The Montessori Method is based on 5 guiding principles that were established to assist private kindergarten children in their development. More than an educational philosophy, these principles are the foundation of a child-centered approach to teaching children how to be conscientious, participating members of the class, home, and community.
Respect for Individuals
Respect for the child is foremost in Montessori’s principles. This respect includes including children in creating their individual curriculums, instilling a love of nature, and encouraging every child to act as a responsible and thoughtful human being. By treating children in a respectful manner, the children learn the value of giving and receiving respect in every social interaction.
Feeding the Absorbent Mind
The first 6 years of life are discussed as the phase of the absorbent mind, a time when children are the most eager to seek answers that explain how the world works, how each person fills specific roles, and why it is important to strive for success for the sake of its own contributions in our lives. There are no external motivators such as rewards and punishments. Instead, the Montessori Method works to instill intrinsic motivations that drive them to attain goals that serve as their own rewards.
Sensitive Learning Phases
Sensitive learning periods are specific times when children are more attuned to learning various skill sets such as writing, social interaction, and language. Through constant observation, Montessori teachers identify when children are entering a sensitive period and provide the tools and materials– along with individual encouragement– that make attaining each goal a smoother transition for that child.
The Prepared Environment
The Montessori prepared environment is more than a space built around the perspective of children. It is also a well-designed set of educational workstations that can be used to help children learn many different types of material across physical, mental, emotional, social, and academic lines. A Montessori classroom is known as the children’s house because every aspect is designed to allow children the freedom of choice and movement necessary to make them feel comfortable and empowered.
Self-Paced, Self Teaching
Montessori activities indicate whether the activity has been completed correctly as it happens. This self-correcting aspect means that children are able to proactively complete tasks individually or in groups, leading to self-assured, confident children who are willing to take on new tasks, learn new subjects, and work with quiet respect for their environment, themselves, and others.
Montessori has demonstrated itself to be a successful teaching philosophy. It is based on the observations of the natural order of childhood development and uses carefully chosen activities that are self-correcting, thoroughly engaging, and attractive to inquisitive young minds.