When our children turn three or four, we immediately start to notice that they become individualities with their interests and talents. We see how they start talking and getting new knowledge about the huge world about them. At this point parents begin to look for better and more effective ways of educating and upbringing their children. At the age of five children go to the kindergarten and learn not only how the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic, but also how to behave in society, communicate with their peers, and to build new relationships. Then they begin to attend school where they can develop their skills and acquire new ones.
Today there are various teaching schools that offer various approaches to children’s education. The school that we are going to talk about in this article is called after Maria Montessori, an Italian educator who developed a new educational method which focuses on children’s independence and freedom.
Every Aspect of a Child Must Be Developed
So, what is so special about Maria Montessori’s educational method that it became so popular and that thousands of schools around the world are based on it? To begin with, for Maria Montessori it was crucial to pay attention to the child as a whole: not only was she a great educator, but also she was the first woman in Italy who finished the university medical program to become a physician.
A child’s physical education for her was just as important as his/her mental activity. Every single aspect of a child’s development counts – his/her social, spiritual, mental, and physical characteristics are the building blocks of one system which cannot be successful if one of these blocks is underestimated. All these characteristics are intertwined and are mutually influential. According to Maria Montessori Academy, there is no use in isolated development of these aspects because a child can become a well-rounded and a contributing member to society only when all these blocks are organically connected with each other.
A Child Is a Little Genius
Maria Montessori was writing a lot about children’s ability to absorb a gigantic amount of information at a very short period of time. Children are especially sensitive before they turn six years old – by this moment it is extremely important to create such an environment for a child that will let him/her absorb as much information as possible in the most effective way. We should mention that this method differs from the traditional one because the teacher’s task is not to teach children but to guide them. Montessori school is based on self-directed learning, which means that all the prepared materials in the classroom allow children to explore the world and the real life, to see their mistake, and to fix them.
It Is All About Zones
A classroom in Montessori school is divided into several zones. The first zone is designed to let children learn how to get dressed, how to wash, sew, carve, paint, etc. The second zone helps children with their sensory development: they play with different objects trying to learn how to differentiate color, height, width, and other parameters. The third zone is designed for learning how to read and write and for getting knowledge in geography, mathematics, and other subjects. The goal of the fourth zone is to motivate children to move and be more active during their studying.
Teacher is a Guide, Not an Educator
Another difference between the traditional system and Montessori school is that the teacher is not the centre of the class. Children are learning individually; they can choose their program in regards with their interests and abilities and do this at their own pace. Teachers communicate with children individually and only when they see that children need their help. It is also quite interesting that there are no grades in these schools – there is no need in creating the atmosphere of competition because children do not compete but help each other. Quite often children of different ages learn in the same classroom; thus, all of them can learn from each other as well.
Are There Any Disadvantages of Montessori Education?
While there are a lot of great things about Montessori education, there are disadvantages as well. It is fantastic when children can choose their program independently, but there are children that need traditional methods because they require instructions and even more guidance. Besides, many researchers believe that it is harder for children from Montessori school to adapt to traditional classroom setting and traditional educational approach. Researchers have also found out that the term ‘Montessori’ can be used by school that are not truly Montessori. All these things must be taken into account.
Forbes has given readers a list of extremely successful people who are graduates of Montessori school. Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the founders of Google, say that Montessori education helped them a lot and was crucial in their development. They appreciate the self-directed learning and the ability to follow their own interests. Will Wright, the creator of such video games as The Sims and SimCity, said in his interview that he found joy in discovery due to Montessori school. It is really hard to decide how to educate children. There is a huge variety of different methods, but Montessori education has been popular for decades and keeps bringing great results. If you feel that your child is ready for independent education and discovering his/her interests, consider Montessori school as a possible option.