it at all – You’re still in the right place!
It is my hope that after today you will understand what Montessori is all about! I’ve also included some lists below to help you determine if adopting Montessori teaching is practical for your family.
Why I Love Montessori
Firstly, let me tell you a little about why this method appeals to me personally. As an aspiring elementary teacher and lover of child-first approaches to education, this style of learning piqued my interest. The way that this approach engages children’s natural curiosity to learn and discover directly aligns with my personal philosophy, too! Actually, this was what initially attracted me to the concept. Now, after doing research on the efficacy of the approach, I also support the method for its ability to teach conflict resolution while empowering young learners to be self-sufficient and confident individuals.
Sounds Great, Right? Let’s dive in to what Montessori actually looks like in school-settings and in the home…
What is Montessori Education?
Dr. Maria Montessori founded this now internationally renowned approach to learning. Though the woman is deserving of an entire article dedicated to her incredible work detailing children’s social, intellectual, physical, and spiritual development, I’ll try not to fan-girl too much over this inspiring visionary…
Ok, but seriously, her work has been so influential that she has been awarded not 1 but 3 Nobel Peace Prize nominations – How incredible is that?!
In Maria’s words…
“My vision of the future is no longer of people taking exams and proceeding on that certification… but of individuals passing from one stage of independence to a higher, by means of their own activity, through their own effort of will, which constitutes the inner evolution of the individual.”
Introduction, From Childhood to Adolescence, The Clio Montessori Series, by Maria Montessori
Basically, this approach to education emphasizes self-led and hands-on learning alongside collaborative play. By offering both individual and group activities, Montessori empowers children to explore their environment in a hands-on way while inspiring them to become confident life-long learners.
The Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) is the overarching body and international institution that Maria established in 1992. AMI is also currently responsible for upholding training and research standards. They also offer an online resource library for anyone wanting to learn more about the method, making this a great starting-point for inquisitive minds!
Also, Montessori Education was created to suit the needs of learners from babies to middle-school aged children. This means that regardless of your child’s developmental stage, you’re sure to find products perfect for their current abilities!
Due to the method’s international success, there are limitless tools available for parents wishing to implement Montessori principles in the home as well.
But how do you know if this approach is right for your little ones?
Is Montessori Right for Your Family?
Many young learners experience great success through this style of education. If the benefits discussed below sound like skills you want your child to develop – I’d suggest you consider implementing these techniques in your own home or look into local Montessori schools near you!
1. Enhances preschooler’s readiness to enter primary education
- Gokhan & Ramazan conducted a study in 2011, titled “Examination of the Effects of the Montessori Method on Preschool Children’s Readiness to Primary Education.” In it, they concluded that the pre-school aged children exposed to Montessori education exhibited higher readiness to enter the next phase of their learning than those who learned in traditional education settings
2. Higher social, language and concentration skills
- In the same study, Gokhan and Ramazan also found that that preschool aged children taught under Montessori maintained a higher capacity for learning of the above skills (2011)
3. Focus: Nourishing healthy relationships while enhancing self-regulation
- This forges stronger and healthier bonds between children and their educators alike while teaching young ones to express themselves and their needs
4. Early exposure to the concepts of peace, compassion and non-violence
- Cheryl Duckworth’s article, “Teaching Peace: A Dialogue on the Montessori Method,” (2006) concluded that exposing young Montessori learners to the concept of peace, compassion, and non-violence was highly beneficial. It actually resulted in them having increased capacity for conflict resolution!
5. Teaches collaboration and empathy at the individual and global level
- Duckworth also mentions the benefits of the Montessori’s emphasis on collaboration and empathy. This not only reduces inner conflict within the child, but increases their ability to resolve problems between peers (2006)
6. Encourages learning about international customs, cultures, and worldviews,
- In this method, children are taught to be sensitive to global diversity and empathetic to differences between cultural groups
7. Individually paced learning
- Traditional classrooms sometimes embody rigid curriculum that does not consider individual needs and learning styles. Montessori seeks to address this by recognizing and accommodating for individual needs
- American Montessori Society’s (AMS) has an excellent article that details this benefit here
- This may also be ideal for you if your child has special needs that are not adequately addressed in a traditional classroom. Maria Montessori had envisioned her philosophy as being inclusive for children of all needs and abilities, which is exemplified by her follow the child approach to learning (whereas traditional schools emphasize a follow the teacher approach)
8. Inspires life-long learning through hands-on exploration
- AMS’s article from above also highlights the positive impact that Montessori’s free-form learning environment offers. Basically, while there is still structure and limitations, children are able to explore learning in a more natural and organic manner. Hands-on learning has also been found to inspire children and adolescents to pursue learning throughout their life-time
On the Other Hand, Montessori May Not Work for You if…
1. The cost is too high
- While the learning materials are quite high-quality and durable, the up-front cost can be quite expensive!
- There are, however, cheaper options on online sites like Montessori Outlet. Amazon also has lots of cheap options too!
- Have a woodworker in your family? Perhaps you could convince them to re-create some Montessori staples from cheaper materials at home!
2. Montessori has been criticized as being inaccessible
- Maria Montessori had strived to create a form of education that is inclusive, diverse, and accessible. Unfortunately, since the core tenants of Montessori education directly contradict the principles enforced in traditional school systems, much of their schools are private (and therefore costly)
- However, as this mode of education becomes more popular, more and more public Montessori programs are popping up – Try looking around your area to see what is available!
3. Some children require (& thrive within) highly structured programs
- Due to its follow the child approach, Montessori programs offer flexibility and looseness in their programming. If your little one needs lots of structure then transition to this method may cause them to feel intimidated or stressed. Always be mindful of your child’s individual needs when considering big changes like this!
- This probably seems contradictory. Didn’t I just say that Montessori programs increase collaboration? Yea, I did! The reason this is also on this list is simple: Because the method favours self-driven learning, children who do not naturally enjoy working in teams may not develop the crucial skill of teamwork and collaboration required to be successful in today’s workforce
- Don’t get me wrong – Independence is also a crucial life-skill. The potential issue I see here is that many careers require employees to directly report to their authoritative body. This could be tough if collaboration isn’t emphasized enough alongside fostering independence while in Montessori programming!
There you have it, folks! I hope this article piqued your interest in Montessori learning. If so, you’ll really enjoy my up-and-coming posts on how to