Maria Montessori developed her titular method in the early 1900s. Her research, spanning nearly four decades, concentrated on the development of a child’s knowledge through practical activities and exercises. In addition to establishing schools using her carefully examined and prepared teaching methods, Dr. Montessori authored numerous publications outlining her precise philosophies, which are used as the ruling principles for Montessori education today. The Montessori philosophy implements the freedom of exploration through structured learning in safe and carefully curated learning environments, both in and out of doors. Students are encouraged to be independent, motivated, and cooperative as they become academically prepared for their futures.
Beginning at age three, our students are taught in multi-age classrooms divided into three year increments. This allows them to experience being the youngest and oldest within their classroom community. The ability to guide, support, and observe students over a consecutive three year period gives grants teachers the opportunity to form valuable connections with students and their families, focusing on individualized instruction to deepen learning in areas of particular interest or need. Circumventing grade-level expectations that all students present the same proficiency and knowledge, Montessori’s mixed-age community encourages children to engage with a variety of roles and responsibilities; as older students practice leadership to reinforce their own learning, younger students gain motivation by observing and collaborating with their more experienced peers. Students operate on a continuum of learning, progressing through lessons at a comfortable, appropriately challenging pace. This prepares children for challenges and projects that extend beyond the structures of the classroom.
Montessori classrooms are referred to as “prepared environments”. In her book The Secret of Childhood, Dr. Montessori describes the goal of the prepared environment as follows: “The first aim of the prepared environment is, as far as it is possible, to render the growing child independent of the adult.” Whether outside or indoors, our teachers are dedicated to creating and maintaining an environment that is safe, orderly, and developmentally appropriate. Love of Learning students attend classes both in cabins and outdoors, and all environments intentionally designed to support independence and stimulate academic and personal growth. Each element of the space is thoughtfully arranged to maximize explorative learning, creating opportunities to engage in spontaneous, purposeful activities that nourish the child’s innate curiosity. The Montessori classroom is notably a busy space, in which children are actively immersed in meaningful work. It is, at the same time, a serene space conducive to quiet thought and reflection. A Montessori teacher ensures a safe atmosphere, students free to move about the classroom and guide their own progress through appropriate sensorial materials.
Classroom lessons utilize particular Montessori materials to facilitate much of the children’s work. The varied materials range from simple to complex, from concrete to abstract, catering appropriately toward each learner’s age and ability.
This gives children a sense of ownership and pride for their rooms and materials, as well as reinforcing their social and emotional learning. All materials have an element of “control of error”, for example, a puzzle that can only be completed by assembling the pieces into one particular configuration. The hands-on Montessori approach teaches metaphysical concepts, and develops memory built on sight, sound, and touch. Each Montessori material prepares the children for the succeeding lesson, sequentially designed to enhance a child’s depth of understanding and natural progression, rather than present a series of disparate concepts.
When asked about a teacher’s role, many are quick to imagine a figure at the front of a classroom, presenting lessons to a large group of students sitting at desks. However, in Montessori education, the teacher’s role is to observe each child, presenting lessons to them only when they are ready. In this environment, each child receives individual attention. The daily routine of a Montessori teacher involves observing the students, helping children choose work, presenting lessons, and posing provocative questions that promote deeper thinking. Since the children are engaged in activities of their choice, very little time is spent managing classroom behavior. Montessori students tend not to act out from restlessness or boredom, as they are actively absorbed in the work of their choosing. The Montessori teacher controls the environment, rather than the children, allowing the teacher to be a trusted guide and mentor. Though pacing is individualized for each student, teachers ensure that all students fulfill benchmark requirements to complete the Montessori curriculum within three years.