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PHILOSOPHY

Every child is born with a desire to learn.

According to Dr. Maria Montessori, the mind of a young child has a great capacity for absorbing a tremendous variety of experiences. "The most important period of life is… the period from birth to the age of six," said Dr. Montessori, "for that is the time when a person's intelligence itself is being formed." If the child's experiences during these years are limited, the most impressionable years are lost forever.

The essential concept of the Montessori approach to education is that every child carries unseen within, the adult that she/he one day will become. In order to develop his/her full physical, intellectual, spiritual, and emotional potential the child must have the right physical, intellectual, and emotional environment during the years of early childhood.

Montessori is based on respect: respect for the child, respect for his family, and respect for all life. The youngest child is treated with great respect for his independence and dignity as a growing human being.

Montessori educators recognize that no two children are the same. They grow in their own ways, at their own individual pace. As children develop they may find that they learn a given skill in ways that their classmates may not. Montessori teachers respect the differences among the children and allow them to blossom.

METHOD

Montessori is a philosophy and method of education which emphasizes the potential of the young child and which develops this potential by utilizing specially trained teachers and specially designed teaching materials.

Montessori recognizes in each child a natural curiosity and desire to learn: the Montessori materials awaken this desire and channel this curiosity into a learning experience which each child can enjoy. Montessori materials help the child to better understand what they learn by associating an abstract concept with a concrete sensorial experience. In this manner, the Montessori child is actually learning, and not simply memorizing. The Montessori Method stresses that the child learns and progresses at their own pace so that fast learners are not held back, and slow learners are not frustrated by their inability to keep up.


 

ENVIRONMENT

Effective learning takes place best in an environment that allows the child the freedom to make discoveries while providing ground rules and programmed materials which allow a child to move from hands on concrete manipulation to abstract mastery.

The Montessori environment includes a fine balance between structure and freedom. The concept of freedom, a freedom which entails responsibility, is gradually introduced from the time the children enter school. Freedom does not involve only being able to do what you want to do. It involves being able to distinguish what is constructive and beneficial and then being able to carry it out. Montessori children have a wide variety of constructive paths to choose. They gain the skills and tools to accomplish their choices and are taught the social values that enable them to make enlightened choices.

Experience tells us that creativity cannot be taught and that the child's environment tends to either foster or restrict creativity. To foster creativity, Dr. Montessori realized that the environment must itself be beautiful, harmonious, and based on reality in order for children to organize their perceptions of it. Then they will be capable of selecting and emphasizing those processes necessary for creative endeavors. Children, therefore, need freedom to develop creativity--freedom to select what attracts them in their environment, to relate to it without interruption and for as long as they like, to discover solutions and ideas and select answers on their own, and to communicate and share their discoveries with others at will.

The classroom is the child's work place. It is a safe, orderly, open space that invites or draws the child into it to "work". It contains materials and equipment necessary for children's learning. Depending on the age and needs of the students in the classroom, it will contain materials and equipment for learning in the various curriculum areas. The environment may contain materials for practical life, sensorial education, language, math, geography, science, art and any other various subject areas that are available for the students.

MATERIALS

The Montessori classroom offers over 500 unique self-teaching materials. These materials accommodate many levels of ability. They are not "teaching aids" in the traditional sense, because their goal is not the external one of teaching children skills or imparting knowledge through "correct usage." Rather, their goal is an internal one of aiding children's mental development and self-construction.

They aid this growth by providing stimuli that captures children's attention and initiating a natural form of concentration. Children then use the apparatus to develop coordination, attention to details, and good work habits. When the environment offers materials that stimulate children, the teacher is then able to give them the freedom needed for healthy development.

 

TRADITIONAL vs. MONTESSORI EDUCATION

      Traditional Education       Montessori Education
Children are grouped chronologically, one age per class. Non-graded (two or three year age span)
There is a pervasive emphasis on grades, merits, and social conformity. Self-humanization is the root motivation.
The class is seated at desks for most of time for group lessons. Students "work" at tables, on floor; freedom of movement.
The class, as a group, studies one subject at a time. Children pursue their own self-paced curriculum, individually or in small groups, in various parts of the learning environment.
The children are taught by "truth middlemen" (teachers, society's conforming values). The children are in direct contact with environment--i.e. natural, sensory and cultural experiences.
Class schedules limit child's involvement. Long blocks of time permit invaluable concentration.
Relatively frequent interruptions: bells, adult interventions. Relatively few interruptions.
Postponement of cognitive development until first grade. Critical cognitive skills developed before age six.
Basal readers. Multi-sensorial, more flexible writing and reading opportunities.
Teachers & society correct pupil’s errors. Children learn from their peers and self-correcting materials. The teacher’s role is as a guide.

Minnesota Montessori Accelerated Learning Center
4194 Pilot Knob Rd • Eagan,  MN 55123 • (651) 686-7984
3150 Eagle Creek Blvd • Shakopee, MN 55379 • (952) 402-0303

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