What Is Montessori Education & What Are The Benefits?

The Montessori method of education has been around for over a century since Dr Maria Montessori opened her first classroom in 1907, named Casa Dei Bambini in Italy.

what is montessori education and what are the benefits of montessori education

It’s been a popular and loved alternative to traditional education by many teachers and parents since it was first developed and many of our STEAM toys fit with this methodology, but still, not many people know or understand what its benefits are or how it differs from traditional education. 

What is Montessori Education?

The Montessori education method, developed by Maria Montessori is based on scientific observations of children and is defined as follows by the Montessori Foundation: 

TL;DR

Montessori is a method of education that is based on self-directed activity, hands-on learning and collaborative play. In Montessori classrooms, children make creative choices in their learning, while the classroom and the highly trained teacher offer age-appropriate activities to guide the process. Children work in groups and individually to discover and explore the knowledge of the world and to develop their maximum potential.

Source: Montessori North West

Montessori education is based on a model of human development developed by Maria Montessori and her son Mario. The model the mother-son duo developed has two principles: 

  • Children engage in psychological self-construction through interaction.
  • Children have an innate path of psychological development.

How are Montessori Schools different from Traditional Schools?

There are definitely some stark differences between traditional schools and Montessori schools. 

Classroom Structure

Compared to our traditional education system, Montessori schools group children in classrooms based on their plane of development: birth to 6 years, from 6 to 12, from 12 to 18, and from 18 to 24 years. So, a Montessori classroom serves mixed-age children and this structure is followed in infant and toddler programs, kindergarten (classrooms for kids aged 3-6) and elementary school (classrooms for kids aged 6-9 and 9-12). Montessori education for middle and high school is less well developed.

Schedule

While traditional schools follow a clear schedule and curriculum, in Montessori schools teachers try as much as possible to avoid interrupting the working of children’s minds. Children get to spend as much time as they need on each activity they choose to undertake.

Hands-on Activities

Montessori classrooms have a hands-on approach to learning, driving children to solve problems and figure out the answers for themselves, with guidance from teachers when necessary. Traditional classrooms, on the other hand, have a more passive approach to learning, focusing on notes, assessments and memorising theory.

Attitude towards learning. 

This differs greatly too between the two education systems. Where traditional schools follow a strict curriculum based on standardised testing and performance levels, Montessori schools have a curriculum designed to nurture a passion for learning from the student.

Teachers’ roles.

Again, linked to the curriculum and schedule of these systems, Montessori teachers act more like consultants to children, being there to guide them through their chosen learning activity. Traditional teachers have to follow the curriculum and a predetermined schedule for their classes, regardless of the child’s learning capacity.

What are the benefits of Montessori Education?

Before we dive into the benefits it is important you consider the following:

While a Montessori school can benefit children in many ways it is also not for every child. Some children will thrive in a Montessori classroom whereas others will do so in a traditional classroom environment. 

Great, now what are the benefits? 

Children attending a Montessori school will benefit from a hands-on approach to learning, getting to develop their creativity, critical thinking and problem-solving skills. The open-space and community feel of Montessori classrooms along with grouping children of different ages together are intended to foster peer-to-peer learning which can naturally lead to growth. 

The Montessori approach which fosters independence and freedom of choice also cultivates children’s curiosity and fosters a love of learning that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. 

That being said, similar to the Traditional education system, the Montessori approach is not without its faults.

Firstly, it can be expensive. Montessori schools are usually private and some require a pretty hefty fee, especially in the United States.

While fostering independence and teaching kids to think on their own terms is important, well… life isn’t always like that. Children should also learn collaboration and be able to work under stricter authority. Traditional schools have an advantage in this situation because of the way the system is structured. 

The bottom line is, each educational system has its strengths and weaknesses and it will be better for one child or another. As the Montessori approach says, each child has a different development path and you should choose the one you think will have a greater benefit to YOUR child’s development. 

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