Why should parents and guardians understand the Montessori philosophy?
Knowing why something is offered, and understanding the intention behind a work plan, classroom material or design, or how a child is being guided is imperative to a successful Montessori school experience.
Parents may feel puzzled about what students are doing in the classroom, particularly if they aren’t familiar with Montessori materials and philosophy. When parents educate themselves on the Montessori experience, it makes us a stronger community and allows teachers and guides to focus their energy on our children’s academic, social, and emotional development. Keep your eyes open for opportunities, such as Parent Education Workshops and Watch Me Work days, to learn more about materials, lessons, developmental stages and curriculum planning.
What is intrinsic motivation?
The most powerful education comes from when students are intrinsically motivated, where students learn and explore to satisfy their own innate curiosity. Compass Montessori classrooms create an environment where students can be driven by what inspires them. When students take ownership of their educational experience, they meet their own fundamental needs and values; the act of learning improves and becomes more enjoyable.
Research shows that grades, classroom demands, and other external factors can actually inhibit learning. When students rely on rewards (such as grades or class ranking) or act solely to avoid punishments, they can lose their sense of curiosity. Students who are motivated intrinsically, however, learn better and more deeply, and are likely to stay engaged when they are allowed the space and freedom to explore. If learning and education are connected to personal goals or interests, rather than external pressure or rewards, students tend to stay inquisitive and will continue to learn long after grading periods and tests are complete.
An excellent article about intrinsic motivation in the classroom was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education.
What is Grace and Courtesy?
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.
One of the most important Grace and Courtesy Lessons involves solving a disagreement. Teachers guide students to state their observations about the incident, their feelings about it, and their needs to reach a resolution. This begins as early as Children’s House; parents might also hear it called the “Peace Process.” This very important lesson teaches students how to resolve conflict calmly and safely.
Children need to know and understand social norms to be at ease in their environment. Grace and Courtesy lessons provide vocabulary, actions, and steps for students to heighten their awareness of those around them, and encourages students above all else to be kind.
Who is Maria Montessori?
Maria Montessori was born on August 31, 1870, in Chiaravalle, Italy to an official of the Ministry of Finance and a well-educated, well-read mother who acted as a mentor and encouraged Maria’s continuing education. At 13, Maria entered an all-boys technical secondary, then attended a technical institute, and graduated in 1890 with a certificate in physics-mathematics. At this point, she switched to medicine and ultimately graduated in 1896 as one of Italy’s first female physicians. She developed an interest in education when she was appointed co-director of an institute for training special education teachers.
Intrigued by this experience and her observations, Maria began developing her own educational philosophy and method, creating an environment designed just for children. She used child-sized furniture, designed easily manipulated materials, and expanded practical activities and life skills so children could learn to take care of themselves, each other, and their environment. By working with purpose, autonomy, uninterrupted work time, and freedom of movement, the children began exhibiting increased concentration, attention, and spontaneous self-discipline. By 1910, Montessori schools could be found around the world; the first Montessori school in the U.S. opened in 1911 in Tarrytown, NY.
Maria continued to develop her pedagogy by introducing the model of universal, innate characteristics in human psychology and the four Planes of Development: birth to six years, six to twelve, twelve to eighteen, and eighteen to twenty-four. She isolated different characteristics, learning modes, and developmental imperatives in each of these planes, and called for unique educational approaches for each one. Teachers and guides were trained as observers and directors of their students’ innate psychology development.
Maria Montessori also wrote numerous books, including The Montessori Method, The Absorbent Mind, and The Secret of Childhood. Her method of education stresses the importance of self-initiative and abilities as discovered through practical play, and the progression of knowledge and intuition from concrete, tactile experiences into making connections, imagination, and abstract concepts.
Stay tuned for more parent education here, coming soon!
Other resources below:
Videos - Montessori Philosophy
You Might be a Montessorian TedTalk by Katy Wright here.
Montessori Madness here.
Montessori Parenting here.
Stamp Game Introduction here.
Review of Long Division here.