We invite and encourage you to read more about Hilltop Montessori School’s authentic implementation of Montessori pedagogy here. You can also read this American Montessori Society article, The Top 12 Misconceptions about Montessori Education.
Montessori schools are based on a teaching method developed by Dr. Maria Montessori in the 1950s. A physician specializing in both pediatrics and psychiatry, Dr. Montessori believed that every child has incredible potential for learning and she designed a classroom to maximize the experience specifically for them – from the materials to the size and scale of the classroom itself. Such materials in each classroom are specifically constructed and their location consciously chosen.
Montessori programs are created to address the developmental characteristics normal to children in that stage:
Two and three day programs are often attractive to parents who do not need full-time care; however, five day programs create the consistency that is so important to young children and which is essential to developing strong Montessori programs. Since the primary goal of Montessori involves creating a culture of consistency, order, and empowerment, most Montessori schools will expect children to attend five days a week.
Children learn best by doing. Montessori children are free to move about, working alone or with others at will. Freedom is critical as children begin to explore. Our goal is less to teach them facts and concepts, but rather to have students fall in love with the process of focusing their complete attention on something and mastering its challenge with enthusiasm. The prepared environment of the Montessori classroom is a learning laboratory in which children are allowed the liberty to explore, discover, and select their own work. Work assigned by adults rarely results in such enthusiasm and interest and independence as does work that children freely choose for themselves.
At first, a Montessori classroom may look unstructured to some people, but it is actually quite structured at every level. Just because the Montessori program is highly individualized doesn’t mean that students can do whatever they like. You will often hear Montessorians reference “freedom within limits” – this means that there are limits, boundaries, expectations, set up by the teachers, curriculum, or environment itself. Then, within those limits, is the freedom of choice. Like all children, Montessori students live within a cultural context that involves the mastery of skills and knowledge that are considered essential.
The Montessori environment has been used successfully with children from all socio-economic levels, representing those in regular classes as well as gifted children, children with developmental delays, and children with emotional and physical disabilities. There is no one school that is right for all children, and certainly there are some children who may do better in a smaller classroom setting with a more teacher-directed program that offers fewer choices and more consistent external structure. For example, children who are easily over stimulated might not adapt as easily to a Montessori program. However, some children who have behavior and learning issues in a traditional setting do not have those issues at Hilltop. In our Montessori environment with freedom of movement and learning at one’s own pace, students are engaged and motivated in a more productive and enjoyable way.
* Questions and answers (in part) excerpted from The Montessori Way by Tim Seldin and Paul Epstein