WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MONTESSORI AND TRADITIONAL EDUCATION?
Montessori represents an entirely different approach to education. It emphasizes learning through all five senses, not just through listening, watching, or reading.
Children need space and freedom to learn and grow. Our Montessori schools provide that space and freedom, but in a well-constructed environment with materials that encourage them to develop academically, physically, psychologically and emotionally. Our school develops the whole child. Learning is based on the child's self-motivation to explore and grow, but it’s guided by teachers.
Montessori Children in Montessori classes learn at their own, individual pace and according to their own choice of activities from hundreds of possibilities.
With Montessori, Learning is an exciting process of discovery, leading to concentration, self-motivation, self-discipline, and a love of learning. Montessori classes place children in three-year age groups, eg 0-3yrs, 3-6yrs forming communities in which the older children spontaneously share their knowledge with and mentor the younger ones.
DO MONTESSORI TEACHERS FOLLOW A CURRICULUM?
Montessori schools teach the same basic skills as traditional schools, and offer a rigorous academic program. Most of the subject areas are familiar—such as math, science, history, geography, and language—but they are presented through an integrated approach that brings separate strands of the curriculum together.
While studying a map of Africa, for example, students may explore the art, history, and inventions of several African nations . This may lead them to examine ancient Egypt, including hieroglyphs and their place in the history of writing. The study of the pyramids, of course, is a natural bridge to geometry.
This approach to curriculum shows the interrelatedness of all things. It also allows students to become thoroughly immersed in a topic—and to give their curiosity full rein.
IF CHILDREN WORK AT THEIR OWN PACE, DON'T THEY FALL BEHIND?
Although students are free to work at their own pace, they’re not going it alone. The Montessori teacher closely observes each child and provides materials and activities that advance his learning by building on skills and knowledge already gained. This gentle guidance helps him master the challenge at hand—and protects him from moving on before he’s ready, which is what actually causes children to “fall behind.”
HOW WELL DO MONTESSORI STUDENTS DO COMPARED TO STUDENTS IN NON-MONTESSORI SCHOOLS?
There is a growing body of research comparing Montessori students to those in traditional schools. These suggest that in academic subjects, Montessori students perform as well as or better than their non-Montessori peers.
In one study, for example, children who had attended Montessori schools at the preschool and primary levels earned higher scores in high school on standardized math and science tests. Another study found that the essays of 12-year-old Montessori students were more creative and used more complex sentence structures than those produced by the non-Montessori group.
Research also shows Montessori students to have greater social and behavioral skills. They demonstrate a greater sense of fairness and justice, for example, and are more likely to choose positive responses for dealing with social dilemmas.
By less stringent measures, too, Montessori students seem to do quite well. Most Montessori schools report that their students are typically accepted into the high schools and colleges of their choice. And many graduates cite their years at Montessori when reflecting on important influences in their life.
DOES THE MONTESSORI METHOD WORK FOR ALL CHILDREN?
In a word: yes. There is no age group or social class that can't benefit from the Montessori system. It's equally effective for all children, no matter what their level of physical and mental development.
The results speak for themselves: children with a healthy level of self-confidence balanced by a good measure of self-discipline. They are independent and self-motivated and always excited to learn new things. The fact that they haven't been drilled in any prescribed learning methods gives them a unique approach to problem solving.
CAN MONTESSORI ACCOMMODATE GIFTED CHILDREN? WHAT ABOUT CHILDREN WITH OTHER SPECIAL LEARNING NEEDS?
An advantage of the Montessori approach—including multi-age classrooms with students of varying abilities and interests—is that it allows each child to work at her own pace. Students whose strengths and interests propel them to higher levels of learning can find intellectual challenge without being separated from their peers. The same is true for students who may need extra guidance and support: each can progress through the curriculum at his own comfortable pace, without feeling pressure to "catch up."
We might note that from a Montessori perspective, every child is considered gifted, each in her own way. For every child has his own unique strengths—it is all a matter of degree.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF MONTESSORI?
The emphasis on independent learning, and the warm, supportive community which is fostered in Montessori classrooms continue to be important at each stage of development as children grow into lifelong learners and responsible citizens of the world.
CAN MONTESSORI EDUCATED CHILDREN CROSS OVER TO TRADITIONAL LEARNING?
Yes they can. Remember that Montessori educated children have self-discipline, self-confidence and a great deal of respect and enthusiasm for learning. They are naturally flexible and adaptable and shouldn't have much trouble slotting into a traditional classroom.
The no-talking rule may come as a shock, though.