The Montessori Method was invented in Italy by Dr. Maria Montessori in the early 1900’s.
Although it was first applied to education, known as the “Montessori Education”, it has grown to become an approach to raising children inside the home as well.
In short, the Montessori Method provides children with a prepared environment where each element exists for a reason in order to help the development of the child.
The adult is an observer and a guide who allows the child to act, want and think on their own – helping to develop confidence, independence, and inner discipline.
The Easiest Way To Explain The Montessori Method
The Montessori Method is a way to provide the child with a path to become independent and capable.
Here’s a great Montessori quote by Maren Schmidt from her book Understanding Montessori:
The young child asks us to “help me help myself”. Our children are born with a vibrant urge to become independent and capable. Montessori education (and life approach) is designed to help children help themselves by developing independence and concentration.Maren Schmidt (Understanding Montessori)
On the education side of things, the teacher is there more of a guide and observer, allowing the child to teach themselves lessons that interest them.
At home with little ones and toddlers, the parents are encouraged to promote independence by allowing their children to self-care for themselves, help around the house, and be apart of the family.
When I was first introduced to a child of Montessori parents I remember saying “she’s like a mini adult”. The funny thing about it? The toddler was 2 years old.
She was helping to prepare her own meals, cleaning after herself, and even getting dressed on her own.
Children want to learn and want to become independent, and to me, the Montessori Method is a way to help children help themselves learn.
Frequently Asked Montessori Questions
In a traditional classroom, the teacher generally stands at the front of the classroom, decides what the children need to learn, and teaches the children a lesson.
With the Montessori approach to education, the teacher provides a prepared environment with many lessons and the children are more in charge of their own learning (supported by the teacher).
Within the traditional educational curriculum, there is a “one size fits all” approach, that says all of these children are ready to learn, for example, counting to ten on the same day.
Whereas the Montessori Method allows each child to create a custom course of study through self-selected activities so that they can learn to count to ten when they are ready.
(This isn’t a “free for all” though – they are guided by a trained Montessori teacher in a carefully designed learning environment.)
Personally, I think this makes a lot more sense – especially for the younger years of schooling. Kids can be in such different stages of learning at young ages. Having a teacher give the same lesson to all students in the classroom just doesn’t make sense.
The last major difference I will point out between traditional schooling and Montessori schooling is that the Montessori approach includes a lot more hands-on activities.
All lessons include some type of hands-on material to learn with, as Dr. Montessori says “the child’s intelligence can develop to a certain level without the help of hand. But if it develops with his hand, then the level it reaches is higher, and the child’s character is stronger.”
As mentioned earlier in this article, the Montessori Method was originally known as the Montessori Education because it was designed for schooling, but it has grown into an all-around approach to raising children.
You can incorporate the Montessori approach at home by providing simple toys/activities that help your child learn, involving them in your everyday life activities (preparing food, washing dishes, cleaning, etc), and promoting independence by allowing them to practice physical self-care (dressing themselves, making wardrobe choices, etc).