The Montessori Method

The basic idea in the Montessori philosophy of education is that every child carries, unseen within him, the man he will become. In order to develop his physical, intellectual and spiritual powers to the fullest, he must have freedom – a freedom to be achieved through order and self-discipline. The world of the child, says Montessori educators, is full of sights and sounds which at first appear chaotic. From this chaos children must gradually create order, and learn to distinguish among the impressions that assail his senses, slowly but surely gaining mastery of himself and his environment.

Dr. Maria Montessori developed what she called the “prepared environment” which already possesses a certain order and disposes the child at his own speed, according to his own capacities and in a non-competitive atmosphere. “Never let a child risk failure until he has a reasonable chance of success.” This is what Dr. Montessori said understanding the necessity for the acquisition of a basic skill before its use in a competitive learning situation. The years between three and six are the years that a child most easily learns the rules of human behavior. These years can be constructively devoted to “civilizing” the child, freeing him through the acquisition of good manners and habits, to take his place in his culture.

The child who has had the benefit of a Montessori environment is freer at a later age to devote himself more exclusively to the development of his intellectual faculties. The method by which children are taught in the Montessori school might well be called “structured learning”. Since the child has learned to work by himself, in the prepared environment, enjoying the presence of other children, but not working necessarily directly with them, the Montessori teacher is able to observe a child individually. The structure of Montessori learning involves the use of many materials with which the child may work individually. At every step of his learning, the teaching material is designed to test his understanding and to correct his errors.

Dr. Montessori has recognized that the only valid impulse to learning is the self-motivation of the child. Children move themselves toward learning. The teacher prepares the environment, directs the activity, functions as the authority, offers the child stimulation, but it is the child who learns, who is motivated through work itself (not solely by the teacher’s personality) to persist in a given task. If the Montessori child is free to learn, it is because he has acquired from his exposure to both physical and mental order, and” inner discipline.” This is the core of Dr. Montessori’s philosophy. Social adjustment, though it is a necessary condition for learning in a school room, it is not the purpose of education. Patterns of concentration, “stick-to-it-iveness”, and thoroughness, established in early childhood, produce a confident, competent learner in later years. Schools have existed historically to teach children to observe, to think, to judge. Montessori introduces children to the joys of learning at an early age and provides a framework in which intellectual and social disciplines go hand in hand.

The Twelve Points of the Montessori Method

  1. It is based on years of patient observation of child nature by the greatest educational genius since Froebel.
     
  2. It has proved itself of universal application. Within a single generation it has been tried with complete success with children of almost every civilized nation. Race, color, climate, nationality, social rank, type of civilization – all these make no difference to its successful application.
     
  3. It has revealed the small child as a lover of work, intellectual work, spontaneously chosen and carried out with profound joy.
     
  4. It is based on the child’s imperious need to learn by doing. At each stage in the child’s mental growth, corresponding occupations are provided by means of which he develops his faculties.
     
  5. While it offers the child a maximum of spontaneity, it never-the-less enables him to teach the same, or even higher level of scholastic attainment as under the traditional systems.
     
  6. Though it does away with the necessity of coercion by means of rewards and punishments, it achieves a higher discipline than former systems. It is an active discipline which originates within the child and is not imposed from without.
     
  7. It is based on a profound respect for the child’s personality and removes from him the preponderating influence of the adult, thus leaving him room to grow in biological independence. Hence the child is allowed a large measure of liberty (not license) which forms the basis of real discipline.
     
  8. It enables the teacher to deal with each child individually in each subject and thus guide him according to his individual requirements.
     
  9. Each child works at his own pace. Hence the quick child is not held back by the slow, nor is the latter, in trying to keep up with the former, obliged to flounder along hopelessly out of his depth. Each stone in the mental edifice is “well and truly laid” before the next is added.
     
  10. It does away with the competitive spirit and its train of baneful results. More than this, at every turn it presents endless opportunities among the children for mutual help – which is joyfully given and gratefully received.
     
  11. Since the child works from his own free choice, without competition and coercion, he is freed from danger of overstrain, feelings of inferiority, and other experiences which are apt to be the unconscious cause of profound mental disturbances in later life.
     
  12. Finally, the Montessori Method develops the whole personality of the child, not merely his intellectual faculties but his powers of deliberation, initiative and independent choice, with their emotional complements. By living as a free member of a real social community, the child is trained in those fundamental social qualities which form the basis for good citizenship.
     

 A COMPARISON OF CONVENTIONAL & MONTESSORI EDUCATION

Conventional

Montessori

Late start at school (5-6 years old).

Early start at school (2-3 years).

One age per class.

3 year age range per class.

Seated at desks.

Freedom to move about.

Little socialization.

Community atmosphere.

Large group lessons.

Individual lessons.

Teacher as source of answers.

Self correcting materials.

Rewards and punishments.

Natural, logical consequences.

Adult centered schedule.

Child centered schedule.

Frequent interruptions.

Longer free work periods.

Limited curriculum.

Enhanced curriculum.

Peer comparison.

Progress of student as test.

Emphasis on grades.

Emphasis on learning.

Emphasis on conformity.

Emphasis on individuality.

Annual promotion.

Progress at individual rate.

Teacher as disciplinarian.

Emphasis on “self”control.

Corporal punishment.

PEACE in education.

Little parent involvement.

Strong school/home ties.

Graded report cards.

Observations based progress reports.

Serving Each Child’s Individual Development

  • Preschool through Kindergarten

  • Affiliated with the Michigan Montessori Society and members of the American Montessori Society

  • Licensed by the State of Michigan

  • Certified Montessori Teachers with many years of experience teaching in Montessori classrooms

  • Multi-aged classroom carefully balanced to create an effective community of learning

  • Curriculum designed to meet and/or exceed the State of Michigan benchmarks

  • Full Day, Every Day Kindergarten available

  • Weekly Spanish and Science lessons

  • Full Day sessions, Half Day sessions and Before and After school care

  • High expectations for every student

  • LESA specialists available (Speech Therapist, School Psychologist, Social Worker, Occupational Therapist)

  • After school enrichment programs available* (Soccer Shots)

*availability based on enrollment