While many individuals may not know exactly how Montessori education works, it's quickly becoming more and more popular in the United States. There are thousands of schools in the country, and that number is growing fast. |
This style of education was developed by the Italian physician and teacher Maria Montessori beginning in 1897. She studied pedagogy and educational theory at the University of Rome and applied this knowledge to her first classroom, which she opened in a basement apartment in Rome in 1907. The method was developed based on her work with and observation of children. She studied and wrote about educational methods for a variety of ages, from birth and the age of twenty four, and developed educational methods for children between the ages of zero and three, three and six, and six and twelve. The method spread fairly quickly to the United States but was not really utilized by educators in the United States until 1960.
A Montessori classroom has many different characteristics. Typically, it is a mixed-age classroom. The students are allowed to choose activities from a variety of options and there is also freedom of movement within these classrooms. These activities usually take place in an uninterrupted block of time, which would ideally be three hours. The students in these classrooms are taught using a constructivist method. This can also be called the discovery model and is characterized by the students learning from working with classroom materials rather than by being instructed directly. Most of the educational materials used in these classrooms were developed by Montessori. Most teachers in the classrooms have been trained specifically for this method.
There are different educational practices for different age groups in the method. There are programs available for infants and toddlers that feature age-appropriate activities that are designed to foster independence. They also typically feature some type of toilet training for these children. Children who are in the preschool and kindergarten age group are typically in groups of 20 to 30, of mixed age range. The children could be as young as two and a half or as old as six. This classroom is typically taught by a trained teacher and an assistant and is outfitted with child-sized furniture. The students are allowed to pursue activities more or less freely after they are introduced by the teacher.
For elementary school age children, the lessons taught are usually quite broad in scope and the children are still grouped in mixed age groups, typically from six to nine years old and from nine to twelve years old. Lessons can focus on math, arts, history, sciences, and more. After the lessons are taught, the children are allowed to pursue independent work that focuses on their own interests. For middle and high school students, the educational program is not as well developed as it is for younger students. However, some of Maria Montessori's writings suggest that between the ages of twelve and eighteen, a student should leave the environment of their family and go out into the country, so many of the schools for middle and high school age children are in rural settings. Some programs are different than others, however, so make sure to check out the schools in your area for more specific information.
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