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Montessori Education

What is Montessori?
What is Montessori School?
Are children free to do whatever they want?
What are the main differences between Montessori and traditional education?
What is the ideal age for children to begin a Montessori program?
What is the Montessori concept of discipline?
What is the teacher's role in a Montessori classroom?
Why is it so important to keep my five year old in Montessori?

Traditional v. Montessori Approach to Education

Montessori Education

What is Montessori?

Montessori comes from the name of the first Italian woman to become a physician Dr. Maria Montessori, in the early 1900's. Through her observations and work with children, she developed her educational methods based on the development of children's learning processes. She observed children have a natural desire to learn for themselves and, thus, she designed a "prepared environment" in which children could freely choose from developmentally appropriate activities and work at their own pace.

What is Montessori School?

A Montessori school is designed to take advantage of the sensitive years between the ages of three and six, when the child is most able to absorb information from his environment, following the philosophies and teachings of Dr. Maria Montessori, a world-renowned educator. Although a Montessori child has the advantage of beginning her education without drudgery, boredom or discouragement, very early learning is neither the norm nor the objective in Montessori education. The Montessori ideal is only that learning should occur naturally, a t the proper moment for each child.


Many Montessori schools continue through the elementary years of ages six to twelve, and some through the high school years.


“It is true, we cannot make a genius... We can only give each individual the chance to fulfil his potential possibilities to become an independent, secure, and balanced human being.”
Dr.Maria Montessori

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Are children free to do whatever they want?

First, "freedom" in the Montessori environment needs to be explained. Freedom is a goal, not a starting point. Freedom comes with knowledge. Once children have received an initial lesson on a material or understand the limits set within their environment, they are free to move about the classroom at will, to talk to other children, to work with any equipment appropriately whenever or as long as they want or to ask to be introduced to something new. This freedom of choice is not total freedom. Children learn that to enjoy freedom they need to respect the rights of others to enjoy similar freedom.

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What are the main differences between Montessori and traditional education?

Montessori emphasizes learning through all the senses, in other words, learning by doing. Montessori education emphasizes "learning how to learn" which means it is more important for children to learn how to process, discover, understand, and make choices on their own rather than merely learning to repeat information that has been presented and follow the lead of the teacher. Montessori classrooms are composed of children in three-year age groupings to allow for the flexibility of children to learn at their own pace and for spontaneous opportunities for older children to assist the younger ones.

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What is the ideal age for children to begin a Montessori program?

Children should start a Montessori program between two and a half and three and a half years of age, or earlier. Around two and a half, a child enters a new phase of development. Children entering at a later age have passed many "sensitive periods" and have foregone stages of opportunities to fully benefit from the developmental activities that build upon each other.

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What is the Montessori concept of discipline?

The goal is to achieve "inner discipline", or control which the child develops over his or her own behavior. To achieve inner discipline, children need to understand what is acceptable and what is not. Children are redirected to an acceptable activity or are given a choice. The teachers also give the children tools necessary to work out their own problems. For example, children need to learn the proper vocabulary and expressions needed to communicate dissatisfaction with another or to apologize. Children also need to learn what alternatives are acceptable to modify their own behavior or make a situation acceptable to all in the community.

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What is the teacher's role in a Montessori classroom?

The Montessori teacher is specially trained to assume the roles of guide, observer, and maintainer of the environment. She carefully prepares the environment by including stimulating materials and opportunities for the children to teach themselves and eliminates all obstacles. She presents an initial lesson to introduce the child to a particular activity or material and then allows the child to experience it on his own and repeat the activities. She also is constantly observing to assist the children when necessary, redirect them appropriately and determine the individual and group needs.

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Why is it so important to keep my five year old in Montessori?

The Kindergarten year in Montessori is a critical component of the three-year cycle. During the third year, all the earlier experiences are internalized and reinforced. All the activities and skills come together this last year and are completely understood. The five year old often helps the younger children with their work, becoming a "teacher", reinforcing his own skills, and gaining an incredible sense of self-confidence.

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