The whole child approach
The primary goal of a Montessori program is to help each child reach his/her full potential in all areas of life. Activities promote the development of social skills, emotional growth and physical coordination as well as cognitive preparation for future intellectual academic endeavors. The holistic curriculum, under the direction of a qualified teacher, allows the child to experience the joy of learning and gives him/her time to enjoy the process . It ensures the development of self esteem and provides the experiences from which children create their knowledge.
The Prepared environment
In order for self directed learning to take place, the learning environment (the classroom, materials and social setting, including an atmosphere where concentration is possible) must be supportive of the child and contain everything s(he) needs for development. A professional Montessori teacher understands the needs of the children in her care and ensures that age appropriate materials are present, maintains high-quality, organized and cleanly classroom and teaches ways of interacting with the environment that foster peacefull focus. A Montessori classroom makes children feel secure and has rules that promote a sense of respect for each individual.
The Montessori materials
Dr. Montessori’s observations of the kinds of things which children enjoy and go back to repeatedly, led her to design a number of multi-sensory, sequential and self correcting materials to facilitate learning.
Originally called a “directress”, the Montessori teacher functions as a designer of the environment, resource person, role model, demonstrator, record-keeper and meticulous observer of each child’s behavior and growth. The teacher’s main function, once the classroom has been set up, is to engage each child with the materials in that classroom. Extensive training is required for full Montessori certification, including a minimum of college degree and a year’s student teaching under supervision. It is specialized for the age group with which a teacher will work.