Elementary Montessori programs are designed around the core tenets of the Montessori Method. The unique features that come with this design provide students with an educational experience that they will not get in a traditional public school program. Three of the unique features you will find in an elementary Montessori program include a prepared environment, an emphasis on self-directed learning, and a mixed-age classroom.
The ‘prepared environment’ is a term that Maria Montessori used to describe the Montessori classroom. The teacher in the Montessori classroom carefully observes each student. This observation allows the teacher to determine what each student needs. As the teacher learns about each child, she starts to tailor or ‘prepare’ the classroom environment to meet those individual needs. When students walk into a prepared environment they are presented with a variety of learning activities to choose from that are both age and developmentally appropriate. This unique feature of elementary Montessori programs sets them apart from the typical public classroom.
Emphasis on self-directed learning
In the Montessori classroom, students can have a say in what and how they learn. Self-directed learning is a unique feature of elementary Montessori programs. The teacher prepares the environment and students choose from those prepared activities. This design puts some of the responsibility for learning in the hands of the child. This emphasis on self-directed learning is a unique feature of Montessori education that helps students develop into life-long learners.
Another unique feature of elementary Montessori programs is that the classrooms are mixed-age. For example, you may find students that range in age from 6-9 in the same classroom. The mixed-age classroom provides opportunities for students to learn through their interactions with each other. Older students are allowed to learn by helping younger students. They can practice explaining concepts they have learned in simplified terms, and help cement the concepts for older students. The younger children can learn from older students by observing their interactions with others.
An elementary program that is carefully designed around the Montessori philosophy of education can provide your child with a unique environment in which to learn. The prepared environment of the Montessori classroom is designed to meet the educational needs of each student. Emphasis on self-directed learning helps students develop into lifelong learners. And, the mixed-age design of the classroom provides additional opportunities for learning. These unique features – along with many others – are all important parts of an elementary Montessori program. You can learn more about what makes Montessori education unique from the resources in the FMS parent library. If you are ready for the next step in the process of exploring Montessori education, you can schedule a time to observe a class and see for yourself what makes the program unique.