The number of Montessori schools around the world has been growing very fast over the last few years. France has not been an exception and has experienced a similar boom with a dozen new schools opening every year across the country, as more and more parents are looking for alternative educational methods for their children.
What are the fundamental principles of Montessori education?
The Montessori method was developed in the early twentieth century by Maria Montessori, an Italian physician, from empirical observation of hundreds of children. The method is based on simple principles: every child is a unique person with creative potential, the drive to learn and the right to be treated with respect as an individual. Children are profoundly affected by their immediate surroundings, this is why it is important to prepare an environment in harmony with the child’s natural development.
A Montessori environment allows children to progress at their own pace, due to spending three years in each learning cycle. Montessori education promotes co-operation; older children helping the younger ones spontaneously thus reinforcing their own learning, and the younger ones making bigger progress with the help of the older children.
Free choice of activities
Children choose their own material. It gives them the drive and motivation to work, to develop persistence and the ability to work for themselves, rather than because of the external authority or rewards (grades etc.).
A full set of Montessori materials
Maria Montessori scientifically developed hundreds of materials which were designed to materialize abstract concepts in order to aid the development of the child.
Montessori material is self-correcting. This allows the child to make corrections without waiting for solutions to come from outside, thus developing autonomy and problem solving skills without fear of judgement that could undermine confidence.
Long enough time for an individual activity
One of the objectives of Montessori education is to develop the child’s ability to concentrate. This is why children have about two and a half hour long working cycles in the morning and in the afternoon to ensure that the work of a concentrated child is not interrupted. This objective goes hand in hand with another important principle of the Montessori education which is movement. In a Montessori classroom children can freely move around, taking the material from the shelves, putting it back, then going for another one.