How is Montessori different from traditional schools?
There are several ways the learning environments are different:
- Grace and courtesy are an integral part of Compass Montessori’s environment from the moment anyone steps into our school. Adults intentionally model grace and courtesy for the benefit of the entire community. For example, teachers greet students at the door with “Good morning,” a handshake, and a smile, and students are expected to respond in kind. Students learn social norms such as welcoming a visitor; ways to communicate their needs and feelings, such as kindly sharing materials; and how to interact in their communities in a productive and enriching way, such as cleaning up a common work space.
- Independent Learning Plans - Montessori guides (teachers) build a curriculum that meets each child where they are academically. Guides do not teach lessons to a whole classroom, but instead meet in small groups so the student’s work plan is specific to their level.
- Prepared Work Environments - Although Montessori classrooms do have tables for small groups to meet and discuss their work, we do not offer traditional desks. Freedom of movement and spreading work out on the floor is encouraged.
- The Work - Montessori work is completed in work cycles during the day, and we do not require homework in the traditional sense. Instead, students are expected to participate in Practical Life exercises at home such as helping with chores or preparing a meal. It’s important that children are encouraged to be a part of their communities, both at school and at home.
- Intrinsic Motivation - In a traditional classroom, children are given a lesson followed by an assignment to show proficiency. Typically, that work has a short term due date, and they move onto the next lesson the following week. In Montessori, students have a lesson, and then consider what they find intriguing. They then complete a “follow-up” of their own design to show their understanding of the concept. Students can explore their unique interests about the topic; this freedom builds intrinsic motivation and a genuine love of learning.