All About Montessori Preschools
Montessori schools started in 1907 and are based on the ideas and work of Dr. Maria Montessori, one of the first women doctors in Italy. She believed that children do best in an environment where the adults in their lives consistently guide and empower them to do their own learning.
Dr. Montessori’s theories about intelligence went against the prevailing beliefs of her time, but today most educational experts agree with her. Some of her ideas, such as using child-size furniture and encouraging active learning in a multi-age setting, are fairly common now, even outside of Montessori schools. In this sense, as in many others, Dr. Montessori was ahead of her time
Basic Philosophy of Montessori Schools
Montessori teachers are facilitators and put the primary focus on the children. The children are taught to be responsible, to clean up after themselves, to help make their own snacks, and to use the toilet by themselves. Dr. Montessori believed that each child has a unique intelligence that is neither high nor low, but is composed of strengths and weaknesses, making up an individual profile.
What Makes Montessori Preschools Special?
Montessori classrooms are designed to provide children plenty of stimulation for work and projects. The Montessori approach is always a fine balance between freedom and discipline. Special features of a Montessori classroom:
- Specially designed educational materials that optimize the learning environment. In the Montessori approach beauty, order, and simplicity are highly valued.
- Children are given the freedom to move around — within acceptable limits — to encourage them to socialize with others and to interact with the Montessori materials.
- Working with mixed-age groups creates opportunities for children to develop at their own pace, socially and mentally. Younger children learn from their older peers, while the older children learn by helping their younger classmates. This also helps maintain order among the children.
A prepared environment is designed for each developmental stage and encourages a child’s abilities to unfold naturally, independent of a one-size-fits-all instructional method. In fact, contemporary early childhood educational theory is in harmony with Dr. Montessori’s methods. These include:
- Developmentally-appropriate instruction
- An integrated curriculum
- Individualized instruction
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