With the start of a new school year upon us, Montessori, my classroom, new and old little students and upcoming lessons have my mind fairly occupied. I've said in the past that I would try to write every now and again about the method and education in general and answer any Montessori related questions you guys might have, so here we go! For those of you who are new around here, Aside from the other projects I have going on, I am a Montessori trained preschool and kindergarten teacher who teaches a twice a week montessori class full of nine 3-6 year olds. Even though I am only in the classroom on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I take my class very seriously and am always trying to think of new, fun and creative lessons and activities for my littles. With that said, many people are not really sure what Montessori even is and unfortunately the method is often stereotyped as "the kids being able to do whatever they want." This couldn't be further from the truth, and sort of true at the same time.
The method in general is about creating peaceful independence at a young age where children are responsible for their own learning. When in an environment that is set up accordingly, it just works. A lot of people think that if their child is responsible for his or her own learning they won't learn anything, but once a child steps into a Montessori environment that has been purposefully set up, the independent learning and eagerness comes. In a typical Montessori day the children are exposed to and are allowed the choices of choosing "work" from a range of classroom areas including math, language, practical life, sensorial, geography, art and science. If a child wants to work on math materials all morning long, so be it. Odds are they are working to master a particular skill and will want to choose something entirely different the next week. The kids are exposed to real life situations and are responsible for taking care of their environment. This is why in most cases Montessori kids are so dang good at cleaning up their messes, pouring their own juice, wiping up spills, and sweeping up crumbs. These everyday tasks are an important part of their learning. A Montessori teacher's job is to make sure each child is being exposed to all the area's of the classroom and is consistently progressing in his or her learning by careful observation and guidance.
Even describing the method here still makes it unclear how it actually works. If you are really interested in seeing the method in action, Montessori schools are more than willing for observers to come into their classrooms to see how the tiny communities function. I'd actually suggest it. Observing is a great way to see first hand how independent a 3 year old is, how mixed aged groups work and how much of a self sustaining community each Montessori classroom is. I also came across THIS VIDEO that portrays the montessori classroom beautifully. I'm happy to answer questions too! I know a lot of you are considering Montessori but were unclear of what it actually is. I hope this helps just a tiny bit! I'm excited to share some Montessori at home idea's in the future once this little one of mine comes along. Such fun thinking about incorporating aspects of the philosophy into my own home!