Maria Montessori was the founder of the Montessori educational system. She was also the first female physician in Italy.
Dr. Maria Montessori found out that children had a natural inclination to learn about the world around them. Their curiosity fueled their need to learn. By simply placing them along with their peers allowed them to learn reading, writing, and many life's lessons that are integral for a growing child. It also teaches them to share, care, adjust, and be empathetic. They develop their motor, social, and reasoning skills that cannot be taught to children through books.
All that they learn plays a crucial part in their upbringing, especially at the Montessori. What the children of this age learn plays a fundamental role in their later life in many tiny but significant ways. Following are some pros and cons of the Montessori method for your know-how.
5 Principles of Montessori Education
Montessori is set upon the following 5 basic principles based on Dr. Maria Montessori's philosophy of education, research, and beliefs.
Respect for the Child
This is one of the main principles of Montessori. Teachers are supposed to show children how to accomplish their tasks rather than force or coax them into doing something. Activities are done as per the children's choice so that they take interest in learning and develop their skills effectively. Positive reinforcements and repetition are used to encourage these little minds.
As a rule, however, we do not respect children. We try to force them to follow us without regard to their special needs. We are overbearing with them, and above all, rude; and then we expect them to be submissive and well-behaved, knowing all the time how strong is their instinct of imitation and how touching their faith in and admiration of us. They will imitate us in any case. Let us treat them, therefore, with all the kindness which we would wish to help to develop in them.
― Montessori, 1965
The Absorbent Mind
Dr. Montessori believed that children can't help but learn. Learning comes naturally to them. All they do is simply absorb everything around them. For instance, children naturally learn to speak their native language.
The things he sees are not just remembered; they form a part of his soul.
― Montessori, 1966
Sensitive periods can also be called 'windows of opportunity'. As the name suggests, sensitive periods are when children are more susceptible to certain behavior and are capable of learning certain skills easily. One such example is when a child learns to write. Though it may vary from child to child, it is more or less around the same time.
A sensitive period refers to a special sensibility which a creature acquires in its infantile state, while it is still in a process of evolution. It is a transient disposition and limited to the acquisition of a particular trait. Once this trait or characteristic has been acquired, the special sensibility disappears....
― Montessori, 1966
Children need a suitable environment to explore, grow, and apply themselves. Their learning environment needs to be equipped with ample material to aid them in being independent, active, and mainly to keep them curious and involved.
The environment must be rich in motives which lend interest to activity and invite the child to conduct his own experiences.
Autoeducation goes back to the concept of self-education. Children who are active, involved, and encouraged in their environment are motivated to learn and educate themselves further.
The child can develop fully by means of experience in his environment. We call such experiences 'work'.
Pros of Montessori Education
● Montessori is hands-on learning in all subjects and topics.
● Classrooms may include mixed age groups of children. This helps them interact and socialize with a diverse social circle, and gives them a chance to develop leadership skills along with role modeling skills.
● Children attending Montessori schools learn to be independent.
● Children learn through play at their own pace.
● They are taught to respect themselves as well as others around them, including their environment.
● This education system is flexible and children-centric.
● Children get to explore their interests rather than being forced into an activity throughout the day.
● They are taught to use and learn through all five senses.
● They learn skills that will be useful to them in their real life, rather than bookish academics.
● The teachers there are skilled professionals who are taught to teach children of that age.
● It is not a reward-based system with grades or awards. On the contrary, children learn through self-motivation and are reinforced through learning itself.
● There are no tests; children are assessed via a portfolio, recorded, and observed by the teacher.
Cons of Montessori Education
● Not all public schools offer a Montessori option; you might find a private Montessori school around your vicinity that comes with a tuition payment.
● Some children may find transitioning to a classroom difficult.
● Many Montessori schools have a certain age limit.
● Authentic Montessori schools do not participate in annual standardized testing. If this is what you are seeking, you may be disappointed.
● Teachers may find it difficult to let the students choose their own activities.
● Some people loosely use the term 'Montessori' irrespective of whether the school is truly Montessori or not.
Montessori Method Vs. Traditional Method
➤ The Montessori method emphasizes on children's senses with toys and tools that provide self-correction and coordination.
➤ The traditional method pays more attention to books, charts, and instructions given by the teacher.
➤ In the Montessori method, children are free to interact with anyone they choose to, just as long as they are not disturbing the rest of the children.
➤ Decline is followed in the traditional method, where children are allowed to talk and move around freely, but only to a certain extent.
➤ Montessori children are responsible for their actions. This automatically disciplines and makes them responsible.
➤ In the traditional method, the teacher enforces discipline.
➤ The teacher plays a passive role in the Montessori method. He/she guides and helps children in developing their skills.
➤In the traditional method, however, a teacher plays an active role and gives direction to her students.
➤ The Montessori method requires an environment of children of mixed ages as younger children learn from the older ones. The older children act like mentors, and in turn, learn responsibility, caring, empathy, etc., towards the younger ones.
➤ The traditional method insists that children of a certain age should be in the same class as it is easier for the teacher to handle and teach. Here too, children learn to get along with one another, while learning the traditional curriculum.
Children, especially of a certain age, work like a sponge and soak in everything around them. They are constantly looking outwards, absorbing every emotion, tone and intonation of voice, expressions, constantly thinking, and perceiving everything that they can get their senses on. They learn anything and everything from teachers, parents, guardians, strangers, experiences, television, videos, and the environment. Therefore, Montessori toys and games
are chosen with optimum care to best aid the child's development.