How is a Montessori school different from a traditional school?

Montessori education is not completely different from traditional education. The content is generally the same; it's mainly the teaching methods that are different. The main objective of Montessori method is to help children become self-reliant, self-confident individuals. Maria Montessori developed the Montessori Method after spending decades observing young children and seeing for herself what they needed to learn and thrive. Using the Montessori method at school enables pupils to progress at their own pace and develop a spirit of initiative.

What is a Montessori school?

A Montessori school is a school that uses the teaching method created by Maria Montessori. This method is based on respect for the child and his or her developmental potential. Montessori schools focus on the individuality and needs of each child. They offer an environment specially designed to encourage independent learning and stimulate children's curiosity.

Using the Montessori Method at school

The beauty of the Montessori method lies in the fact that it is based on the child's ability to learn, rather than on the adult's ability to teach. In a traditional school, the emphasis is on learning through reading, writing and arithmetic. Pupils are divided into groups according to age, and are expected to follow a specific curriculum. The Montessori method, on the other hand, emphasizes learning through experience and the senses. Students work at their own pace and are encouraged to learn for themselves. Children who attend a Montessori school benefit from a prepared environment designed to help them learn.

toy mathematics montessori

Students work with tools and materials specially designed to develop their skills.

  • Montessori children are encouraged to move around instead of sitting at their desks.
  • Instead of ringing a bell every half-hour and interrupting the flow of activities, children at a Montessori school enjoy uninterrupted 3-hour work cycles. Nor is there any time limit for completing activities.
  • Montessori children are encouraged to choose for themselves what they want to do in the classroom. There are general ground rules, known as freedom within limits.
  • Montessori classes are made up of children of different ages, so that younger children can learn from older ones.
  • Life skills are taught from an early age in Montessori schools. This includes taking care of oneself and the environment.
  • A child's success in a Montessori school is achieved intrinsically, by mastering skills, not by grades.
  • The teacher's role in a Montessori classroom is to help each child individually, rather than taking charge of the whole class at once.
  • The Montessori method follows the child's interests in learning a specific skill, rather than following a program.
  • Montessori education aims to educate the whole child, focusing on mind, body and soul.

The teacher's role in a Montessori classroom

An essential aspect of Montessori teacher training is learning to systematically observe when a child reveals a particularly strong interest in a subject. Teachers observe the child's mood as well as his or her degree of independence, autonomy, discipline and concentration. In addition to their observation notes, teachers keep a log of the lessons presented to each child, and record the following elements of the children's progress.

montessori method classroom 1

Montessori teachers act as guides, carefully observing students to skillfully present the materials needed for learning. Montessori classrooms are filled with extraordinarily well-ordered materials. A large part of a Montessori teacher's job is to prepare and organize the materials needed to learn skills. The teacher spends a considerable amount of time gathering, creating and modifying these materials and, in general, maintaining a classroom environment conducive to discovery.

These principles are implemented through activities specially designed to foster children's physical, intellectual and emotional development. The Montessori teacher adopts key behaviors to implement this pedagogy:

  • Putting the child at the center of learning.
  • Encourage children to learn by giving them freedom.
  • Observe children to recognize sensitive periods and prepare the best possible environment.
  • The activities on offer are varied and enable children to explore different areas, such as the arts, music, mathematics and languages.
  • Teachers ensure that each activity is adapted to the level of each child, so that they can progress at their own pace.

What are the differences between traditional learning methods and the Montessori Method?

There are many differences, including :

  • Montessori programs operate on three-year cycles. Children stay in the same classroom with the same teacher for three years.
  • Montessori classes welcome children of different ages. Multi-age classes encourage collaborative learning and enable broad emotional and social development.
  • Children acquire and assimilate knowledge at their own pace. Montessori students work according to their level of development rather than their age.
  • The Montessori teacher's main role is not to impart information, but rather to foster development and guide the activities, resources and materials that enable the child to move on to the next stage of learning.
  • Montessori students are always free to move around the classroom instead of staying at their desks. There's no limit to how long a child can work on a lesson, and lessons are taught to one student or a small group of students.
  • Visit Montessori teaching materials is unique. Most were developed by Dr. Montessori to meet the specific developmental needs of children of different ages.

Montessori teacher training

The Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) is the leading training organization for Montessori teachers. In France, the Institut Supérieur Maria Montessori (ISMM) is the only training center officially recognized by AMI. Through their training, Montessori teachers learn the principles of child development and the Montessori philosophy, as well as the specific use of teaching materials.

Teachers learn about the sensitivities of each age group and develop working methods that foster a caring learning environment. Because respect for children and a willingness to encourage children to grow in a non-competitive environment are essential, Montessori teachers learn to be positive, gentle and encouraging in their interactions with children.

Younger children learn by observing older children. At the same time, older children reinforce and stimulate their knowledge by sharing it with younger ones. Children easily learn to respect others, and at the same time develop respect for their own individuality.

montessori classroom

This interaction between children of different ages offers many opportunities to create community and foster the development of self-esteem. It also encourages positive social interaction and cooperative learning.

What is the Montessori classroom learning program?

The learning program offers children 5 areas of Montessori education learning areas: practical life, sensory, mathematics, language and culture. Each learning area consists of a set of Montessori materials, each of which teaches an area of knowledge or a fundamental skill. Through repetition and practice, children acquire a thorough understanding of each material and master the basic skills in each area of the program.

Montessori educators provide instruction for every child. After significant learning, children work with Montessori materials independently to practice, explore and make connections with key learning outcomes. Meanwhile, Montessori teachers stand back, observe how the children learn and record their progress.

Key curriculum areas :

  • Practicalities : independence, social skills and respect for the environment.
  • Sensory : Colors, shapes, textures, weights, dimensions, discrimination and distinction between smells, tastes and sounds.
  • Mathematics : Numbers, quantities, counting, addition, subtraction, decimal system, multiplication and division.
  • Language : Oral language, phonetics, letter formation, sentence structure, vowels and consonants, writing, reading and early literacy.
  • Culture : Geography, botany, zoology, science, history, music and art.

Learning materials in a Montessori school

The realization of each environment prepared Montessori requires the careful preparation of educational materials appropriate to this environment. Visit Montessori learning materials is a set of objects designed to precise specifications. In general, equipment is designed to :

  • Capturing the child's interest
  • Inviting interaction and manipulation
  • Encouraging precise use
  • Improve concentration

What is the three-year Montessori school program?

Montessori classes are organized around a three-year learning cycle, designed to meet the needs and characteristics of each specific stage in a child's growth. A child has the same teacher and the same class for three years, and each year's lessons build on the previous year's work. In general, it is not in the child's best interest to enter the three-year program in the last of these three years.

Are children allowed to pretend in a Montessori classroom?

In her first children's home, Maria Montessori offered several types of games in addition to teaching materials, but she realized that children had no interest in pretending when they were allowed to do real things. In Montessori classes, for example, children are given the opportunity to help in the kitchen instead of pretending. She developed her method by emphasizing activities that children enjoyed doing, to the detriment of activities they ignored.

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