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What is Montessori

Montessori education is based on a deep respect for children’s natural psychological, physical and social development and the belief children have an innate desire to learn. Classroom design, materials, and daily routines support the individual’s unique development. Students are encouraged to explore and discover for themselves based on their interests and abilities. The Montessori teacher respects the child and engages him as a partner in learning. The teacher presents lessons using classroom materials, but the child discovers the rules. Children can respond at any moment to their own curiosity. They are motivated by satisfying their natural curiosity about the world around them. The result is that learning that gives him joy, builds self-worth and develops confidence. Dr. Maria Montessori discovered that experiential learning in this type of classroom led to a deeper understanding of language, mathematics, science, music, social interactions and much more. 

Essential Components of Montessori classrooms: 

  • Mixed age classes

  • Carefully prepared environment (materials and lessons)

  • Freedom to choose 

  • 3-hour work blocks

Dr. Montessori’s method has been time tested, with over 100 years of success in diverse cultures throughout the world and is rapidly growing today. The Montessori education method is supported through the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) and the American Montessori Society (AMS). 

Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) https://amiusa.org/

American Montessori Society (AMS) https://amshq.org/

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Montessori compared to Traditional education

Montessori schools work differently than others. Here are some of the most common contrasts between them.

Montessori

  • Multi-age grouping (2-5 year-olds)

  • Individualized curriculum based on interest and ability

  • Low student-teacher ratio

  • Teacher prepares the environment with learning materials for independent discovery

  • Much teaching is peer teaching and self-driven discovery

  • Child is self-paced and usually continues project as long as they want

  • Goals set by child

  • Promotes holistic and integrated learning

  • Focus on developing a love of learning

  • Child spots own errors through feedback from materials

  • Student self-assessment plays a pivotal role

  • Environment and method foster self-discipline

  • Classrooms are filled with soothing, natural colors

  • Children walk around freely and talk at will without disturbing others

  • Product-focused report cards

Traditional

  • Same-age groups

  • Grade-level curriculum aligned to state and federal standards

  • Higher student-teacher ratio

  • Teacher guides instruction and rotation to centers

  • Most teaching provided by teachers

  • Child is generally allotted a time frame for each area of learning

  • Goals based on national learning standards

  • Mostly skill-based teaching

  • Focus on mastering benchmarks

  • Feedback on errors mostly pointed out by teacher

  • Teachers perform testing and grading

  • Rewards and discouragement enforce discipline

  • Classrooms often have bold overstimulating colors

  • Children are assigned to a specific area

  • Process focused assessments, skills checklist

What type of preschool is best?

Choosing a preschool setting for your child can be confusing. Below are some resources to help inform your decision on an educational model for your child. If you are uncertain, we welcome you to schedule a 30-minute observation period at Montessori Life of Mt. Sinai.

https://www.todaysparent.com/family/parenting/montessori-vs-traditional-preschool-how-to-choose/

Research on The Reasons why Parents choose Montessori education

https://amshq.org/Families/Why-Choose-Montessori

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Glossary

These are some words and phrases frequently used in Montessori education:

Absorbent Mind: The minds of young children, between birth and age 5, are uniquely designed to absorb the sensorial stimulation around them and automatically embed these impressions into their subconscious mind. These impressions form engrams that join together to create associations that forever become part of the child’s soul. 

Meaningful Work: One of the secrets of engaging children is to provide them with meaningful work. For work to be “meaningful” it must capture the child’s attention and engage her concentration. This level of engagement reflects the real work of self-construction, motivated by the vital life force and the inner guide.

Movement: From the moment of birth, children engage environment through movement. This movement adds to their developing intelligence by bringing sensorial impressions into the sub-conscious mind. In addition, children’s movements develop both their muscular as well as their neurological structures. 

Freedom of Choice: Children are more likely to engage in meaningful work when they have freedom to choose what to do. 

Concentration: Concentration is the bridge to the inner guide and authentic self. To reach this state, children must ignore the distractions of sensorial sensations, memories, fantasies, and general wanderings of the mind. Achieving this state of concentration occurs when children find an activity that captures their deepest attention. 

Repetition: Children’s ability to integrate, assimilate, and remember what they are learning is enhanced by repetition. As children repeat activities, they strengthen the neural pathways of the brain, the power of their memory increases, and constructive habits are formed. 

Emotional Safety: When children experience negative emotional feelings, ranging from low-level anxiety to extreme fear, their capacity to integrate new concepts and remember what they have learned is deeply affected. 

Meaningful Context: Children integrate and assimilate information more effectively when what they learn is related to concepts previously learned and/or presented in the context of the greater whole. This is possible because of the existing engrams and associations in their subconscious mind. In addition, children’s ability to learn is greater when they view the work as meaningful.

Famous Montessori
Students

  • Larry Page and Sergey Brin – founders of Google

  • Jeff Bezos – founder of Amazon.com

  • Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis – former first lady (John F. Kennedy)

  • Sean ‘P.Diddy’ Combs – singer

  • Prince William and Prince Harry

  • T. Berry Brazelton – pediatrician and author

  • Julia Child – author, chef, TV cooking shows

  • Elizabeth Berridge – actress

  • Kami Cotler – actress

  • Melissa and Sarah Gilbert – actors

  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez – Nobel Prize winner for Literature

  • Katherine Graham – ex-owner of the Washington Post

  • Anne Frank – author, diarist from World War II

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