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Montessori Approach

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Montessori is an international educational model that has been adopted by thousands of schools throughout the world. It is "holistic" in that it is designed to address the child's physical, social, emotional, as well as, cognitive aspects. Individual learning styles, interests, and developmental stage are accommodated. Such individualization is why Montessori can be successful with all children -- the disadvantaged, learning disabled, gifted, "average", etc. The long-term aim of a Montessori education is to develop productive, culturally literate, lifelong learners who display a sense of responsibility for self and the global community. Through working in cooperation with the child's nature, it is believed that a sense of wonder and desire to learn can be maintained throughout an individual's lifetime.

The Montessori educational model is based upon the work of physician/educator, Maria Montessori (1870-1952). Dr. Montessori came to believe that all children have an innate drive and ability to learn and grow. She conducted observational research in order to discover the processes and sequences involved in human learning. Her innovative educational methods and materials are research-based and designed to foster the natural learning processes of exploration, discovery, and investigation. It is expected that a Montessori education will help students progress from a point of dependence upon sensorial, concrete learning materials to an ability to deal with abstract concepts; from egocentrism to awareness and care for others; from disorder to order; from distraction to focus; from immaturity to maturity.

Dr. Montessori found that children's interests and mental activities are aroused by the use of certain materials. She observed that all children appear to move through certain developmental stages. Dr. Montessori applied her discoveries when designing learning materials and activities to foster logical thought and discovery. All Montessori learning activities are presented at the appropriate developmental level. Younger children are provided with activities that encourage sensory, concrete participation with materials. Older children's learning activities are based on concrete, experiential learning but allow for the child's increasing ability to deal with more abstract thought. Older students are often involved in open-ended, in-depth library-based research.

The interrelated, hands-on, sequential Montessori materials provide concrete learning on which the child can build abstract understanding. They are designed to be self-correcting and teach one skill/concept at a time which encourages development of the individual's self-confidence and problem-solving abilities. Students do not receive traditional letter grades. Individual interests, readiness, and skills mastery determines the pace at which the child moves onto more advanced work.

The thematic, interdisciplinary Montessori curriculum, addresses a wide variety of learning areas that are found in traditional classrooms: language arts, science, mathematics, social and environmental studies, technology, literature, philosophy, and the arts. The Montessori teacher's primary function is to maintain the prepared learning environment and facilitate student learning. Learning activities are student-directed. Children teach themselves. Students may choose to work independently, in cooperative groups, or in peer tutoring situations. Classrooms are typically divided into the following groupings: early childhood (ages 0 - 3); primary (ages 3 - 6); elementary (ages 6 - 9), and middle school (ages 9 - 12).

The Montessori classroom is a positive, nurturing learning environment in which children's choices are respected and honored. It is carefully prepared and purposefully arranged. Students choose freely from the numerous developmentally appropriate activities that are available to them. The daily schedule provides relatively long blocks of time in which students can fully concentrate on their chosen learning activity with relatively few interruptions. Students are able to focus on learning activities and carry them through to a satisfactory conclusion. When an activity is completed, the student returns the materials to their designated place in the ordered environment. Typical activities observed in the Montessori classroom include the use of multi-sensory / experiential /real life / hands -on materials, library research, cooperative projects, field trips, community outreach, etc. Children are encouraged to actively participate in the learning process and openly exchange ideas and feelings. Textbooks and workbook exercises are avoided. Less importance is placed on the memorization of facts than application, the "how", and the "why".