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What is Montessori and how will it benefit your child?

More than just play-based learning, discover the history, philosophy and the woman behind the Montessori method.

By Valery Brown
What is Montessori and how will it benefit your child?

You've probably heard the term "play-based learning" many times. It seems like most educational institutions offer play-based curriculums, including public schools. And while this teaching philosophy is an important part of the Montessori method, there's more to it than letting kids learn through play. Discover more about a Montessori education and what it has to offer your child.

Two kids sitting at a table playing with sensory rice and playdoh

The woman behind the Montessori method 

After much opposition and perseverance, Maria Montessori was one of the first women in Italy to graduate from medical school and become a practicing physician in 1896. Her victory bolstered and birthed a movement for women to work and study in previously prohibited fields. 

Within the early years of Maria's medical practice, she became interested in educational theory, particularly regarding blind, deaf, and non-verbal children. She believed that children held an immeasurable capacity for learning from the moment of birth—and it became a catalyst for Montessori education.

Soon, Maria opened a home-like school, the first Casa Dei Bambini, in the slums of Italy. As she observed children, she learned about their needs and afforded them the freedom to explore their interests; learning became spontaneous and natural. Maria believed that education went beyond a desk and she provided children with a hands-on approach to learning. 

Two kids sitting at a table playing with blocks

The Montessori philosophy

The goal of a Montessori education is to foster a child's independence and love of learning. Maria believed education should be rooted in a richly prepared environment and provide children with the freedom to explore. 

Respect for the child

Montessori teaches us to deeply respect children. This means not interrupting them when they're concentrating, allowing them to discover their own mistakes, and observing them without judgment. 

The Montessori guide

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In Montessori education, teachers observe children in their environment and then guide them through it based on their abilities and interests. 

Sensitive periods

In Montessori, there is a belief that children have "sensitive periods", a period of burning interest in something, during which a child acquires a new specific skill. Montessori believes children learn best during these periods.  

Order

The Montessori environment is orderly, clean, pleasant, and beautiful. Children are encouraged to care for their own space. 

Structured for children

Montessori classrooms are structured so that everything has a purpose and a place. Learning materials and furniture are child-sized and designed for tiny hands. Everything is open and accessible to the child. 

Movement and cognition

Equipment and activities, such as climbers, are placed and used in the classroom to encourage movement. These movements develop connections in the brain to foster gross and fine motor movement.

Peace education 

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Peace is the guide of Montessori education. Students practice simple lessons such as greeting others, using their manners and living in harmony with themselves, others, and the natural environment. 

Repetition 

Montessori supports learning through repetition and practice. 

This article was originally published on Feb 09, 2023

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