A Montessori program is different from other educational programs in a number of ways.

  • Teaches to individuals instead of to groups. In many other classrooms, lessons are presented to the whole class and sometimes to small groups. In Montessori schools the general rule is reversed. Most of the time the teacher presents lessons to individuals. Other children can watch if they are interested. In this way, the teacher can address the specific needs of a child and can respond to the that individual child’s interest and level of understanding. The child does not have to sit through something that he or she is not ready for. This individual attention also helps the teacher be much more familiar with the child. Thus, the teacher understands the child more fully and better provides for that child’s unique cognitive needs.
  • Children learn through practicing tasks rather than through listening and having to remember. In many non-Montessori classrooms children are expected to learn by listening to the teacher. Work is usually with paper and pencil. In a Montessori classroom, on the other hand, children learn by practicing with apparatus which embodies the concept to be mastered. For example, when learning about shapes such as triangles, squares, etc., instead of listening to a teacher lecture about the shapes and watching him/her draw them on a chalk board the children trace the real figures and make designs. They fit different shapes together to make patterns. They make fine discriminations by fitting shapes into the correct corresponding spaces.
  • The Montessori curriculum is much broader than other programs. Montessori program teaches more than just the basics. First of all, it has exercises to develop the child’s basic capabilities – his/her ability to control movement (motor development) to use senses (perceptual development) to think (cognitive development), to intend (volitional development), to feel and  have emotions (affective or emotional development). In this way, the program helps the child develop a strong foundation in language and math, and in-depth study of physical and cultural geography, zoology, botany, physical science, history and art. Children further learn practical skills for everyday life such as cooking, carpentry and sewing. But more than this, they learn how to be contributing members of a social community.
  • With regard to discipline, in a Montessori program the emphasis is on self discipline developed through helping the child learn how to appropriately meet needs rather than disciplining through the use of rewards and punishments.
  • In a Montessori classroom the organization of the room allows children easy access to a variety of learning experiences. The room is specifically organized to appear attractive and orderly. Materials are displayed on shelves.
  • The materials in a Montessori classroom are carefully designed and thoroughly researched to fit the developmental needs and characteristics of young children.
  • Montessori teachers are trained to teach respect and positive values thorough their modeling as well as through the way they teach.
  • The Montessori method of helping a child is through a process of showing a child what to do in a positive manner. Montessori teachers attempt to avoid “put downs” or sarcastic comments and try not to embarrass the child.
  • The Montessori program is systematic and carefully sequenced according to principles of development. Every activity is carefully thought out to build upon previous preparation and to lead intelligence on to a higher activity.
  • The Montessori program is designed to develop independence and responsibility. The organization of the classroom, the method of teaching and the practical life lessons are oriented toward helping the child become a self-sufficient and disciplined individual.
  • The routine of the Montessori program is based upon the principle of freedom of choice rather than on set times for prescribed activities. Since everything in the Montessori environment is something planned that is worthwhile and educational, the child can be free to choose.
  • In Montessori classrooms children are viewed as positive beings whose primary aim is work of constructing an adult. Rewards and punishments can only get in the way.  Development and learning by themselves are adequate motivators. Likewise, children do not need to be appealed to through fantasy, bright colors, or gimmicks, as these things come between the child and real learning. Therefore, joy is discovered and experienced in the real world through the study of nature, science, math, reading, history and geography rather than in a world of comics, cartoons and fantasy.
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