Want Your Children To Reach Their Fullest Potential? – The Montessori Method


Montessori Picture

Montessori Materials: I'd go for the pink tower!

Every parent wants their kids to be the best they can be in life, and hopefully even be happy in the process! Well what if there was a way for children to achieve their fullest potential at their own pace, without the constant pressure to achieve the highest grades and outdo everybody else?

The Montessori Method does just that:

  • Children learn at their own individual pace and according to their own choice of activities from hundreds of possibilities. Adults serve as observers or guides, adapting the learning environment to the child’s own development level.
  • There are no text books or adult-directed group lessons and daily schedule. Children learn either 1 on 1 with an adult, or may even be taught by another child.
  • Children are segregated by activity, not by age. Montessori children can be as young as 2 months of age, or even attending high school.

The results? Montessori children score well on standardised tests, and are well prepared for later life academically, socially and emotionally. Click here if you’d like scientific evidence.

Maria Montessori

On the other hand, there are concerns that:

  • The Montessori Method does not present many opportunities for pretend play, that children needed to play, I would provide the proper apparatus; but I am not so persuaded’.
  • In addition, Montessori children are usually so engrossed in their tasks that there is limited interaction between one another, much less any sense of cooperation.

You can discuss these concerns in the comments section below.

Montessori Picture 2

More Montessori Materials

Before you run off to check out your nearest Montessori School, please note: For a facility to truly be a Montessori School, teachers should be properly trained and adept at the Montessori Method, while a full range of Montessori Materials should be available. Having a few Montessori trained teachers and some Montessori Materials does NOT count. I stress this because a lot of new places proudly declare themselves to be Montessori Schools, yet fail to fully meet the standards. Knowing how to make a few McNuggets does NOT make you Ronald McDonald.

If you’re interested in learning more, feel free to contact me at marklim81@gmail.com. Meanwhile, here are 2 of my favourite sites on the Montessori Method:

And here’s the most popular Montessori video on Youtube:

If you found this article helpful, please share it with others by clicking the share button below or emailing them the link! Then join the discussions in the comments section, and have a look at other Early Years Education methods such as homeschooling and Schemas.

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22 responses to this post.

  1. im definitely checking this out… to me, less stress to the child is better 🙂 i recently bought a book on this subject, hoping to be able to teach my child, without having to send her to school so early yet.

    Reply

  2. homeschool until 3 or 4 years old hopefully hahaa…can it be still called homeschool? okok, still reading.

    Reply

  3. And you’re going to start now?

    Wow, early start. Then can compare results with Jenny. =-P

    Reply

  4. Posted by Audrey Lee on 25 September, 2009 at 3:58 am

    Montessori is no doubt a very sound method for ECE. But I think we should look at historical perspective on why Dr Montessori developed her method/approach. She saw so much destruction and many children being left on their own (aftermath of war) that she decided to extent her method (which was initially designed for children with biological impairments) to those children on the street. And the rest is history… Her method works during her time. Our time and her time is very different – with globalisation, internet, techonology advancements – our children need to be equip with different set of knowledge. Plus our children’s environment is also different now compared to her time. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that we should not use her method, what I am saying is that we need to incorporate more creativity into our teaching. This is the current need?

    Reply

    • There’s a lot of interest here in the UK on developing creativity in children. Malaysia is still slowly shifting from the mentality of just focusing on academics, to promoting children’s emotional well-being.

      I think you make a very valid point on the Montessori Method. It has its benefits, but it is a dated system. Wouldn’t it be great to have Montessori 2.0, where they update it to be more fitting to the current environment, as well as addressing some of its shortfalls.

      Reply

      • Posted by Audrey Lee on 25 September, 2009 at 3:10 pm

        Yes, I think practitioners (‘pure’ montessorians) must be practical and look at the current needs of our children. A Montessori 2.0 wld be great. I can think of no one but Lee Havis of IMS Montessori (USA) who is trying to do just that. He has incorporated some changes (although some of his ideas are not new – a matter of rephrasing) to the Montessori method to make it more applicable to the current needs of children of which ‘pure’ montessorians might object. He was in KL last June for the Intl Montessori Convention. Check out his website http://imsmontessori.org/

        Reply

  5. Thanks for sharing Audrey, there’s a video of the June convention in Malaysia there.

    http://imsmontessori.org/malaysia-international-montessori-convention-2009-video.htm

    Lee Havis looks like a typical old guy…from his bio on teaching in the Peace Corps, I thought he’d be like Bruce Willis. 🙂

    Reply

  6. So has Lee Havis made much progress in forming, as well as promoting Montessori 2.0?

    I can understand why “pure” Montessorians would object to any changes in the system. In fact anybody who’s been following any kind of system for several years will be reluctant to change.

