A private preschool has traits that are not as common in traditional public school settings– if they can be found there at all. Montessori doesn’t have rows of generic desks, for example, nor does a Montessori teacher spend the day offering cookie-cutter lectures or forcing children to keep up or get left out. To show you how Montessori stands apart, let’s take a look at 4 qualities that differentiate a Montessori learning environment.
- The Prepared Environment
The Montessori preschool prepared environment is a carefully structured classroom where everything is laid out to encourage children to explore and learn. It provides children with freedom of movement, with workstations that are designed to attract a child’s interest and help her focus and perform to her maximum potential. Maria Montessori recognized that children learn best in an ordered and accessible setting, and the prepared environment is a major step in that direction.
- Individualized Instruction
Instead of the whole class following the same instruction plan, the activities and progress of every child is carefully monitored, and the child is guided toward appropriate activities. Hallmarks of individualized instruction include longer work periods, the three-year multi-aged groupings, and children who remain in the same class with the same teachers instead of shuffling from place to place throughout the day.
- Teacher Training and Tenure
Montessori teachers undergo special training in childcare. They use observational techniques and positive reinforcement that is not bounded by artificial rewards and punishments. And since children remain in the same class for several years, teacher tenure becomes important, providing familiarity and routine to the students. Unlike traditional public schools, Montessori teachers tend to remain at the same school for many years, becoming one of many stable aspects that children can depend on.
- The Children’s House
Montessori classrooms are modeled after Maria Montessori’s original Casa Dei Bambini, or Children’s House. All features of the room are arranged for the perspective of the children, including child-sized furniture and decorations placed at a child’s eye level. The underlying concept is to help children feel more comfortable in their learning environment by designing the area around children instead of forcing them to adapt to a setting built for adults.
There are other traits that define a Montessori school, including having more contact with nature, play-based learning, self-directed work, and activities designed to encourage their use and impart educational value in multiple ways. However, keep in mind that Montessori is not a trademarked name, and make sure that the school you choose is duly certified as an authentic Montessori preschool.