What is Montessori Education and How Do I Start?

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Wooden block toys that spell out the word

Have you heard about Montessori education and wonder if the program may be the right fit for your child? This early education method has been taught to many successful people, including the founders of Google and Amazon.

Montessori education is a teaching method that encourages children to gain independence and develop their critical thinking skills. Keep reading to learn about this successful approach to educating children.

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What Is Montessori Education?

The Montessori educational program is a teaching method that focuses on a child’s independence and natural desire to learn. Dr. Maria Montessori developed it; an Italian physician focused on child development in the early 1900s.  

The Montessori educational approach has several distinct features:

  • The child chooses the activity. 
  • Children learn by working with materials, such as blocks, instead of receiving direct instruction.
  • Children of different ages learn together.
  • Children have access to materials and tools that are the right size for them. These materials include chairs and tables and other learning tools that fit them correctly.
  • The child’s learning environment is organized by subject, and options are accessible at their eye level.
  • Children get large blocks of time to explore and learn at their own pace.

Montessori education starts with the belief that children are natural learners. The belief is that when they are exposed to the right learning environments, they will learn through their actions.

A Hands-On Approach

Montessori education is all about interacting with the environment. Custom learning materials each teach a single concept or skill. 

Let’s look at one example. Picture a small wooden box with a drawer. It’s just the right size for a three-year-old’s hands. 

There is also a small wooden ball. Again, it’s just the right size for a three-year-old to grab. 

The box has a round hole in the top. You guessed it: it’s just the right size for the ball to fit. 

A child who plays with this toy is likely to drop the ball through the hole. The ball is then inside the box. When the child pulls out the drawer, the ball is visible again. 

The child is learning about object permanence while they are playing. They’re learning through their vision and their sense of touch. And they’re having fun while they do it!

Children Can Learn So Much From Other Children

young girls watering seedlings in reuse eggshells montessori education

Children are not segregated by grade in a Montessori program. Preschool-aged children and kindergarteners learn together. While children from ages six to nine are taught together in the classroom. 

The mixed-age classroom allows kids to learn at their own pace without stressing about staying within a narrow curriculum. Older kids benefit from reinforcing ideas, while younger kids can take in advanced topics when they’re ready.

The activities of other children can reinforce memory and understanding for your little student. Reinforcement works in a couple of ways:

  • Your child has the opportunity to see the cause and effect of activity from several angles and distances. Additionally, they are able to put their hands on the materials so that they are learning directly. 
  • Your child will be in a position to help other students with a topic they understand well. Teaching others helps children remember and understand the details much better than studying independently.

A mixed classroom is a natural environment for children to interact and work together. Children are drawn to one another to form peer groups. Has your little one ever run-up to a child on the playground and asked to be friends? 

A teacher/guide will often teach a lesson to a small group based on their readiness and interest. If they educate children based on age alone, it forces a subject on some who aren’t ready for it. And it denies the opportunity to learn to other kids who might benefit.

How Do You Find A Montessori Program?

Montessori spelled out in round wooden blocks

Many schools claim to follow the Montessori curriculum. If you want the real deal, check for accreditation with the American Montessori Society

The AMS provides training, accreditation, and advocacy for Montessori education programs throughout the US. 

Can You Practice Montessori At Home?

Little girl watering a plant with a spray bottle

Circumstances might make sending your child to a Montessori program impractical. But you can still incorporate some methods at home.

Some options to incorporate Montessori education into your home environment:

  • Designate a cabinet in your kitchen exclusively for your little person. Pack it with snacks they can choose from, dedicated child-friendly plates, and utensils that fit perfectly in their little hands.
  • Provide them with Montessori-friendly toys and activities. Lovevery is a quarterly subscription box that delivers Montessori-inspired toys right to your door. Each package is catered specifically to your child’s age (13-36 months), so it takes the guesswork out of shopping. Use this special Twin Cities Kids Club link to sign up to start receiving your Lovevery boxes today!
  • Let them wrap presents. If your holiday traditions include exchanging gifts, your kids will love getting their hands on the paper and tape. If their friend has a birthday coming up, allow them to wrap the present, and they’ll surely be proud to deliver it to their buddy.
  • Store their clothing where they can easily reach it and make their own selections. Consider lowering a closet rod to their height and eye level. When doing this, be sure to give them a few seasonally appropriate options. Instead of ten shirts, have three available instead, so they won’t feel overwhelmed.
  • Keep choices of activities stored at your child’s eye level, and let your child choose what to play for the day. You can rotate options every couple of weeks. 
  • Let them have a plant to take care of at home. Teach your child how to see if it needs water. You can give her a watering can and show how it works. Let her fill it at the sink and water her leafy friend. Keep a towel nearby in case of any spills!
  • Make sure all their things have places to be stored. When your child knows where things belong, you may encourage them to take care of their belongings by putting them back in their proper area. 

Montessori education can happen anywhere. Focus on giving your child options and time to explore their environment thoroughly.

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