What does Montessori mean?

The Montessori method is named for Dr. Maria Montessori, the first woman doctor in Italy, who devoted her adult life to the observation and study of children. Rather than "teaching" a child concepts, the Montessori environment is designed to stimulate the child's interest and facilitate his understanding and learning capacities without interference. In this environment the child can unfold spontaneously and manifest the greater person within. According to Maria Montessori, "the child is the father of the man." The child begins to develop within himself the foundations for a lifetime of creative learning: thirst for learning, favorable attitudes toward school, and habits of concentration, initiative, order, and persistence.

What is the difference between day care, nursery school, and preschool?

Day care centers are generally for the purpose of caring for children on an all-day basis. Nursery schools are generally experiences in socialization and play. Preschools are oriented toward educational experiences combined with socialization and play.

How is a Montessori Preschool from other preschools?

In most preschools the children are taught educational concepts in a group by a teacher. In a Montessori preschool the children learn concepts spontaneously as they work independently with the many materials in the environment.

Why should I send my child to preschool?

Most educators and psychologists today agree that the single most important period in the development of a person's intelligence occurs between birth and age five. A child's mind is extremely absorbent and his curiosity is at a peak during these early years. When properly nourished and stimulated, the child's mind forms patterns for learning that serve him well throughout his life. The Montessori system of preschool education has proven to be one of the most effective methods to guide a child through these critical years.

What is in a Montessori classroom?

The Montessori classroom is a child-size world. Whatever is in the world outside can be incorporated meaningfully in the Montessori classroom. To a child, the world is overwhelming--it is big, complex, and confusing. By careful selection of materials by the teacher, an environment is set up that allows the child a place to explore life on a level he can understand. The materials or exercises are designed to stimulate independent exploration. This prepared environment entices the child to proceed at his own pace from simple activities to more complex ones. Through this process, the child's natural curiosity is satisfied and he begins to experience the joy of discovering the world around him.

What is a typical day in a Montessori classroom?

Children come into the school, greet the teachers, hang up their coats, and begin their days. They move about the classroom from activity to activity, unrolling a small rug for work on the floor or sitting at a table, talking or working with a friend or choosing to work alone, sitting back to observe as they wish. Each child manipulates materials of interest to him, receives lessons from the teacher on new material, shares snack with a friend, and so forth. The materials in the classroom are grouped into the areas of Practical Life, Sensorial, Math, Language, Art, Science, Geography, and Cultural. Toward the end of the morning, the children gather in a circle to hear a story read aloud, share news, sing songs, and recite poems. The final half-hour of each morning is spent at outside play, weather permitting.
After outside play, the Extended Day program continues with lunch, followed by another period of work. Some group quests are made in the afternoon, with all the children exploring a certain art form, collaborating on a session of storytelling or dramatization, or delving into a science experiment. Individual pursuits also continue at a pace established by each child for himself. Extended Day concludes with another circle for a review of the day and a story before outside play.

How do children interact in the environment?

As the children develop their sense of pride in their work, a feeling of confidence, well-being, and joy begins to manifest itself in each child. A general spirit of respect and cooperation among the children emerges.

What is the role of the Montessori teacher?

The Montessori teacher facilitates classroom activity. She carefully plans the environment in the interests of the children, and she helps children progress from one activity to the next. She is trained to deal with each child individually, allowing him to choose from many activities within his range of ability. She stands back while the child is working and allows him the satisfaction of his own discovery.

With all the freedom, isn't there confusion?

The concept of freedom in the classroom is a freedom within limits. A child is allowed to work freely so long as he does not disturb others. Actually, the children having the freedom to follow their interests are generally happy and busily involved in their work.

What is the best age to enroll a child in Montessori?

Maria Montessori outlined various periods of "sensitivity." During these times, a child is capable of and interested in learning specific concepts. At age 2 1/2 to 3 l/2, a special sense of order, concentration, coordination, and independence begins to emerge. This time is ideal to enroll a child in a Montessori preschool as he is at the perfect period to build a strong foundation for future learning.

How do Montessori children adjust to traditional elementary schools?

Children who have been in a Montessori environment are generally very flexible and adjust quite easily to the public school situation. They generally spend their time in productive ways because of their self-direction and positive attitude toward learning. Montessori children are quite adaptable since they have learned to work on their own without constant supervision.

Why do you recommend a five-day Montessori experience?

A child who attends school for five days each week will have the greatest opportunity for consistent spontaneous learning. Consecutive attendance is extremely important. It enables the child to feel safe and relaxed in the classroom and aids the child in forming strong bonds with their teachers and friends. A child taken in and out of school frequently does not have the same opportunity and consistency to pursue his unfolding interests.

What about socialization and group work?

Socialization is very much a part of the Montessori method. Each day there is group activities and outside play. Additionally, in the classroom you'll notice children interacting continuously, choosing to work on projects together, and older children helping younger ones. The children are allowed to communicate openly and joyfully with each other throughout the day.

Who is the Montessori method designed for?

The Montessori method is an "approach to learning" and as such has no distinction of class or intelligence. It has been used successfully in all parts of the world and in all types of programs.

Is Montessori expensive?

Montessori preschools have extensive materials, an encompassing environment, and a continuously trained staff. These elements can often cause tuition in Montessori schools to be higher than other preschools.