What is the Montessori Method?

The ideas of what we now know as the Montessori Method first came about in the late 1800s with the observations of the French doctors Jean Itard and Edouard Seguin who observed and worked with children with special needs. Its popularity today was brought about by the Italian doctor and teacher, Maria Montessori, who introduced it into U.S. classrooms in 1904.

Dr. Montessori believed that children learn best when they “choose” what activities they want to participate in while they learn. She believed that while observing children in this free setting, she was able to discover what she believed was the “child’s true normal nature.” Children who are taught in this method are not tested and measured as one would be in the traditional classroom. The materials used in these classrooms are designed for the students to direct their own learning. When this method is used, the teacher’s only responsibilities are to observe and guide the children to the activities and resolve any bad behavior that may occur during learning. Most of the children in the Montessori classroom are between the ages of 2 1/2 to 6 but sometimes the method can be used as old as 18, though it is not as common. It is also commonly used when children with special needs cannot be integrated into the mainstream classroom.

In the Montessori Method, the children are encouraged to learn at their own pace using their special needs, talents, and gifts, so that each child’s individuality can be seen. Dr. Montessori believed that the true joy of learning is experienced when children are allowed to determine their own learning and many children who are taught her methods become happy and confident children.

Not only does this “free” learning bring about the joy of learning, but it also teaches the child to be independent and to rely on one’s own self as one learns the skills that are needed in life by learning how to dress themselves, cook, clean up their play area, and help with daily household and classroom chores.

The Montessori method works by repeating the tasks so that the child can step up his game in the learning world. While the child is young, the approach is much more hands on while he learns through activities that encourage the use of his five senses, dance or gymnastics, spatial refinement, small and large motor skills, and coordination. As he enters elementary school, activities which involve abstract thinking, writing, reading, science, and mathematics are integrated into their repertoire of learning as well as culture and exploration of the environment, which includes nature, music, art, religion, and society.

Activities that can be used when teaching your preschooler using the Montessori Method at home are pouring and transferring liquids and solids, washing and cleaning by having them help with laundry and cleaning floors or dusting, helping with meal preparation, helping mend and patch clothes, crocheting and knitting, woodworking and whittling and other daily activities around the home. These daily life activities help prepare them for future.