We were not intimately familiar with Montessori education prior to starting our son with Montessori One at 18 months of age, but we have been fully converted into Montessori method enthusiasts. Our son and daughter have both attended Montessori ONE since they could walk and their development academically and socially has pleasantly shocked our entire family. Our kindergartner is working with fractions and division and reading at a second grade level. Our 4 year old is reading and practicing writing and working with different math "works". What is truly amazing to us is that they are not single, standout students; all of their peers in their classrooms are also excelling at this level. It truly shows the power of the Montessori way of educating young children. Even more important than the incredible academic success that they've had is that they truly love coming to school and they both feel like they are a part of a community in their classrooms and the school as a whole.
- A. Bower
The environment is of the utmost importance in an authentic Montessori school. It is designed to meet the needs, abilities, interests, and development of children in each class. With a flexible environmental model, modification can be made to the classroom’s physical layout to best meets the children’s needs. Lessons, or “Work”, are taught with child-friendly materials in a hands-on approach resulting in the right mix of play and discovery. We call this the “prepared environment”.
An integral part of the environment is the community that resides within. Montessori Method builds a “family” unit within each class. As with most families, there is a range of ages that interact. This is also the case in Montessori classrooms where mixed age groupings allow older students to assist younger students and younger students can observe and learn from their older classmates. Children remain together for several years, with fully-developed students moving on to the next age grouping when they demonstrate readiness to do so. Children learn at their own pace and students are not compared against one another.
Under the guidance of Montessori-trained educators, children are offered freedom within limits. They can select from “work” presented to them by the instructor. “Work” consists of a variety of hands-on learning activities designed to foster interest, self-motivation, and self-discipline. Educators work closely with students over the course of weeks and sometimes months to develop their mastery of the lessons and evaluate their readiness for the next.
Montessori Method also encourages the development of “Universal Values”. Educators focus on the development of appropriate patterns of polite behavior and instilling basic universal values within the core of the child’s personality. These values include self-respect, acceptance of the uniqueness of different people, kindness, compassion, peacefulness, honor, and individual responsibility. Children are encouraged to treat one another with kindness and respect. Insults and aggressive behaviors tend to be rare and will not be accepted.