The Montessori classroom is unique in many ways when compared to the public classroom (and some private schools). The Montessori Method was developed by Maria Montessori over a century ago to educate children who were considered unteachable. She had beliefs about how students best learn, and she applied those beliefs to her experience with those children. Montessori had astonishing results with that group of children and went on to fully develop a philosophy of education that is still applied today in classrooms all over the world – the Montessori Method. The unique elements of the Montessori classroom attract many families who are looking for more than a ‘typical’ education for their children.
When you walk into a Montessori classroom, you will not see rows of desks taking up the entire room full of children listening quietly to the teacher at the front. Instead, you will likely find students scattered throughout the classroom engaged in individual or small group activities. The Montessori classroom has a student-centered design. Everything in the classroom is easily accessible to students. They can move around and have access to a wide variety of learning tools. The teacher is an active participant in the learning process by providing assistance, instruction, and explanation as needed. This design makes the Montessori classroom unique, especially when compared to the public classroom.
Students have a say in what and how they learn
Another unique factor about the Montessori classroom is the fact that students have a say in what and how they learn. The Montessori philosophy of education posits that students learn best when they have an interest in what and how they are learning. When students are active participants in the learning process, it is not difficult to get them to focus or stay engaged. The small size of the Montessori classroom allows the teacher to recognize the interests and preferences of each student. The teacher uses that information to create individualized learning plans and provide students with learning opportunities that align with their interests.
Mixed ages in the classroom
The mixed-age design of the Montessori classroom is different than the traditional model of grouping children by age. This unique feature allows students to practice interacting with others outside of their immediate age group. Also, the older students get the opportunity to learn through teaching (helping younger students) and the younger students get to learn by the example of their older peers.
These are just three examples of the unique elements you can expect to find in the Montessori classroom. There are many more that you will discover if you choose to observe a class. When you observe a class, you will get to see in person all of the elements that make the Montessori classroom a unique and special place.