Research shows that the best predictor of future success is a positive sense of self-esteem. Montessori programs, based on self-directed, noncompetitive activities, help children develop strong self-images and the confidence to face challenges and change with optimism.
Montessori Versus “Traditional” Schools
The core difference between Montessori and “traditional” educational methods is its focus on the individual child. Maria Montessori spent decades observing children at different stages of development – from birth to adulthood.
In a Montessori education, children attend multi-aged classrooms, which benefit them individually and socially by giving the younger children role models and the older children the opportunity to be leaders. The common thread in all of Montessori’s method is the deep respect that is shown for the child as an individual and the director of his own development.
The Montessori classroom
An authentic Montessori classroom is a prepared environment divided into the following areas:
The Practical Life area has two types of activities; those that teach the child to care for himself and activities that teach the child to care for the environment. The direct aim of these activities is to teach him order, concentration, coordination and independence.
The Sensorial area contains materials that help the child to develop discrimination and classification skills. These materials assist the natural process of the child’s mind to receive impressions of the environment through the senses.
The Mathematics area introduces the child to quantity, then the symbols 1-10. The next step is teens and tens. By using beads and number cards the child learns the basis for the decimal system. It is a gradual process of working with many materials in addition, subtraction, multiplication and division that will lead to total abstraction.
The Language area is composed of specially designed materials that assist the child in his natural development of writing and reading skills. They are broken down into components and distributed according to the natural powers of the child.
The Science area is closely related to all other areas in the classroom. Hands-on experiments will allow the child to observe and draw his own conclusions. The child will also delve into the study of animals, their habitats and their classifications, such as non-living or living, plants or animals, vertebrates or invertebrates.
The Geography area begins with the study of the globe with its land and water masses, continents, countries and cultures. Materials include the globe with color-coded continents, maps and clay models of land and water forms. Cultures are studied through pictures, foods, music and artifacts.
The History area provides a concrete presentation of the past and is accomplished through work with time lines relating to the child’s own day and life, as well as famous holidays or individuals, nonhuman and human time periods.