What is the difference between Montessori and traditional method of teaching?
In Montessori schools the child is seen as a dynamic learner, full of creative potential and in need of the maximum possible freedom to be allowed to develop as a happy, confident individual. Montessori schools therefore place emphasis on the importance of process. In more traditional schools, children are seen to be in need of more active instruction and control from adults - there is less trust in the child's own inner abilities and more emphasis on ensuring very defined results. So Montessori schools are learner-centred, whereas traditional schools tend to be more teacher-centred.
What curriculum do we use?
We follow the Montessori curriculum, which is a three year cycle to enable every child to work at his own pace. We constantly monitor what is expected of a child in an ordinary school at a similar level to make sure the children's work is on standard. We tend to introduce children to some concepts far earlier than in ordinary schools because of the specialised equipment we use. The aim is to present every concept in as concrete a way possible and gradually lead the child to full abstraction. It must be remembered that children are not fully able to abstract before their final year in primary school.
What about tests, how do you know the child is ready to move on?
Tests are written in our Montessori Primary School, but the emphasis is not placed on a mark but rather, "Do I know enough to move on or do I still need to work at this a bit more?" For this reason self-test cards are often used by the children on their own and they correct their own work. Work corrected by their teacher is discussed with the individual child or he may be directed to where he can find the correct answer. A child does not move on to new work until the teacher is satisfied that they have consolidated their knowledge.
What do we do with a 5 or 6 year old that is academically ready to move to Primary School, but who is still too young?
The advantage of the Montessori environment is that we always cater for the abilities of the individual child and are so able to carry on with reading, math and perceptual activities that will keep them growing academically as well as emotionally.
Is Montessori Education right for all children?
The Montessori system has been successfully utilised with children from the age of 2 ½ to 12 years old. It responds to the needs of children from all socio-economic backgrounds and caters to learners of varying intellectual abilities from gifted children to those of average intelligence. It is also appropriate for classes in which the student/teacher ratio is high, because the children learn at an early age to work independently.
Is the child free to do what he / she chooses in the classroom?
The child is free to move about the classroom at will, to talk to other children, to work with any equipment he or she understands, or to ask the teacher to introduce new material to her or him. The child is not free to disturb other children at work or to abuse the equipment which is crucial to the child's development.
What does the teacher do?
The teacher works with individual children, introducing materials and giving guidance where needed. A primary task is the careful observation of each child to gain the knowledge required to align the environment in accordance with the needs of each individual. This is an indirect method of teaching, as it neither imposes upon the child in direct teaching, nor abandons the child as in a non-directive permissive approach. Rather, the teacher is constantly alert to the direction in which the child has indicated he or she wishes to go, and as such actively works to help the child achieve his or her goals.
What happens when children go from a Montessori class to a traditional class?
Most children appear to adjust readily to new classroom situations. In all likelihood this is because they have developed a high degree of self-discipline and independance in the Montessori environment, and because of the adaptability of young children in general.
How can parents help at home?
To give the child the best opportunity for development, the Montessori principles and philosophy should be implemented in the home from birth. Parents need to read books as well as attend workshops, lectures and courses.