What is "Montessori"? That's a good question. Try searching the internet and see what you find. You'll find a lot of talk about the Monte ssori environment, about the benefits of the approach, about nurturing and independence. But you probably won't find a succinct definition of the Montessori approach. In fact, I'm still looking for one!
All of that doesn't mean that the Montessori way doesn't exist, or doesn't work. It just means that it's not something that can be put in a box that you can point to and say, "There, that's Montessori". The principles and tools that Dr. Maria Montessori developed over the course of many years of research and practical application teaching children are more about an approach rather than a specific set of rules.
- Myth: Montessori methods are unstructured and result in a free-for-all
- Truth: Montessori methods are very organized and offer a carefully prepared environment allowing independent growth
- Myth: Montessori methods are highly structured and allows no room for individuals
- Truth: Montessori methods are based on individual needs and requirements
- Myth: Montessori is affiliated with a particular religion
- Truth: Montessori is a philosophical approach to learning and has no religious affiliation
Dr. Montessori found that by using activities that promote learning, discovery and stimulation in an appropriately prepared environment, an environment that encourages independence, allows choice but also provides a sense of order and support, the student is happier, engaged and more involved in daily life. Rather than using a predefined curriculum, the Montessori approach is to provide each student with activities and objectives that are determined to be appropriate for them to help them move to the next level. Rather than following a structured set of rules, students are allowed to explore on their own while being guided and challenged.
To go back to our original question "What is Montessori?", we can say that the concept of Montessori is to approach each student as an individual, to understand that each student learns differently, has different interests and different abilities. The Montessori method is to provide a nurturing environment and use tools and activities specifically designed to help each student advance at their own pace.