    “I’ve been doing it for so many years, and it’s always worked fine, so there’s nothing wrong with it and there’s no reason I should change.” I wouldn’t be surprised if 10 out of 10 people who’ve been doing their job for more than 10 years said that.

    Reply

  7. There is a lot of misunderstanding when it comes to Montessori, fantasy, and creativity. I think our biggest problem is that today our words for fantasy and creativity are almost synonyms, where as in her day the words she used in Italian meant very different things. For Dr. Montessori and her contemporaries “fantasy” was more what we would consider “not focusing” today. While “creativity” was creating something new. She believed that the ability to create something new came from having knowledge and understanding of the way things worked. Hence why she focused on fostering knowledge.

    Additionally, to be more specific, many of her comments on creativity were on Frobel’s activities in his kindergarten classrooms. Frobel, another early educator of her time and the founder of the kindergarten, believed that children should understand nature and the world around them. In Frobel’s kindergarten was guided fantasy play. Children acted out things like being farmers, sowing seeds, watching them bloom, reaping them, and then enjoying the fruits of their reaping. Montessori agreed that children should know how farms worked, how plants grew, and how we enjoyed the plants that grew, but she felt the lesson(s) would have more impact leading to better understanding if the children actually planted seeds, watched them grow, reaped them, and enjoyed the results of their labor. Hence, her focus on reality as opposed to fantasy.

    As far as things like up to date technology in the classroom, there are two Montessori camps, the AMI Montessorians who believe in having the classroom EXACTLY like they were in Montessori’s day, and AMS Montessorians who believe in updating the classroom to reflect the needs and technology of today. I will state here, that I am definitely an AMS Montessorian. I believe that since Dr. Montessori believed in using the cutting edge of technology in her day, she would believe in Montessori classrooms of today using our cutting edge technology. For example, at the moment, my second and third graders are researching historical people using the internet as well as books. They will then write a biography on the person, make a PowerPoint presentation to go along with their report, and then near Halloween (Halloween is on a weekend this year), they will all present their reports dressed as the person they are reporting on, projecting their PowerPoints behind them on a large screen.

    “Human consciousness comes into the world as a flaming ball of imagination. Everything invented by human beings, physical or mental, is the fruit of someone’s imagination. In the study of history and geography we are helpless without imagination, and when we propose to introduce the universe to the child, what but the imagination can be of use to us? I consider it a crime to present such subjects as may be noble and creative aids to the imaginative faculty in such a manner as to deny its use, and on the other hand to require children to memorize that which they have not been able to visualize….. The secret of good teaching is to regard the children’s intelligence as a fertile field in which seeds may be sown, to grow under the heat of flaming imagination. Our aim therefore is not merely to make the children understand, and still less to force them to memorize, but so to touch their imagination as to enthuse them to their inmost core. We do not want complacent pupils but eager ones; we seek to sow life in children rather than theories, to help them in their growth, mental and emotional as well as physical.” Dr. Maria Montessori

    Reply

  8. I have a friend who lend me this book on Montessori methods but after going through the book, I still don’t get much out of it. Too technical (more for the practitioner) and I guess not the right time for me then (just delivered 2 mths prior to borrowing the book)

    Reply

  9. What? I’m just starting to get the hang of preparing Ben’s homemade solids… and now u tell me I should start to be obsessive with his personal development?!! Gaaaaaaaaa…..

