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.
From the age of three onwards, our students are taught in multi-age classrooms divided by three year increments, ensuring each child has the opportunity 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 allows for teachers to form consequential connections with students and their families. Having a meaningful relationship with a child allows for teachers to focus on individualized instruction, providing opportunities to deepen learning in areas of particular interest or need. By circumventing the expectations imposed by grade levels for all students to possess the same knowledge and skills, Montessori’s mixed age community provides children with the opportunity to engage a variety of roles and responsibilities; while older students adopt the roles of leaders to reinforce their own learning, younger students are able to gain motivation by observing their peers and collaborating. Students are able to operate on a continuum of learning, allowing them to progress through lessons at whichever rate feels most comfortable for them. 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 described 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 out or indoors, our teachers give special attention to creating a developmentally appropriate environment that is safe and orderly. Love of Learning students attend classes both in cabins and outdoors, ensuring their settings are light, inviting spaces designed to support independence and stimulate their intellectual, social, and emotional growth. Every element of the space is thoughtfully arranged so children have the maximum ability for learning and exploration. Children’s innate curiosity is encouraged by giving them opportunities to engage in spontaneous, purposeful activities. 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 that allows them time to think and reflect. A Montessori teacher serves as a guide for maintaining a safe atmosphere, however children are free to move about the classroom and fully develop their unique potential through appropriate sensorial materials.
Lessons in the classrooms consist of particular Montessori materials that facilitate much of children’s work. The materials range from simple to complex and from concrete to abstract, catering toward every child’s age and ability. This gives children a sense of ownership and pride over their rooms and serves to reinforce their social and emotional learning. Each material contains a built-in “control of error”, for example a puzzle that requires pieces to only fit a particular way. The hands-on Montessori approach teaches metaphysical concepts and develops memory built on sight, sound and touch. This both challenges and empowers children in their learning. Designed sequentially, each Montessori material prepares the children for the succeeding lesson. Montessori materials are designed to enhance a child’s depth of understanding and natural progression rather than dictate a series of unconnected concepts.
When asked about a teacher’s role, many are quick to picture one at the front of a classroom presenting lessons to a large group of students seated behind desks. However, in Montessori education the teacher’s role is to observe each child and present lessons to them 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 actively 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 because they are absorbed by the work of their choosing. The Montessori teacher controls the environment rather than the children. This unique approach allows the teacher to be a trusted guide and mentor. Though the pacing is individualized for each student, there are benchmark achievements which teachers ensure are met by each student to maintain their completion of the Montessori curriculum within three years.