What exactly is the Montessori method of teaching?
E.C. Montessori School
[Editor's note: Today we introduce Terri Powell one of our latest local columnists. Terri is director of E.C. Montessori School on Lady's Island.]
If you are at a time when you have the unenviable task of choosing a school for your child, it would be wise to look into the Montessori option of schooling. There are so many schools out there, whatever age your child, but the Montessori method is unique. And often people don't completely understand what the method is all about.
The benefits of a Montessori education are numerous. The main goal of Montessori is to provide a stimulating, child-oriented environment that children can explore, touch, and learn without fear. Each child learns at his or her own pace. Teachers are understanding and encouraging, so that the child can enjoy learning, and feel happy about her path and purpose in life. Here are some of the benefits:
- Montessori schools teach independence from an early age. The children take an active part in running their school, like preparing and serving snacks at breaks, and putting learning equipment away after they have used it. Practical tasks like sweeping, polishing, making sandwiches and tying shoe laces, are all available for children to learn on a daily basis.
- Children are not expected to conform to set standards of achievement as in conventional schools. The Montessori method takes account of the needs, talents, gifts, and special individuality of each child. The children learn at their own pace, so they are not being constrained nor criticized for what they do. There is a total freedom to learn which makes the learning fun.
- All children, whatever their abilities or interests, reach their full potential. All children fit in, including children with learning disabilities. Many children learn best in different ways, and the equipment is designed for this. For all subjects there are items of interest to the child, however he learns best. For example, for geography, not only are there books, but globes, map puzzles, pictures, and animal figures (sensory items). There are also regular visits from people, pets, animals, and different activities depending on the topic at the time.
- The equipment available for learning is unique and designed by Maria Montessori. It is exceptionally good quality equipment, which means the children value it and treat it with care.
- In a Montessori environment children are encouraged to respect and help each other. If they choose, they will work with other children, and help each other, or 'teach' each other, and they enjoy doing so. It is wonderful to watch children who really want to help each other.
- The environment of a Montessori school is peaceful and facilitates learning. Because children are happy and learning at their own pace, discipline is not an issue.
- The children that benefit most from a Montessori environment are those whose parents understand the developmental needs of their children and how a Montessori environment can aid in the process of healthy human growth.