QUESTION: Is every child a Montessori Child, what sort of children best suit Montessori Education?
Montessori education is most definitely for every child. Dr. Montessori felt that her greatest discovery was that children like to work as well as play. Children have a natural drive to work in order to develop. Children are not content unless they have an opportunity to learn.
Parents need to read and learn about the Montessori method and implement it in their homes so that when children are at a Montessori school it is an easy transition, also if you learn and understand the philosophy behind Montessori then you will understand that it is for every child.
In a Montessori classroom children learn from the very beginning that they have freedom with boundaries, so they are able to understand what is expected of them. A child starting a Montessori education at a very young age is able to learn this concept from the very beginning and develop his learning around this. A child who starts later can still learn, but needs to be shown for quite sometime how the class is run and how to be calm and quiet when doing an activity. They will learn this as they watch the other children around them and want to do the same. Also the teacher gives the children one on one lessons so they can learn the different materials and how to use them properly.
The classroom has many different activities so the child can choose which one they would like to work with. The room is set out in different sections; they are Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, Math’s, and Culture. Every child has the drive to learn so all the different activities will give them that chance. Therefore all children’s needs are catered for, one child may want to learn how to do up buttons, and another might want to learn the number rods, a child may want to go outside to plant seeds in the garden, another to do sandpaper letters.
The teacher in the room is a silent member, she is not standing out the front talking to children at a board, rather she is sitting with individual children on a mat or child sized table teaching them how to do an activity they have chosen. Every child is busy; their minds are focused on their activity and their desire to learn. If a child is not working well with an activity they place it back on the shelf and choose another one. This helps their independence to grow; every activity in the room is designed for the child to learn so nothing wastes their time.
The Montessori program teaches more than just the basics, it has exercises to develop the child’s basic capacities, his or her ability to control movement, to use senses, to think, to decide and to feel and have emotions. Because of this the child becomes a competent learner. It develops their independence and responsibility; it also helps the child develop a strong foundation in language and math’s, physical and cultural geography, zoology, botany, physical science, history and art. Children also learn practical life skills for everyday life such as cooking and sewing, how to dress themselves.
Most important they learn how to be a contributing member of a social community.
Children have an amazing mental concentration; we have all been told that children have a short attention span. Dr. Montessori observed that very young children have a longer attention span if they work on tasks that interest them. A child on their own will practice things they are trying to master over and over again, they have a love of repetition.
Children love order, we normally think children are messy but Dr. Montessori found that children have a natural inclination for organization and orderliness. This natural inclination needs to be helped and developed by the parents and teachers.
Children love to choose their own things they do. If a room is set out for the child they will choose, take and replace the activities without assistance from an adult.
Children prefer work to play, she also says there is no need for rewards and punishment, children are intrinsically motivated to work, what they do need is help. As the adult we show children how to do what he or she is trying to accomplish. Accomplishment, competence, and being a contributing member of a society is rewarding in themselves, this is reward enough.
Children love silence, we may think of children as being noisy, Montessori discovered that children enjoy finding out how quiet they can be. The children like to listen to silence and to soft sounds. It is a game to see if a child can move a chair without making a sound.
Children have a deep sense of dignity just as we have as adults. They want to be capable and held in high regard, they want to do things for themselves, they can get embarrassed and feel ashamed.
Maria Montessori learnt that children showed such an interest in reading and writing that she provided some beginning materials. She was astonished by how the children seemed to “burst spontaneously” into writing and then reading if provided with the right materials.
So as you can see all children suit the Montessori method, it is built on all children’s needs and learning, it helps them to become a productive member of society.
“The role of the adult is to respect what the child can do for himself.”
- Rebecca Grugan