How Montessori teaching works

More than a century after its conception, Montessori pedagogy is more popular and trendier than ever. Parents, families, educators and teachers the world over are embracing the idea of educating children with respect. Find out why Montessori does it so well, and how you can easily implement it.Montessori education at home.

How Montessori teaching works

Respect-based education is on everyone's lips. But did you know that this idea is based on the teachings of Maria Montessori ? Many of us associate this cult pedagogue with "alternative" schools and perhaps even overpriced baby toys. Yet it's no coincidence that her name is appearing in a growing number of educational guides. Indeed, Montessori pedagogy, in addition to being an excellent teaching aid, is also the cornerstone of many modern educational trends. And for the paradigm shift that, over the last few decades, has profoundly altered our conception of children, education and learning.

Who was Maria Montessori?

Maria Montessori (1870-1952) was an Italian physician, philosopher, anthropologist and educational reformer. After becoming one of the first women to study medicine in Europe, she ran curative education clinics for mentally handicapped children, educational clinics and took over a Roman children's home that provided a home for poor families. It was here that she developed her method of education, applying her experience in curative education to childcare and witnessing changes in character - incredible to her - in the children.

Throughout her life (marked by the Nazi dictatorship and the Second World War), she gave countless international conferences and training courses. Montessori travelled to many schools in Europe, America and India to give children, wherever they were, the chance to be educated. She was deeply touched by the different destinies and more convinced than ever of her method. Her son Mario Montessori traveled with her, helped with the translation and took over and expanded her legacy after her death.

What is the Montessori concept?

Montessori teaching is child-centered. You're no doubt familiar with the famous quote "Help me to do it alone", which aptly describes the central idea of the Montessori approach. However, this educational concept goes far beyond simply promoting autonomy. A respectful and trusting approach to children is an important part of this concept.

In Montessori schools and kindergartens, teachers act as observers, giving children the opportunity to think and move freely. It is assumed that children are programmed to learn independently. Appropriate materials and teaching methods foster their progress. The full quote below illustrates this concept:

Help me do it myself. Show me how. Don't do it for me. I can and want to do it alone. Have the patience to understand my ways. They may take longer, they may take more time because I want to make several attempts. Give me the right to make mistakes and to make an effort, because I can learn from them.

Maria Montessori

The principles of Montessori education

Maria Montessori wrote very detailed books for educators, and her most famous and popular quotations alone fill some of them! Nevertheless, we can summarize a few important characteristics that sometimes differ greatly from other educational concepts and teaching methods.

  • The child and his or her needs are at the center of our concerns.
  • High esteem for children as individuals and for their role in society.
  • Children can make their own age-appropriate decisions.
  • Exchange with children on an equal footing.
  • Attention to adult language, even for babies.
  • Adults are observers.
  • Control lies with the child.
  • Respect for the child's physical, mental and emotional limits.
  • Focus on helping rather than taking over.
  • The shorter and simpler the instructions, the more effective they are.
  • Confidence in the child's abilities.
  • Focus on positive aspects and praise rather than negative criticism.
  • Avoid punishments and focus on natural repercussions.
  • Benevolent limits strengthen children's freedom.

From what age is Montessori education useful?

Maria Montessori was convinced that the first three years of a person's life are the most formative. And that our experiences during this period influence, consciously or unconsciously, our adult lives. That's why it's never too early to apply Montessori thinking to your education.

Even small babies react positively when involved in processes and spoken to with respect and eye contact. The Montessori method Montessori also emphasizes a strong parent-child bond and the satisfaction of the child's needs. Today, there are many interesting and safe Montessori toys for babies.

Advantages of Montessori education

Teaching is intended to provide holistic support for the child's individual development, encompassing all areas of life. That's why the emphasis is on early childhood bonds and positive parent-child relationships. The following characteristics are particularly encouraged by the Montessori approach:

  • Independence
  • Self-esteem
  • Self-confidence
  • Resilience
  • Ability to communicate
  • Personality
  • Logical thinking
  • Inner calm
  • Empathy
  • Conflict management


How can I implement Montessori pedagogy at home?

There are many ways to apply the Montessori philosophy at home and in everyday life. You don't need to completely renovate your child's room. More than minimalist furniture and wooden toys, it's important to review our own perspective on how we perceive our children. The following can help you live Montessori at home.

  • Let your child make decisions adapted to his age. Does he want to wear the blue sneakers or the yellow ones? Strawberries or bananas in his cereal?
  • Set age-appropriate limits The time has come to put on your child's shoes. After this book, it's time to brush your teeth. For older children: at 6 p.m., you'll be home, etc.
  • Stand back in games and everyday situations, and let your child try rather than take charge. The more you observe your child playing freely, getting dressed or reading, the better you'll understand his or her individual abilities and preferences. You'll better understand what your child expects from you.
  • Have confidence in your child's abilities to resolve non-violent conflicts themselves. Often, we intervene quickly or project our feelings onto our children. Maybe our child doesn't mind having his toy taken away? Or maybe he gets it back and the two of them start playing? In any case, we give him the chance to react for himself. Of course, if there's a big age difference, or if they come to blows, it's important to intervene calmly.

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