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Frequently Asked Questions


Montessori Education



What is it?


This system of education is both a philosophy of child growth and a rationale for guiding such growth. It is based on the child's developmental needs exposure to materials and experiences through which to develop intelligence as well as physical and psychological abilities. It is designed to take full advantage of capabilities. The child needs adults to expose him/her to the possibilities of his/her life but the child himself/herself must direct his/her response to those possibilities. Premises of Montessori education are:
  • Children are to be respected as different from adults, and as individuals who differ from each other.
  • The child possesses unusual sensitivity and mental powers for absorbing and learning from his/her environment that are unlike those of the adult both in quality and capacity.
  • The most important years of growth are the first six years of life when unconscious learning is gradually brought to the conscious level.
  • The child has a deep love and need for purposeful work. He/she works, however, not as an adult for profit and completion of a job, but for the sake of the activity itself. It is this activity which accomplishes for him/her his/her most important goal: the development of himself/herself his/her mental, physical, and psychological powers.



Is it for all children?


The Montessori system has been used successfully with children between ages two and half and eighteen from all socioeconomic levels, representing those in regular classes as well as gifted, retarded, emotionally disturbed, and physically handicapped. Because of its individual approach, it is uniquely suited to public education, where children of many backgrounds are grouped together. It is also appropriate for classes in which the student teacher ratio is high because children learn at an early age to work independently.



Is the child free to do what he/she chooses in the classroom?


The child is free to move about the classroom at will, to talk to other children, to work with any equipment whose purpose he/she understand, or to ask the teacher to introduce new material to him/her. He/she is not free to disturb other children at work or to abuse the equipment that is so important to his development.



What does the directress do?


The directress works with individual children, introduces materials, and gives guidance where needed. One of her primary tasks is careful observation of each child in order to determine his/her needs and to gain the knowledge she needs in preparing the environment to aid his/her growth. Her method of teaching is indirect in that she neither imposes upon the child as in direct teaching nor abandons him/her as a non-directive, permissive approach. Rather, she is constantly alert to the direction in which the child himself/herself has indicated he/she wishes to go and she actively seeks ways to help him/her to accomplish his/her goals.



What does it do for the child?


The goals of Montessori for children are several: it encourages self-discipline, self-knowledge, and independence, as well as enthusiasm for learning, an organized approach to problem solving, and academic skills.



What happens when children go from a Montessori class to a traditional class?


Most children appear to adjust readily to new classroom situations. In all likelihood this is because they have developed self-discipline and independence in the Montessori environment.




From: Montessori: A Modern Approach by Paula Lillard
Montessori for Modern Minds * Willowbrook, IL * 60527 * USA * Phone: (630) 325-0083