As the new school year approaches, thousands of children will be entering Montessori classrooms all over the country. These children will be enjoying a very different kind of experience compared to their peers heading into traditional classrooms. The reason for this is that Dr. Maria Montessori, the Italian physician who founded this child-centered philosophy over 100 years ago, devised a method devoted to creating optimal learning environments specific to the needs of the child. Rather than being an antiquated system of learning, Dr. Montessori’s methods were so ahead of her time that they are only today being confirmed by recent technological advancements in brain development. Montessori students have benefited for close to a century due to the vision and genius of this unique child advocate.
The Montessori Method is designed to give students the opportunity to become independent workers as well as learning to work in groups with people of different learning styles and personalities. They are able to build their self-confidence through positive interactions with children and adults. Communication skills and problem solving techniques are improved because Montessori classrooms are not silent work environments. Children are moving about in a calm and cooperative manner making decisions and sharing ideas and information with each other. Children teach other children in a mixed-age group. Younger students obviously benefit by being taught by older students, however, studies have indicated that older students may benefit even more by teaching. These older students’ self-esteem and leadership skills are enhanced and their own learning is reinforced. All of this is going on in a classroom that is entirely hands-on; Dr. Montessori created hundreds of manipulative learning materials that allow children from the age of three to participate in concrete experiences in math, geometry, reading, science, geography, and history in a developmentally appropriate way. All of this learning takes place in a supportive, non-pressured manner that allows children to progress at their own pace.
Dr. Montessori began her work with young children, ages three through six, however, her work expanded into the elementary and adolescent years. Due to the success of her method, today there are thousands of Montessori schools throughout the country. Many schools now offer a Montessori environment through middle school, and in some cases, high school. Students who complete their school years in a Montessori environment emerge as unique young people. They have learned how to learn. They are usually very self-assured, kind, and respectful young leaders. They are thinkers who ask questions. They are independent learners, capable of managing their time and meeting goals. They are highly creative individuals who will follow their passions. They are excellent communicators who are able to problem solve and work well with all kinds of people. Does it sound too good to be true? Well, it isn’t, it’s Montessori. Visit a Montessori school near you to see for yourself.