All About Montessori
Founded in 1907, by Dr. Maria Montessori (1870-1952), Montessori pedagogy educates children for life. Children have the freedom to explore and to develop their potential as they work with didactic materials, either independently or in groups, in a prepared environment. The Montessori method is grounded in the concept of respect - for self, others, and the environment. The Montessori rooms are prepared to meet the developmental needs of the age-span served within the environment. The materials and furniture are designed for the child’s physical needs (size and proportion) and psychological needs (area of interest or skill development). Each prepared environment includes a full range of Montessori materials, a trained Montessori guide, and a trained or highly qualified assistant. The materials are designed to assist growth in practical life, sensorial, mathematics, language arts, music, art, history, geography, and the sciences. The work the child performs with the materials is intended to develop mental and manual dexterity. While working with the materials, the child develops concentration, self-confidence, respect, an understanding of order, and a joy of learning; all in the context of community.
We believe that the child and their needs are the central and commanding focus of the learning process. It is the role of the guides to observe, to know, to inspire, and to advocate for the child as he or she proceeds through the stages of development.
We see in each child the future of our society, of our nation, and of our planet. The child in the process of fundamental development has unlimited possibilities and the future rests on our ability to cultivate and nurture these potentials.
We believe that the learning process is governed by certain basic human tendencies or needs:
The need to communicate, to use language
The tendency for order: the need to organize, classify, and interpret reality
The need for independence and activity; the drive to work constructively and purposefully
The need for social relationships
In a Montessori school, the outdoor environment is considered an extension of the indoor environment. While there is a scheduled time for large motor activities that encourage collaborative group play and allow children to gain an understanding of the rules and movements associated with large motor skills, the space is not only used during recess. The outdoor environment is also a “work space” that can be used during the Montessori work cycle. Throughout the day, and with the accompaniment of an adult, children may work on materials, garden, or simply explore the natural landscape of our outdoor space.
The Montessori guide facilitates activities within the environment while modeling peaceful behavior. The guide is not the center of the learning process. Rather, with respect for each child’s unique nature and ability to make choices for themselves and with the goal of all children reaching their full potential, the guide nurtures academic and social / emotional development by giving key presentations to connect the children with materials to meet their needs and current interests. Individual and group lessons are varied and designed to meet each child’s learning style and pace. The guide observes the children often and plans lessons based on their observations of the needs and interests of an individual or group.
Within the multi-age community, older children often serve as teachers and mentors for the younger children. These children share their experiences by helping others. This process not only helps create a sense of community and interdependence, but also reinforces previous learning for the older children. Self-direction encourages trust, acceptance, and non-competitiveness. The materials, the guide, and the community of children come together to assist every child in developing a strong self-image and a sense of self-esteem, which is critical when building a love of learning and of exploration that lasts a lifetime.