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What is Montessori Education?

It is an education that makes a child independent, gain concentration, coordination and sets order. It is also inclusive. This means no child is left behind be it whether they have learning disabilities or otherwise. To deny a child an education is against the very tenet of the Montessori philosophy that is respect for the child, following the child through individualised instruction and fostering independence.

Children with learning disabilities are often unable to go to school due to unacceptance. In addition, there is limited understanding within the communities and amongst teachers about their learning needs, which is often fuelled by prejudices and fear. The Montessori teacher understands each child’s strengths and weaknesses and prepares the learning environment with the help of the Montessori materials to maximize the child’s potential through thorough observation and careful planning.

All children can benefit from the structure, order, and curriculum found in the Montessori environment. In Montessori, it is believed that we must discover the key to unlocking the child’s interest in order to develop and increase their concentration. The focus is to serve the individual child and society, their innate characteristics and tendencies, and their developmental planes — rather than demanding he or she to “fit in”.

Why is Montessori different from other education?

The Montessori method views each child as unique individuals, each with an absorbent mind and a sensitive period. In The Absorbent Mind, Maria Montessori wrote, “The most important period of life is not the age of university studies, but the period from birth to the age of six.”

To have an absorbent mind means the child will absorb everything that they see or hear in the environment without putting in any effort. Every child goes through a sensitive period and a Montessori directress must ‘maximise’ this ability to help the child learn and absorb at his or her best potential. For example, if the child is at the stage of sensitive period for language, the directress must ensure an environment rich in language so that the child can absorb it.

Montessori prepares the environment for optimal learning

Montessori classrooms are child-centred! This means all the materials are placed within the reach of the children. Classroom furniture are child sized and pictures are at a child’s eye-level. Everything has a specific place and they are placed in sequence from left to right, from simple to complex. This environment provides a simple discipline to the child. When a child walks into an environment that is prepared, the tendency is that the child will observe and follow through the order once the directress guides them.

Respect for themselves, for others and for the environment forms the basis for all classroom rules. Montessori classroom environments are well organised and are known as the prepared environment. Children are given the freedom of choice to work with material of their choice and interest. Research has shown that freedom of choice within a prepared environment or structured environment leads to better learning outcomes. Children thrive on order and routine and learn best when they have a sense of control and are interested in what they are learning.

Montessori teaches children through multi aged group

In a multi aged group environment, the children have a tendency to imitate each other. The younger will observe the older children and the older children tend to play the role of a ‘protector’ or leader. In a multi aged group environment, children form friendships based on common interest and not just age.

Montessori‘s approach to learning is different

Montessori learning is not just based on visual but in all its senses. In Montessori education, there is the visual (sight), auditory (hear), olfactory (smell), tactile (touch), gustatory (taste), baric (weight), chromatic (sense of colour), stereognostic (tactile and muscular), and thermic (temperature) sense. In Montessori, the emphasis is on concrete rather than abstract learning which is why we believe children must experience ‘hands-on’ learning.

A Montessori directress acts as a guide to children in the environment. The children work independently and not with the teacher ‘teaching’ them all the time. They are motivated by the innate feeling of wanting to do things for themselves. The role of the teacher is to observe and guide the children and to keep a proper record so that the teacher can strategise the best learning outcomes.

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