First Day of School is August 19
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The longevity of the Montessori method, the brain-based research that supports it, the world-changing achievements of the Montessori Mafia, and the amazing success and happiness of our own Arbor grads all show: Montessori really works. It’s real-world learning that prepares children remarkably well to flourish wherever they go.
But how does it work? Where’s the structure? Where are the grades? And why are those kids washing tables when they should be learning? We certainly respect the inquisitive mind of a parent who wants a more concrete understanding of this very different way of teaching and learning.
Let’s deconstruct the Montessori classroom and method – what you see, and what you don’t see. Each classroom is different, designed for the specific stage of a child’s development, and built upon the previous classroom. We’ll focus on the Primary Classroom to keep it simple.
Maria Montessori’s observations of children led her to compare the young mind to a sponge; this is most often seen by the way a child picks up her native language. Dr. Montessori reasoned that a classroom which tapped this characteristic would invite children to read, write and calculate as naturally as they learn to walk and talk. The materials in a Montessori classroom beckon the child to use his senses to discover the world. The room is designed to allow children to have control over their environment: materials are arranged on low shelves within reach, tables and chairs are child-sized and moveable, and work is done on mats on the floor, where children are most comfortable. The materials allow the child to focus his concentration and reinforce his learning through using his hands.
Dr. Montessori didn’t associate a disciplined child with his or her ability to be silent and immobile. Self-discipline happens when a child is absorbed in her work, especially when that work is purposeful and the child can see direct relevance to her environment. The used of materials involves movement and touching; however, all activity in the classroom is guided by the principles of respect for the teacher, the work of others, and the materials themselves. The beauty and order of the materials help to remind the child to return them to their place neatly and carefully. They are designed to meet the specific needs of each age and are inviting but not over-stimulating. The child has the opportunity to choose from a variety of sequentially-designed materials with the child himself as the main guide. The guide or director observes the children and is trained to see signs of readiness for the next lesson. The mixed age environment permits younger children a varied picture of what is to come, and the older children reinforce their own knowledge by helping the younger ones. Mixing ages also accommodates the many different levels of ability and paces of the children in each level. The guiding principle for guides in all levels of Montessori is this: instead of pouring information into a child, he or she draws out that which is already there.
Montessori learning: Move. Touch. Manipulate. Explore.
Interdisciplinary -- No subject taught in isolation