The Montessori Way
The Montessori Way is an educational philosophy developed by Maria Montessori. Maria Montessori was a scientist and one of the first women to become a physician in Italy in 1896. As a result of her duties she stumbled across the incredible capacity within children to learn and to grow. This discovery led her to leave her medical profession and pursue the burgeoning field of early childhood education by “following the child” in the early 1900’s. She was the first to create child sized learning environments so that children could pursue their interests without the assistance of adults. Within an orderly and structured environment Montessori observed that children were relentlessly curious and quite capable of intense focus. The child’s ability to focus then led to the refinement of various skills. After observing these phenomena occur within the community of children in her care she developed an educational philosophy that continues to be very effective today.
Undertstanding how children learn & thrive
While our world has changed dramatically in the last 120 years, the basic needs and desires of children has not changed. Children will always need a loving, steady, safe, reliable and interesting environment in which to grow. As Maria Montessori tirelessly and meticulously observed children she recognized that children will expend large amounts of energy on those things that interest them. Anyone who has ever tried to engage a young child in an activity they are NOT interested in will immediately acknowledge this truth. However, if a child is drawn to something and allowed to pursue it then he/she shows himself to be quite controlled and even patient. The crux of Montessori’s philosophy of education is that adults/teachers must work with the interests of the child in order to establish trust and respect as well as empower the children to take ownership of their learning. This results in an environment where the children are intrinsically motivated to work and to challenge themselves. Learn more about this here!
Caregiving, partnering & guiding
“Guided by teachers trained to observe and identify children’s unique learning capabilities, children learn in educational partnership with their teachers. Because children’s interests are heard and honored, Montessori students develop confidence and become self-directed. A powerful learning formula emerges as a result of this self-directed, self-initiated orientation to learning. When interested a child becomes self-motivated. Self-motivation leads to becoming self-disciplined. When self-disciplined a child engages in a process of mastery learning and fully develops his or her potential. This has been called The Montessori Way.” (Tim Seldin)
Journeying into the Montessori world
I (Gaye) came late to The Montessori Way, pursuing my Montessori training after receiving a masters in another field and having three children. I had heard a fair amount about Montessori but I did not understand it. Then I observed my first Montessori classroom in a public school in Laurens, S.C. where I was doing my Montessori training. I was intrigued and speechless.
The classroom was orderly and quiet as the children worked independently or in small groups. The classroom hummed happily with children talking in quiet voices while moving freely around the classroom. It was unlike any classroom I had ever been in. The teacher was not standing in the front of the class. There was no massive teacher’s desk. I had to look to find the teacher working with a child on a mat on the floor. I was greeted sweetly and spontaneously welcomed by the children into “their” classroom. It was beautiful. It was respectful and honoring and joyful. The children were happy learners and there was a distinct feeling of ownership and tranquility in this environment of 20-some little ones.
Providing an insider’s point of view
After eight years of creating, observing, revising and working in the Montessori environment I have seen the beauty of this learning method at work from the inside out. Clear, simple guidelines, mutual respect, freedom and joy of learning make such an environment possible. We are excited to share this community of learning with you and your child.