    Reply

    • When you say “homemade solids”, are you referring to preparing his food, or his own “finished product”? =-P

      I thought all parents already obsess about whether their child will achieve even before the child is born? ^_^

      Reply

  10. “Play is the highest level of child development…It gives…joy, freedom, contentment, inner and outer rest, peace with the world…The plays of childhood are the germinal leaves of all later life.” (Froebel)

    Although I agree with many of the comments here and am a supporter of the Montessori method (my three year old is in a Montessori school) I often worry about the lack of play-based learning practices in the classroom. In order to develop a dynamic and capable future, we need to invest in our children today. We need to prepare them in ways to be able to exist and thrive in an unknown future. I believe that play-based learning encourages children to engage in higher-level thinking, socialization, and reflection.
    http://kindercaring.blogspot.com/

    Reply

  11. finally, I could find your article once more. You have few useful tips for my school project. This time, I won’t forget to bookmark it. 🙂

    Reply

  12. Posted by Monica on 30 January, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    I’ll admit I’m a fan of the Montessori approach. I have a son who is not yet 3, and we have enjoyed implementing these practices in our home. Since I don’t know how my son would be if we didn’t create a Montessori home environment, I can’t say what the impact has been, but I can say that we have a peaceful home with a little boy who is quite happy and helpful around the house. (I’ve seen him accidentally spill a drink, find his bowl of sponges, and clean up the spill. The look on his face after he cleaned up all by himself was priceless.)

    The creativity argument is an interesting one, and those who have read Dr. Montessori’s “The Absorbent Mind” will recall that Dr. Montessori’s first Children’s House had dolls and dollhouses which were donated by local wealthy families upon hearing about the success of this school in the slums. With the choice between dolls and “work,” the children selected “work.” Of course, “work” to a child is different than “work” to an adult, but my understanding is that the sorts of tasks the children were doing allowed them to pretend they were grownups (“Playing house” is still a popular activity). Is this the same as imagining different worlds or superpowers? Maybe for some.

    I have visited an AMI Montessori school, and the children seemed to interact with each other more than I know they are allowed in a traditional school (in which I’ve heard on many occasions how “You’re not here to socialize!”). In this Montessori school, I saw children working independently, but also a fair amount working side by side on separate tasks, as well as children collaborating on tasks together. The director pointed out two students and noted that while the one was a good year younger than the other, she was a bit stronger in the activity the two were doing than the older student. I noticed the older student consult the younger one at times, and it was beautiful to see the collaboration.

    There were beautiful works of art throughout the classroom (hung at eye-level for the students of course!), as well as a piano and a stage. Recess was loud and full of energy. There is circle time as well as yoga. This is just my opinion, of course, but I think “play” (as well as “work”) can be very different activities to children than to adults. My husband shakes his head at me because I can spend hours upon hours reading about different educational methods. To him, I’m doing “work” and he wonders how I’m not tired of reading about all this. For me, I could stay awake all night reading because my brain is loving the stimulation. I learn something and try to see where else I can apply it. This is one of my creative outlets and one aspect of play for me (definitely not to others!). Of course, we can all adjust our definitions to make anything sound good. 😉

    (Btw, I just found your blog this morning and am really enjoying what I’ve seen so far! I’ve added you to my Google Reader and am looking forward to more posts!)

    Reply

    • Hi Monica! 🙂

      Glad you enjoyed reading, and thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts!

      I’m pretty sure you can safely say the impact on your son has been a positive one. 😉

      Yes, the concept of work/play can be rather subjective, especially when it comes to children. One man’s wine, and all that. 🙂

      Maybe you’d like to tell your husband about the concept of “flow’, by Csíkszentmihályi:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_(psychology)

      Regards
      Mark

      Reply

      • Posted by Monica on 30 January, 2010 at 10:15 pm

        Hi Mark 🙂

        Yikes! I didn’t realize how long my post would appear! Thank you for reading through it!

        My husband definitely has his own “flow” subjects; early childhood education just isn’t one of them. 😀 Nonetheless, I bookmarked that link to save for a few relatives…

        I’m really enjoying the topics you’ve selected– if I comment further, I’ll try to keep the word count to a minimum!!

        Monica

        Reply

  13. Posted by BRUNO-cHUKWU CHIMEZIE on 13 April, 2011 at 9:49 am

    I am a fan of Montessori keep me posted of any imformation on how to use it for my son that is two years old. Thanks

    Reply

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