A 'Quick Draw' presentation from a Montessori parent about why he believes a Montessori education is the best way to teach children the love of learning.
FAQ's about Montessori
How can children learn if they're free to do whatever they want?
Dr. Montessori observed that children are more motivated to learn when working on something of their own choosing. A Montessori student may choose his focus of learning on any given day, but his decision is limited by the materials and activities—in each area of the curriculum—that his teacher has prepared and presented to him.
Beginning at the elementary level, students typically set learning goals and create personal work plans under their teacher’s guidance.
Are Montessori schools all work and no play?
Dr. Montessori realized that children’s play is their work—their effort to master their own bodies and environment—and out of respect she used the term “work” to describe all their classroom activities. Montessori students work hard, but they don’t experience it as drudgery; rather, it’s an expression of their natural curiosity and desire to learn.
If children work at their own pace, don't they fall behind?
Although students are free to work at their own pace, they’re not entirely on their own. Each Montessori teacher closely observes each child and provides materials and activities that advance learning by building on skills and knowledge. This gentle guidance helps a student master the challenge at hand. This helps children from being pushed to the next level before ready, which is what causes children to “fall behind.”
Do Montessori teachers follow a curriculum?
Montessori schools teach the same basic skills as traditional schools, and offer a rigorous academic program. Most of the subject areas are familiar—such as math, science, history, geography, and language—and the core subjects are presented through an integrated approach that brings separate strands of the curriculum together.
While studying a map of Africa, for example, students may explore the art, history, and inventions of several African nations. This may lead them to examine ancient Egypt, including hieroglyphs and their place in the history of writing. The study of the pyramids, additionally, is a natural bridge to geometry.
This approach to curriculum shows the inter-relatedness of all things. It also allows students to become thoroughly immersed in a topic—and to give their curiosity full rein.
Is it true that Montessori students have the same teacher for all subjects rather than work with “specialists” in different curricular areas?
Montessori teachers are educated as “generalists,” qualified to teach all sections of the curriculum. But many schools choose to also employ specialists in certain subjects, including art, music, foreign language, physical education, and science.
Timeless Teachings in a Changing World
I have seen only Montessori preschools. Are there Montessori schools for older children as well?
Dr. Montessori first developed her educational approach while working with a preschool population. She gradually extended her approach to children and youth of all ages. Today, some Montessori schools provide all levels of learning, from infant & toddler though the secondary (high school) level. Others offer only certain levels.
The benefits of Montessori—the emphasis on independent learning, for example, and the warm, supportive community—continue to be important at each stage of development as children grow into lifelong learners and responsible citizens of the world.
How well do Montessori students do compared to students in non-Montessori schools?
There is a small but growing body of well-designed research comparing Montessori students to those in traditional schools. These suggest that in academic subjects, Montessori students perform as well as or better than their non-Montessori peers.
In one study, for example, children who had attended Montessori schools at the preschool and elementary levels earned higher scores in high school on standardized math and science tests. Another study found that the essays of 12-year-old Montessori students were more creative and used more complex sentence structures than those produced by the non-Montessori group.
The research also shows Montessori students to have greater social and behavioral skills. They demonstrate a greater sense of fairness and justice, for example, and are more likely to choose positive responses for dealing with social dilemmas.
By less stringent measures, too, Montessori students seem to do quite well. Most Montessori schools report that their students are typically accepted into the high schools and colleges of their choice. And many successful grads cite their years at Montessori when reflecting on important influences in their life.
How many students are typically in a Montessori class?
Unlike some private schools, which strive for very small classes, Montessori values the lessons of community when the size of the class is somewhat larger.
Montessori classes for children above the infant & toddler level might include 20–30 students whose ages span 3 years. All members of the community benefit from this set-up. Older students are proud to act as role models; younger ones feel supported and gain confidence about the challenges ahead. Classes for infants & toddlers are smaller, with typically 10–15 children.
A few videos to help you learn a bit more....
"Infant Toddler Montessori: 'Preparation for Life' "- GBMS starts at age two in the Rainbow Room, and this video addresses the toddler years and the importance of the Montessori method in the first years of life.
"How to Choose a Montessori Preschool"- Although this is not our classroom, it is a very good example of a Montessori 3-6 classroom.
"A Peek Inside a Montessori Classroom"- Another good example of a typical Montessori preschool environment. Notice the calm, serene environment with self-directed students, Montessori work and how the children enjoy learning!
"Montessori Education for the Early Childhood Years"- Great explanation of how Montessori materials and concepts develop the love of learning in students from an early age.
"The Montessori Classroom: "The Three Year Cycle""- A great overview of the unique Montessori approach and the importance of our three year cycle.
"Montessori: The Elementary Years"
Learn how the Montessori Elementary years—ages 6 through 12—prepare children intellectually, emotionally, and socially to navigate the next stage of their education.
"Imagine a School: Montessori for Elementary Aged Children" combines scenes from two public and four private Montessori schools to show the effectiveness of this philosophy of education. The video challenges parents to "imagine a school" where education is hands-on, multi-age and takes place in a cooperative community of learners.
Explore what makes a Montessori classroom a nurturing environment for children of all ages. Visit amshq.org/Montessori to learn more.