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The Montessori Approach
The Montessori system of education is unique in the field of early childhood education. A Montessori education offers children opportunities to develop their potential as they step out into the world as engaged, competent, responsible, and respectful citizens with an understanding and appreciation that learning is for life.
Benefits of Montessori:
Each child is valued as a unique individual. Montessori education recognizes that children learn in different ways, and accommodates all learning styles. Students are also free to learn at their own pace, each advancing through the curriculum as he is ready, guided by the teacher.
Beginning at an early age, Montessori students develop the executive functions of order, coordination, concentration, and independence. Classroom design, daily routines and the materials themselves support the individual's emerging "self-regulation" as well as the ability to educate one's self and to think about what one is learning.
Students are part of a close, caring community. The multi-age classroom recreates a family structure. Older students enjoy stature as mentors and role models; younger children feel supported and gain confidence about the challenges ahead. Teachers model respect, loving kindness, and a belief in peaceful conflict resolution while the students learn to work collaboratively.
Students enjoy earned freedom within limits. Working within parameters set by their teachers, students are active participants in deciding what their focus of learning will be from moment to moment, all the while the parameters set by the teachers ensure that all is accomplished.
Students are supported in becoming active seekers of knowledge. Teachers constantly analyze and prepare an environment where students have the freedom and the tools to pursue answers to their own questions.
Self-correction and self-assessment are an integral part of the Montessori classroom approach. As they mature, students learn to question and probe deeply, look critically at their work, and become adept at recognizing, correcting, and learning from their errors.
Five Montessori Principles:
1. Respect for the child is the cornerstone on which all other Montessori principles rest. We treat them with all the kindness with which we help to develop in them. Teachers show respect for children when they show them how to do things and learn for themselves. When children are respected and given choices, they learn to see themselves as competent partners in the task of becoming an autonomous learner.
2. The Absorbent Mind: Montessori believed that children educate themselves. Simply by living, children learn from their environment. Children are born to learn. What they learn depends greatly on their teachers, experiences, and environments. As Suzuki says, "Any child can be developed, it depends on how you do it."
3. The Sensitive Periods: Montessori observed that there are sensitive periods when children are more susceptible to certain behaviors and so are able to learn specific skills more easily. Although all children experience the same sensitive periods (e.g., a sensitive period for order, for language, for reading and for writing), the timing varies for each child.
4. The Prepared Environment: Montessori insists that the classroom should belong to the child who with her teacher, creates a space in which learning materials and experiences are available to children in an orderly format. Since children within the environment are free to explore materials of their own choosing, they absorb what they find there, always guided by the trained teacher.
5. Autoeducation: Children are capable of educating themselves. Children who are actively involved in a prepared environment and who exercise freedom of choice literally educate themselves and require a teacher who guides rather than who drills.