The Montessori Preschool Experience

The Montessori movement, pioneered by Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori in 1907, is based on the idea that children are naturally motivated to learn when placed in an educational environment designed to foster independence and self-confidence. Several elements of the method are widely adopted by preschools, even those that do not bear her name: the eschewing of individual desks in favor of mats or child-size tables, daily observances that include circle time and choice time (where students sit to eat, share news or listen to group lessons while busily engaged in classroom “centers” like art, music and tower-building), 3-hour a day work cycles, the use of specially designed educational materials and the inclusion of mixed-age groups in the classroom (to encourage pro-social peer tutoring and social skills).

Teachers in Montessori classes serve as guides Beaverton Christian School and observers. Depending on what they see, they may step in to offer instruction or help a student problem-solve. However, they do not conduct the teacher-directed lessons common in conventional classrooms where short timeslots are devoted to each activity and the instructor instructs students at the front of the room. Instead, children independently pursue their interests and progress through projects in long blocks of time.

Using specially designed learning materials, the Montessori curriculum supports sensorial experiences of dimension, color, shape and texture and academic concepts of math, language and science. Students engage hands-on with the materials during a three-hour work cycle, often individually but also in pairs and small groups, within set classroom rules. The freedom to choose what they do and how long they will work on an activity helps children refine important skills like concentration and self-discipline.

In addition to providing a sense of confidence and competence, the Montessori approach also promotes an attitude of compassion toward others. In a typical classroom, students are encouraged to be role models and teach their younger peers the concepts that they have already mastered. This builds a sense of community and develops leadership skills that can be used for life.

Studies have shown that children in Montessori classrooms are more likely to have a positive view of school and more confident in their abilities than kids who go to conventional schools. This is not just because of the absence of grades, high-stakes tests and competitive pressure, but also because of the way that the Montessori curriculum encourages a flexible mindset and a love of inquiry.

Guidepost Montessori offers more than 120 brick & mortar, homeschool and virtual schools with a holistic learning philosophy that fosters creativity and independence in kids of all ages. Learn more about our Montessori programs by booking a tour today.