What is Montessori?
October 15, 2018
The Montessori method informs the design behind our entire curriculum at Monti Kids. For families unfamiliar, Montessori can seem abstract. But in reality, it is the opposite. Montessori is an educational approach that has been used for over 100 years and is trusted by over 20,000 schools around the world. It is ideal for babies and young children because it employs a series of toys that were designed through research to meet their developmental needs. It is comprehensive — addressing the child’s cognitive, physical, linguistic, social and emotional development.
Researchers have long recognized the benefits of a Montessori education:
All are necessary competencies in a fast-changing world where learning how to learn is the best foundation for success and happiness. Now that you’re here, let us walk you through some of the tenets of the Montessori approach:
1. Learning Through Play
The Montessori curriculum is the result of Dr. Maria Montessori’s groundbreaking research on the way children learn through play. Each toy was refined through experimentation to meet the child’s evolving needs, feeding his curiosity and creating the conditions that inspire engaging play and deep learning. Guided play provides a multitude of benefits for young children, including advances in language development, executive function, and brain growth itself.
Studies have shown that babies at play act as researchers:
Imagining new possibilities.
Our job is not to fill our children with information but to provide a rich environment that supports their natural drive to learn through play.
2. Embodied Learning
Montessori is described as “embodied education” because it prescribes learning through doing, engaging as many senses as possible. When children are allowed to move around, they learn more quickly and effectively. Motor and cognitive development are intimately connected, and mobility allows both to flourish.
Numerous research studies show that when educational activities incorporate movement, learners gain a better understanding of content and remember that content more accurately. Every Montessori lesson involves both mind and body–even vocabulary is learned through incorporating new words into active games.
In his book, Creating Innovators, Harvard researcher Tony Wagner describes Montessori education as a pathway to creativity, noting that some of the greatest innovators of today have a Montessori background.
Did you know the founders of Google, Amazon and Wikipedia, attended Montessori preschool?
Researchers have compared children across educational programs and found that those in Montessori programs scored higher on levels of creativity.
Creativity is a skill, and can be cultivated in the earliest years by a child’s environment. The best environments are thoughtfully designed to include a rich selection of developmentally appropriate materials that inspire learning through playful exploration.
When given the right tools, babies impress us with their capabilities–from feeding themselves to mastering a challenging toy. Montessori fosters independence and self-direction through the thoughtful design of each toy, the layout of the play space, and the way the adult interacts with the child.
When children are given independence, they develop self-confidence and resilience. Studies show that when children have more control over their learning they:
- Work harder
- Perform better
- Retain more information
- Are more creative and joyful
Children learn best when the task in front of them doesn’t bore them with simplicity or frustrate them with difficulty, but falls somewhere in between.
The Montessori curriculum is thoughtfully designed and timed so that children stay in this rewarding zone where the challenge is just right. When each new toy is introduced, the child struggles with the new skill at hand, practicing and then mastering it. This develops healthy self-esteem and a “growth mindset,” the understanding that they can improve their skills and increase their intelligence if they work through challenges. Children with this state of mind persevere longer on challenging tasks, a habit that leads to greater success in school, careers, and relationships.
6. Concentration and Flow
Babies are capable of extended periods of concentration when given developmentally appropriate toys and uninterrupted time to explore. Concentration is a prerequisite for all future learning. Our job as adults is to foster concentration as a skill that can be developed.
Intense, immersive concentration is known as “flow,” a state when people perform at their best, show the highest levels of creativity, and derive the most joy from their work. Montessori settings are perfect for this because they provide a rich environment, simultaneous physical and cognitive engagement, the opportunity for self-direction, and the appropriate amount of challenge.