The Montessori classroom is a prepared environment in which a multi-aged group of children self-select their work. Children may work independently, in pairs or in small groups of their choosing. They work at their own level and at their own pace.
In addition to books, art supplies, maps, and other resource materials, Montessori materials include specially designed manipulatives, each of which focuses on a particular concept or skill. These materials are designed to be self-correcting so students receive immediate feedback regarding their understanding and proficiency.
In the classroom, the teacher will rarely be found talking to the entire class, but instead will be circulating among the students assessing their progress or introducing them to new lessons individually or in small groups.Check out “Collaborative Learning” by Montessori Guide on Vimeo. The video is available for your viewing pleasure at https://vimeo.com/78630288 If you like this video, make sure you share it, too! Vimeo is filled with lots of amazing videos. See more at https://vimeo.com. More information:
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The use of the materials is based on the young child's unique aptitude for learning which Dr. Montessori identified as the "absorbent mind". In her writings, she frequently compared the young mind to a sponge. It literally absorbs information from the environment (as in the way a 2 year old learns his native language, without formal instruction and without the conscious, tedious effort which an adult must make to
master a foreign tongue). Acquiring information in this way is a natural and delightful activity for the young child who employs all his senses to investigate his interesting surroundings.
Since the child retains this ability to learn by absorbing until he is almost seven years old, Dr. Montessori reasoned that his experience could be enriched by a classroom where he could handle material which would demonstrate basic educational information to him. Over sixty years of experience have proven her theory that a young child can learn to read, write, and calculate in the same natural way that he learns to walk and
talk. Her research has revealed that a child is a lover of intellectual work, spontaneously chosen and carried out with profound joy. In a Montessori classroom the equipment invites him to do this at his own periods of interest and readiness. Each child works at his own pace, and since the child works from his own free choice, without competition and coercion, he benefits fully from the environment.
Dr. Montessori emphasized that the hand is the chief teacher of the child. Her method is based on the child's imperious need to learn by doing. In order to learn there must be concentration, and the best way a child can concentrate is by fixing his attention on some task he is performing with his hands. All the equipment in a Montessori classroom allows the child to reinforce his casual impressions by inviting him to use his hands for
All the materials in a Montessori classroom are organized into one of five curriculum areas: Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, Cultural, and Math.
Montessori materials are carefully sequenced so that each activity has an orderly and logical process to follow. The materials introduce concepts that increase in complexity and abstraction as the child progresses through the years. This allows children to organize their thinking and problem solving skills in a clear way, and to absorb this knowledge through their senses.
If classroom equipment is to be challenging enough to provoke a learning response, it must be matched to the standard which an individual child has already developed in his past experience. This experience is so varied that the most satisfying choice can be made only by the child himself. The Montessori classroom offers him the opportunity to choose from a wide range of graded materials. The child can grow as his interests lead him from one level of complexity to another. Having children of ages grouped together permits the younger children a graded series of models for imitation, and the older ones an opportunity to reinforce their own knowledge by helping the younger ones.
Because the children work individually with the materials, there is no competition in the Montessori classroom. Each child relates only to his own previous work, and his progress is not compared to the achievements of other children. Dr. Montessori believed that competition in education should be introduced only after the child has gained confidence in the use of the basic skills. "Never let a child risk failure," she wrote, "until he has a
reasonable chance of success."
In a Montessori classroom there is no front of the room and no teacher's desk as a focal point of attention, because the stimulation of learning comes from the total environment. Dr. Montessori always referred to the teacher as a director, and their role differs considerably from that of a traditional teacher. The teacher
is, first of all, a very keen observer of the individual interests and needs of each child, and their daily work proceeds from their observations rather than from a prepared curriculum. They demonstrate the correct use of
materials as they are individually chosen by the children. Carefully watches the progress of each child and keeps a record of his work with the materials. They are trained to recognize periods of readiness. Sometimes they must divert a child who chooses material which is beyond his ability, at other times they must encourage a child who is hesitant. Whenever a child makes a mistake, they refrain, if possible, from intervening and allows him to discover his own error through further manipulation of the self-correcting material. This procedure follows Dr. Montessori's principle that a child learns through experience.