One of the most common questions asked of Montessorians is, "What is the difference between Montessori and traditional schools?". This five minute video produced by Trevor Eissler gives a succinct overview of some of the major differences between Montessori and conventional approaches to education. Well known in the Montessori community, Mr. Eissler is a Montessori parent, advocate, public speaker and author of the book "Montessori Madness!"
Where did Montessori Come From?
Montessori education was founded in 1907 by Dr. Maria Montessori, the first woman in Italy to become a physician. She based her educational methods on scientific observation of children’s learning processes. Guided by her discovery that children teach themselves, Dr. Montessori designed a “prepared environment” in which children could freely choose from a number of developmentally appropriate activities. Now, nearly a century after Maria Montessori’s first casa dei bambini (“children’s house”) in Rome, Montessori education is found all over the world, spanning ages from birth to adolescence.
What is the difference between Montessori and traditional education?
Montessori emphasizes learning through all five senses, not just through listening, watching, or reading. Children in Montessori classes learn at their own, individual pace and according to their own choice of activities from hundreds of possibilities. Learning is an exciting process of discovery, leading to concentration, motivation, self-discipline, and a love of learning. Montessori classes place children in three year age groups (3-6, 6-9, 9-12, and so on) forming communities in which the older children spontaneously share their knowledge with the younger ones. Montessori represents an entirely different approach to education.
Is Montessori good for children with learning disabilities? What about gifted children?
Montessori is designed to help all children reach their fullest potential at their own unique pace. A classroom whose children have varying abilities is a community in which everyone learns from one another and everyone contributes. Moreover, multiage grouping allows each child to find his or her own pace without feeling “ahead” or “behind” in relation to peers.
Are Montessori children successful later in life?
Research studies show that Montessori children are well-prepared for later life academically, socially, and emotionally. In addition to scoring well on standardized tests, Montessori children are ranked above average on such criteria as following directions, turning in work on time, listening attentively, using basic skills, showing responsibility, asking provocative questions, showing enthusiasm for learning, and adapting to new situations.
What is the best age to start a child?
Maria Montessori outlined various periods of “sensitivity.” During these times, a child is more capable of and interested in learning specific concepts. At age 2 ½ to 3 ½, a special sense of order, concentration, coordination, and independence begin to emerge. This time is ideal to begin a child’s learning in Montessori as he/she is at the perfect period to build a strong foundation for the future learning.
What is the role of the Montessori teacher?
The teacher is called a director/directress because he/she facilitates the classroom activity. He/she is the link that put the child in touch with the prepared environment. The director/directress should know the general function of the prepared environment, nature and the purpose of every piece of the materials and the age that it is suited for the child. He/she carefully plans and helps the children progress from one activity to the next.
Maria Montessori emphasized the importance of the Early Years with the need for early education. She wrote, “The most important period of life is not the age of university studies, but the first one, the period from birth to age six. For that is the time when man’s intelligence itself, his/her greatest implement, is being formed.” In the first six years of life, a child has a unique ability to constantly absorb impressions from the environment, without knowing that it is doing so like a sponge. The child absorbs his/her environment so closely that it becomes a part of him/her. Like a camera, they capture every detail in the environment. That is why the first six years of life is the most important stage in the development of a child. They copy everything they see or hear.
Isn’t Montessori School expensive?
Tuition in Montessori preschools throughout the country is sometimes higher than other preschools because of the extensive materials and curriculum, specially designed environment, and highly trained staff. To give your child the finest possible experience in the most sensitive years is to provide a strong foundation for growth, which will last a lifetime. That is why, here at MONTESSORI SCHOOL OF ORLANDO, we try our best to accommodate every family with a low tuition.
How do Montessori children adjust to public schools?
Children who have been in a Montessori environment are generally very flexible and adjust quite easily to public school. They are usually better prepared to be good students and spend their time in productive ways because of their self direction and positive attitude towards learning.
Protection of the “best” in each child through respect of choice and concentration
The most important discovery that Dr. Montessori has contributed to the field of child development and education is the fostering of the best in each child. She discovered that in an environment where children are allowed to choose their work and to concentrate for as long as needed on that task, that they come out of this period of concentration (or meditation, or contemplation) refreshed and full of good will toward others. The teacher must know how to offer work, to link the child to the environment, who is the real teacher, and to protect this process. We know now that this natural goodness and compassion are inborn, and do not need to be taught, but to be protected.
There are no grades, or other forms of reward or punishment, subtle or overt. Assessment is by portfolio and the teacher’s observation and record keeping. The test of whether or not the system is working lies in the accomplishment and behavior of the children, their happiness, maturity, kindness, and love of learning and level of work.
Education of character is considered equally with academic education, children learning to take care of themselves, their environment, each other – cooking, cleaning, building, gardening, moving gracefully, speaking politely, being considerate and helpful, doing social work in the community, etc.