Traditional preschool classroom vs. Reggio Emilia vs. Waldorf vs Montessori vs the list goes on...obviously Im biased to one over the others. let me tell you why:
After working in a montessori environment for three years, I see the positive affects the method and atmosphere have on a child's life. The sense of empowerment, accomplishment and pride are invaluable. Here's how it works - Put simply the child comes into a prepared environment consisting of seven focus areas- sensorial, math, language, art, geography, botany and science and practical life. All the materials in each area are designed for the children to use without much assistance from their teachers, which gives them an incredible confidence, enabling them to complete "work" (what we call montessori activities) on their own.
To give you a picture, here's what you might see:
A child comes into the classroom and gets right to work- choosing whatever they would like to work on from any of the seven subject areas. They choose push pining from the language shelf. Push Pining is an activity designed to help a child prepare for writing readiness because the use of the three finger pencil grasp is required to hold the push pin and is also an activity that builds concentration and focus. The child walks to the language shelf, with two hands picks up the try that holds the materials needed to complete this work, brings it to a table and without much chatter, gets to work. The design they choose to push pin is a snowman outline on a red piece of construction paper (its around the holiday season). To the child, they have chosen a fun activity which will result in them being able to take home a snowman they have created on their own. To the teacher, this child has just proven the ability to hold a pencil correctly implying they are ready to start writing letters and numbers. Once the snowman is completed and punched out the child will stand, push in his chair, walk over to his mailbox or cubby, put his finished work inside, walk back over to the table to collect the tray, and return it to the shelf where he got it - all without any assistance from his teachers. amazing right? Typical in the Montessori Classroom.
Everything in the montessori classroom is connected and serves a purpose- Just like in our world - we are all connected. What a beautiful message.....