What is the Montessori Philosophy and How Does it Work in Education?

Have you heard the term Montessori bandied around and wondered what it is all about?

What sets the Montessori educational philosophy apart from other styles of preschool learning?

Read on to find out all about what the Montessori philosophy is, where it comes from and how it works.

Where does the Montessori philosophy come from?

The Montessori method has developed from the work of Dr Maria Montessori in Italy in the early 20th Century.

She educated children from poor families in San Lorenzo Rome in the early 1900s, and developed a method of teaching that viewed children as children, not just as small adults.

Turning away from traditional methods of grading, testing and formal learning, Montessori encouraged children to develop their natural talents, while also working to strengthen their apparent weaknesses.

In 1907, Maria founded the first Montessori school in Rome with the purpose of giving four to seven year old children from low-income families a full-day educational programme.

The idea quickly developed and grew in popularity, with schools opening around the world.

What is the Montessori method all about?

Montessori believed that children learn best in an environment that has been prepared to enable them to do things for themselves.

The home and classroom should be child-centred, a genuine learning environment designed to promote freedom for children to explore materials of their choice to aid learning.

The Montessori method emphasises children learning about natural laws, so the teacher is required to control the environment, rather than the child.

It was observed that children who are left free to interact with their environment developed an innate self-discipline, a love for order and a natural curiosity which helps them to learn.

So it's all about finding ways for children to participate in the everyday cleaning, washing. cooking, gardening and other essential activities.

Giving children access to appropriately sized equipment like this cleaning set allows them to get involved in these 'adult' activities and sets the perfect backdrop for the learning experience.

Children can learn so much from participating in everyday activities and exploring their environment, such as how to teach science in your backyard.

And by providing these opportunities for independence, your child’s self-esteem also gets a huge boost.

In this way the Montessori method is particularly suitable to the preschooler who wants to do everything by him or her self!

What are the principles of the Montessori philosophy?

Montessori emphasises self-directed learning and freedom within limits to encourage independence.

This is acheived through respect for a child's natural psychological, physical, and social development.

Maria Montessori observed that children learn best when they are free to move, free to choose their own work and free to follow their own particular interests.

In the Montessori classroom, artistic, cultural and scientific activities are king.

Materials are carefully selected, with an emphasis on natural materials, and there is no computer or screen-time learning.

As I mentioned above, the Montessori method focuses on the child’s natural ability to learn from his surroundings and his innate curiosity.

The child is never forced to learn, to work or to explore, but instead is encouraged to do things that interest him.

The teacher observes and picks up teaching points from the interests and cues given by the child.

When the child understands why he needs to learn something, he will love the learning process.

What does Montessori homeschool look like?

The joy of Montessori is that it is a whole life philosophy that can begin at birth, so many families choose to set up their whole home to incorporate Montessori principles.

Create a beautiful environment with toys and resources appropriate to the Montessori method and your child will have a happy, healthy start from the earliest age.

Beyond the rich environment, each child learns at their own pace.

Indeed, the most wonderful thing about Montessori homeschooling is that it focuses on each child's interests and individual needs, rather than any pre-set needs or expectations for any age group or class.

The parent's role is to guide rather than to lecture, and it is important to encourage children to maintain their natural joy in learning about the world around them.

Through this method of homeschooling, children are encouraged to be independent, and are given extensive freedoms.

However, there are some set limits and responsibilities that come with that freedom so the family and home can work in harmony.

The entire approach used in the Montessori home schooling method hinges on the belief that children learn in an entirely different way to adults.

Lessons are structured to each child’s needs, and the natural way that they learn to give children the best advantage.

Montessori Method Lessons

The Montessori method proposes that a child never be given an activity or taught a skill without being shown how it is of use to them.

Arbitrary knowledge without real world application is of no use.

Each child is encouraged to apply their knowledge without limits or set expectations.

The teacher (parent) should ensure safety, of course, but by allowing a child free reign they can explore and develop their knowledge.

After a brief demonstration of the activity, the child should be given free reign to use his newly acquired knowledge without limits, other than their own imagination.

In planning learning, each activity is carefully selected to pave the way for later activities and concepts.

Children are encouraged to repeat an activity as many times as they want to before moving on to the next activity.

The speed of learning is entirely dependent on each individual child, however, there is a set sequence of learning activities that are used for lessons.

Using their unique teaching methods, Montessori students have demonstrated a consistently high level of reading comprehension and academic performance.

This is perhaps because of the highly individualised nature of the program and the lack of rushing academic progress.

There is an equal emphasis on the arts, maths, science, language, nature study and life skills to give the child a well-rounded education.

The Montessori program also gives children lots of opportunity for free play both indoors and out.

Students also have the freedom to move about, stand, or even lie on the ground while working on their lessons in the classroom.

In all ways the child drives the educational experience.

Each child's interests and abilities determine their unique educational program and so his lessons may overlap but are not identical to those of his classmates.

This makes him a more eager and motivated student.

Whether you want to use the Montessori philosophy in your homeschool or look for an organised school program to enrol your child in, the many advantages of Montesssori will give your child a well-rounded education and instil a lifelong love of learning.

More Montessori ideas:

Pin it:

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on one of these links and make a purchase, I may receive a commission for referring you. This in no way affects the price you pay. I only suggest resources and items I believe in and highly recommend. You can read my full disclosure statement on our Work with Me page.