THE MONTESSORI METHOD
Dr. Maria Montessori discovered a new way of teaching in 1889. She called it the "Montessori Method". Her research revealed that children from birth to about 4 years of age absorb or soak up information like sponges. Here at Brazos Montessori we use the following activities to cultivate this way of learning.
Spontaneous Activity: It is natural for children to wiggle, touch things, and explore the world around them. Any true Montessori environment encourages children to move about freely, within reasonable limits of appropriate behavior. Most of the time they select work that captures their interest and attention. However, teachers also strive to draw their attention and capture their interest in new challenges and areas of inquiry. And even with this atmosphere of spontaneous activity, students do eventually have to master the basic skills of their culture, even if they would prefer to avoid them.
Active Learning: In Montessori classrooms, children not only select their own work most of the time, but also continue to work with tasks, returning to continue their work over many weeks or months, until finally the work is “so easy” for them that they can teach it to younger children. This is one of many ways that Montessori educators use to confirm that students have reached mastery of each skill. This concept of a student mastering a skill and teaching it to others is followed even at the university level, where it is common for graduate students to teach undergraduate students.
Self-directed Activity: One of Montessori’s key concepts is the idea that children are driven by their desire to become independent and competent beings in the world, to learn new things and master new skills. For this reason, outside rewards to create external motivation are both unnecessary and potentially can lead to passive adults who are dependent on others for everything from their self-image to permission to follow their dreams. In the process of making independent choices and exploring concepts largely on their own, Montessori children construct their own sense of individual identity and right and wrong.
Freedom within Limits: Montessori children enjoy considerable freedom of movement and choice, however their freedom always exists within carefully define limits on the range of their behavior. They are free to do anything appropriate to the ground rules of the community, but redirected promptly and firmly if they cross over the line.
Intrinsic Motivation to Learn: In Montessori programs, children do not work for grades or external rewards, nor do they simply complete assignments given to them by their teachers. Children learn because they are interested in things, and because all children share a desire to become competent and independent human beings.
Mixed Age Groups: Montessori classrooms gather together children of two, three, or more age levels into a family group. Children remain together for several years with only the oldest students moving on to the next class at year’s end.
A Family Setting: Montessori classrooms are communities of children and adults. As children grow older and more capable, they assume a great role in helping to care for the environment and meet the needs of younger children in the class. The focus is less on the teachers and more on the entire community of children and adults, much like one finds in a real family.
Cooperation and Collaboration, Rather Than Competition: Montessori children are encouraged to treat one another with kindness and respect. Insults and shunning behavior tends to be rarer. Instead, we normally find children who have a great fondness for one another, who are free from the one-up-man ship and needless interpersonal competition for attention and prestige. Children learn at their own pace, and teachers refrain from comparing students against one another.
The Child as a Spiritual Being: Montessori saw children far more than simply scholars. In her view, each child is a full and complete human being, the mother or father of the adult man or woman she will become. Even when very young, the child shares with the rest of humanity hopes, dreams, fears, emotions, and longing. From her perspective, this goes beyond mental health to the very core of one’s inner spiritual life. Montessori consciously designs social communities and education experiences that cultivate the child’s sense of independence, self-respect, love of peace, passion for self-chosen work done well, and ability to respect and celebrate the individual spirit within people of all ages and the value of all life.Hands on learning: In Montessori, students learn from direct personal hands-on contact with either real things under study or with concrete models that bring abstract concepts to life. This allows children to develop much deeper understanding than if they learn from text and work books only.