Now, when asked the question “What is Montessori?” my answer varies depending on who is asking, how much time we have, and how much interest in shown on the topic. I have gathered my reading notes and below is a summary the Montessori approach and its positive characteristics that led me to choose this teaching method for our family. I try to read it periodically to keep me motivated and remind me of why I chose Montessori…
The Montessori teaching method is based on the philosophy of Dr. Maria Montessori, an Italian who became the first woman to graduate from the University of Rome Medical School in the late 1800s. She then devoted many years to working, studying, and teaching about early childhood education. Her philosophy encourages children’s natural love of learning by creating a safe and enriching environment. It emphasizes the importance of education throughout the “Sensitive Periods” in the early years (birth trough age 6). For example, it takes advantage of the natural desire to learn and work and the willingness to please in preschoolers. Montessori taught that education does not need to be imposed on children; giving children the proper learning environment and freedom of choices offers opportunity for constructive growth.
Montessori is based on a profound respect for a child's personality. It is a child-led learning philosophy. Children work on their own free choice, at their own pace, and are allowed a large measure of independence; this forms the basis of self-discipline. A Montessori classroom uses carefully selected self-teaching and multi-sensorial materials with control-of-error built into lessons. Montessori education encourages children to discover for themselves the world around them. It instills a sense of discovery and awareness in preschoolers, as opposed to mere surface learning in an environment where a teacher makes all the decisions.
Sometimes instead of trying to explain a complex method it is easier to go over some of the basic goals and principles of the Montessori philosophy:
- Treat children with respect and understanding.
- Control of the environment not the child.
- Encourage children to develop independence and self discipline.
- Teach children to think for themselves and help discover individual uniqueness.
- Allow children to work at their own pace in ways that work best for them as individual learners.
- Instead of doing for the child (because it is easier), take the time to teach them to do it themselves. Don’t do for a child what he/she is able to do for him/her self.
- Promote structure and order.
- Teach respect for everyone and everything.
- Teach grace and courtesy.
I don’t know how long I will be homeschooling CC & RJ. Many factors will determine how long I am able to stay home with my children. However, through Montessori education I hope to give CC & RJ a solid foundation on which to base future learning. Through early homeschooling, I want to help my children become independent, build a strong positive self-image, and help them reach their full potential in all areas of life.