Benefits of a Montessori Education: Child-Centered Approach

The Montessori method was birthed out of the scientific observations of Dr. Maria Montessori as she worked with children from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds, from birth to adulthood. She observed how children absorbed knowledge from their surroundings, and given the right environment, right materials, and freedom (within limits), taught themselves. She realized that teachers should not be conductors of information but rather facilitators of learning. She examined the natural progression of learning that children took, and designed her classroom and materials accordingly, rather than replicating adult environments and expecting children to thrive
Children are born with a natural curiosity and innate drive to learn, from rolling over to taking their first steps, to forming words, they observe, attempt, fail and try again and again until they succeed. Montessori teachers are child-centered in that they do not interfere with that natural process, which is why they are often called “guides” rather than “teachers”. Their role is to observe and follow the child, sometimes connecting them to activities and materials that coincide with their interests, needs, and development.
Montessori is also “child-centered” in the environment. The classroom is prepared for the child, not for adults. Decor is simple and undistracting. Rooms are open and set up in a logical order, with materials in each section progressing from beginning to advanced when moving left to right. Rooms are often connected to the outdoors, and when that is not possible, large windows, ample lighting, and indoor plants are incorporated into the environment. Natural elements and materials are emphasized within the classroom, along with sensory experiences: “learning through doing” is the guide. Each area of the classroom is focused on learning, from the handwashing sink, to the plants, to the snack area, to the mathematics area.
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Montessori is also child-centered in the materials. The materials are unusual to a first-time visitor who compares the classroom with more conventional preschools and child care centers. The classrooms are carefully designed to be largely independently used, self-correcting and multi-functional. They are sized appropriately for little hands, and are kept in good condition with everything a child needs for the activity set in a visually appealing manner. In addition to teaching concepts, they foster concentration and strengthening of fine motor skills. The materials introduce both basic and advanced concepts; for example, a young child may explore the world map and fit together the puzzle pieces while an older child will use the same material to label countries and create maps.

This child-centered approach cultivates a joy in and love for learning and fuels an innate curiosity!