A Trained Guide- All Montessori teachers have received specialized training. They hold both a state credential and an AMS (American Montessori Society) or AMI (Association Montessori Internationale) certified Montessori credential, which is similar to earning a Master’s degree. Montessori teachers have a thorough understanding of child development, Montessori practice and philosophy, and the specific use of every material for their age group. Montessori teachers spend less time on direct instruction and more time guiding the students through their own activities and discoveries. They observe children within a specific age range and introduce them to challenging and developmentally appropriate lessons and materials based on observations of each child’s unique interests, abilities, and development (social, emotional, cognitive, and physical). They plan and prepare the purposeful activities within the classroom environment to guide, support and inspire the developmental progress of each student.
Dr. Montessori observed that all children develop social and academic skills at an individual pace; they do not reach developmental benchmarks at the exact same age, but at different points throughout a certain range of ages. For example, all children will not suddenly read when they turn six, but the majority of children will begin reading sometime between the ages of four and seven. Multi-age classrooms allow students to work with others at a similar level of development, not just a similar age. In addition, the multi-age classroom provides mentorship opportunities for students to teach and assist their peers skills that they have already mastered. When teachers work with children for more than one school year, they are better able to get to know the children and their families, form strong bonds, and meet the needs of students in the classroom.
Authentic Montessori Materials
Beautifully crafted and inviting, the Montessori materials are specifically designed for children to have hands-on learning experiences. Each material teaches a single skill or concept and includes a built-in “control of error” for which students can self-monitor their progress and correct mistakes, independent of the teacher. The materials move students gradually from the concrete toward the abstract, until subject mastery is achieved.
Montessori education fosters student agency by providing opportunities for freedom of choice, and freedom of movement. Freedom of choice is when students select their work from within a prescribed range of options. Students can work on different materials/ concepts simultaneously; students have ample opportunities for repetition towards mastery so that each student can progress through the materials at their appropriate pace. Freedom of movement is when students choose to work at tables or on the floor, alone or with friends, according to their individual preferences. Students may move throughout the classroom at will, selecting books and educational materials or meeting their personal needs. As a result, students are empowered, engaged, intrinsically motivated, focused, and are responsible for their self-directed learning. As part of the child-directed work process, students are responsible for planning their own time and work schedules, for gathering and putting away their materials, for assisting with cleaning, helping to care for pets and plants and other chores, for meeting their personal needs, for asking for help, for coping with their emotions in appropriate ways, and for helping their teacher and classmates. Practical life skills are promoted to help children become capable and confident people.
The Montessori classroom is beautiful, tidy, and homey. The materials or “jobs” for each subject are arranged on shelves in a specific manner. They go from left to right, easiest to most challenging, and are meant to entice the child to want to touch and explore them. Jobs are arranged in subject-matter groupings throughout the classroom and are always available to the students. The environment also contains child-sized furniture, artwork, live plants, and often pets as well. Classrooms are very thoughtfully organized; they are both stimulating and enriching
Uninterrupted Work Periods
The uninterrupted work period honors the diversity of learners in the learning process. Students are provided an extended period of time, ranging from an hour to two hours, to work through various tasks and responsibilities at their own pace. During the work period, teachers provide individual and small group lessons based on their observations and other forms of assessments.
Students share communal materials and work collaboratively and cooperatively. Families are also encouraged to become a part of this community by assisting in the classroom, leading lessons, or sharing their special skills, culture, or knowledge with the children. Strong family-School partnerships, including parent education and communication, supports the students success.
Peace and Inclusion
Dr. Montessori was an advocate for peace education. Peace education lessons are woven into social studies, social emotional learning, and literacy. Peace education helps students become kind, courageous, and globally-minded citizens. The Montessori environment embraces diversity, equity, and inclusion; and cultivates a welcoming and belonging environment for all students.
Montessori education is an instructional method based on the philosophy and pedagogy of Dr. Maria Montessori (1870-1952). As a medically trained physician, she was tasked by the Italian government to educate young children with special needs. Maria Montessori established her first school, Casa dei Bambini in 1907; located in an urban renewal project area of San Lorenzo, Rome, Italy. Through her observations and work with the children, she created the Montessori materials in which she observed them working and learning independently and effortlessly.
The Montessori method has been successfully utilized in schools across the globe, and within the US for over one hundred years–with the first American Montessori school opened in 1911 in Scarborough, New York. The Montessori method is a highly effective approach to educate students because it is based on evidence gathered from child observation to guide instruction and aligns with the natural development of the child. Classrooms feature a hands-on learning style which helps make concepts concrete.