What is Montessori?
“The goal of early childhood education should be to activate the child’s own natural desire to learn.”
This quote sums up the entire process of Montessori education in the simplest way possible. Montessori is a style of early education in nursery schools. It is a child-centric nursery for kids.
Introduced by Maria Montessori in the early 20th century, an educator and a physician, this nursery education system focuses completely on the natural learning and development process of the child.
A psychological research of 2017 involving 141 students aged between 3 to 6 years showed that 70 children who were enrolled in a Montessori school“fared better on measures of academic achievement, social understanding, and mastery orientation, and they also reported relatively more liking of scholastic tasks” than the other 71 enrolled in other schools.
A child starts learning right from his or her mother’s womb, responding to the natural stimuli originating from the environment around them. Dr. Montessori strongly believed that the child doesn’t need to be taught how to do something. They simply need guidance and direction from adults and that is exactly what the early educator should do. And so, this method of education has since been adopted by a lot of nursery schools across the world. It frees the child from being constantly “told” to perform a certain activity in a certain way and allows the child the liberty to explore the world around them on their own.
“What the hand does, the mind remembers.”
Montessori vs Traditional Education
Now you might think - “Isn’t that what the traditional nursery system also does? How is it different?
The common thing about Montessori and traditional nursery education is that both of them cater to the learning needs and development of the child. But the approach taken by both the methods are poles apart! Here’s how :
As mentioned in the very beginning, the Montessori method is child-centric. The entire process of learning focuses on what the child knows and doesn’t know. The traditional method follows a completely opposite approach and relies on what the teacher knows to teach.
Activities and tools provided to the children in a Montessori are devised to encourage hands-on learning. Kids get to choose their own tools and independently learn from it. The traditional way teaches children traditionally. Passive, lecture-based teaching and learning is followed which allows little room for children to participate in the process of learning.
Montessori style of education does not require a teacher. It only demands the presence of an adult who can supervise and direct the kids, if needed. The children are not in control of the teacher. The only thing that controls them is their own will to learn - socially, mentally and cognitively. However, in a traditional setup the teacher would have controlled what the kids learnt, how they learnt and evaluated them based on predetermined characteristics.
In a Montessori environment children are divided in different batches based on their development and not age. These batches can range between kids of 0-3 years, 3-6 years and this continues till the age of 18. Yes! Montessori style of education is not restricted only to kindergarten or preschool years.
Children are promoted to the next level based on their developmental milestones. But if you go by the traditional way, age is a major determinant of promotion to the next level or grade.
Kids are given the opportunity to learn at their own pace in Montessori. There is no such set syllabus or curriculum that they need to follow in a specific period of time as in the case of the traditional education system.
Key Elements of Montessori Education
These characteristics make Montessori a one-of-its-kind system of nursery education. Here are some of the key elements of it that make it the most distinctive and a top choice among parents while searching a nursery for kids.
A Dedicated Environment
The classroom of a Montessori style nursery school is built and decorated in such a way that the child finds attractive to be in. It is painted with vibrant color schemes and contains a lot of tools and activities which are at an easy-to-reach level for children. These tools, games and activities are age-appropriate and child-friendly.
Guided by Directress, Not Teacher
Children who are independent learners even before they are born, do not require a teacher who would teach them a particular activity. All they need is a person who would direct them throughout their learning process. The “teacher” here takes on the role of a directress in the educational journey of the active learners.
Age Appropriate Educational Materials
Instead of relying on curricular books, children learn from a wide set of educational materials which are designed especially for independent learning. These materials are age appropriate and help in the development of the child’s physical, psychological, mental and cognitive abilities. Once the child has gained maximum learning from a tool, they progress gradually to more complex educational materials.
One directress is in charge of looking after a certain age group or batch of children. This gives children personalised attention and care from just one person creating a sense of security and building a relationship of trust between the child and the directress. The one-to-one interaction helps the directress observe and understand the abilities of every child.
Self Learning for Self Growth
Learning lies in the process and not in the outcome. This is what the Montessori method aims to preach through its approach of child-centric education. All materials and guidance provided to the child is meant to encourage the child to learn independently and chalk out their own path of growth and development.
“Do not tell them how to do it. Show them how to do it and do not say a word. If you tell them, they will watch your lips move. If you show them,they will want to do it themselves.”
We all want our children to become independent, responsible human beings. So why not give them such a nurturing environment from the very beginning? Dr. Montessori dedicated her life to educating herself and others about the importance of early childhood education and built a system that caters solely to the learning needs of the child. With Montessori education, you don’t prepare your child just for higher education. You prepare them for life.
Hope this blog was helpful, if you have any queries, please feel free to reach out to us and we will be more than happy to be of assistance. Happy Parenting.