Developmental Perspectives - Dr. Ana Garcia Nevarez
The Montessori Method
Posted November 2nd 2013

According to the Montessori philosophy and mission, all children are born with special mental abilities which aid in the work of their own learning. This self-learning is developed as they explore their surroundings and their environment. Children are given the freedom to use their inborn mental abilities so that they can develop physically, spiritually, and intellectually. Montessori provides children with the freedom to explore their environments. The teacher presents a sense of order and self-discipline to supply certain environmental limits on this freedom.

The Montessori philosophy also emphasizes the importance of the development of sensory awareness. Children are taught to explore by using their senses. The curriculum is designed to develop consciousness of the senses through the use of specially prepared materials. These materials have become well known around the world and the notion of using these materials to teach children the Montessori skills and concepts has spread throughout the world (Standing, 1984; Watts, 2000).

In the Montessori schools, the teachersí role is of primary importance but his/her role is also very subtle (Watts, 2000). What seems to be of most importance is the childís environment because it serves as an educational tool from which children learn. The role of the child is to be an active explorer and it encourages the children to express themselves within their educational environment. It is important to note that the Montessori philosophy and mission will vary from school to state and country. Some schools may have modified their philosophy or evolved in a different direction where that perhaps they donít fit this description (Watts, 2000).

Reflect back on the Montessoriís approach to teaching and describe how this approach fits into your own ideas of teaching young children.

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Reply from Sia Xiong posted on February 27th 2014
For The Montessori Method is one of the strategy and theory that many other parents, teachers, and elders don't really put into use because in my community, we didn't have very strong and powerful leaders that can give this opprotunity to young children to explore because of poverty. Until now, I look back into it, my schools were actually home to me (Elmentary, middle, High school, and college) because my family, we're very disengaging and everyone find eachother different as times flies by. The older my siblings and I get, we all slowly drifted apart and my parents were never there besides picking up and dropping us off to school, they weren't doing a very good job on "guiding" us through out our education life. That's why when I read this blog, it made me realize that exploring is a very important factor that we have to give our children because we want the best environment for them to learn and discover. So if I was a teacher, I would definitely use The Montessori Method to provide my students opprotunites to explore their fun and to be able to identify themselves as a human being.
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Reply from Monica Ogaz posted on February 18th 2014
I truly believe that the Montesorri Method is a very uaeful developmental approach that should be used more often within the classroom. My own mother, my fist teacher used this approach in raising myself and my ten other siblings. Personally I.prefer to use the Montessori philosophy due to the fact that it allows the child to be in control of their own direction of learning, and with a supportive environment children feel safe enough to continue to explore and challenge themselves while, "working," on their projects. I believe that this method gives not only the.student's the ability to challenge themselves but teachers as well. Montessori Method opens up ideas for the teacher and helps the students to go above and beyond on their own terms. The teacher is able to give their students opportunities in learning, growing and developing.
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Reply from lay vang posted on December 16th 2013
I truly believe that children learn best when they explore their surroundings and their environment. As a teacher, you should try to provide opportunities in which children are equipped with the necessary tools to thrive and become successful students. As a teacher who truly cares about my students, I will devote the time and effort to implement the curriculums that tailors around each individual studentís skills and abilities. I want to be able to identify my studentís weaknesses and help them strengthen those skills and abilities. Every child learns differently. For example, some students are kinesthetic learners while others are visual learners. The role of a teacher should not be limited to what he or she can do, or what his or her job description is. It should be able trying to develop the whole child and doing everything he or she can do as a teacher to give the students opportunity to grow.
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Reply from Ellen Street posted on December 15th 2013
What I like about the Montessori approach is that it views the child as being naturally eager to learn. It views the child as being capable or initiating learning. Montessori teachers provide a supportive and thoughtfully prepared learning environment that encourages children to explore. Another aspect of the Montessori approach that I like and that aligns with my own ideas of teaching young children is that its approach values the development of the whole child- cognitive, emotional, social, and physical. I like that this approach to teaching fosters peer learning and uninterrupted periods of work time. I believe that children learn an incredible amount from their peers, and that allowing children to work on projects without being interrupted allows that child to control and regulate their own learning. It makes me sad when I see children working on a project and they are very engaged and involved in it, and then a teacher tells them that time is up and they have to stop working on their project. I feel that this is an unnecessary interruption to the childís processing and learning. I like that the Montessori approach allows for uninterrupted periods of work time and I apply this principle to my own methods of teaching young children.
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Reply from Yuga posted on December 15th 2013
I adore the principles of Montessori Philosophy. Having worked with children for few years, I do agree that children's innate talents are best nurtured when they are given the freedom to explore on their own. In this sense, Montessori settings are successful in treating every child as unique and special. Each child may have his own unique learning style, comfort level with certain ideas or methods and Montessori classrooms are always designed to meet children's needs and interests by creating a natural environment. That is why, as mentioned in the post, teacher's role is highly important. I find the focus on sensory awareness is also crucial to develop fine and gross motor skills. The research shows that it can have positive influence on social and emotional development of a child. I have a great respect for Maria Montessori for doing one of the pioneer works in the field of child education and the fact that her teachings are still epidemic in public and private schools speaks of her significant contribution to the society.
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Reply from sujey posted on December 12th 2013
In my opinion, the Montessori approach is an excellent philosophy. The distinguishing feature of the Montessori method is that children direct their own learning. In Montessori programs, the teacherís role is to provide the children with materials/tools and a healthy environment that promotes development. Allowing children the freedom to independently explore allows them to display their personal interests, and learn at their own pace. In addition, the Montessori philosophy encourages cooperative play and activities that enable children to use all five of their senses. As a professional, it is important to meet the studentís and intellectual needs and interests.
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Reply from Sebastian Zuniga posted on December 10th 2013
As we learned in CHDV 295 this semester, the composition of a student's physical learning space is critical to nurturing effective learning. Having dedicated classroom areas for play, art and recreation, for example, allow children to focus in on developing different developmental domains while still nurturing the whole child overall. I also believe that children learn together. Because of this, other students are also part of the learning environment. Allowing children to explore their environment means that they also get to explore each other. Exploring their environment together allows children to team up and learn things that they would not be able to learn alone. For these reasons, I love the Montessori approach to teaching. The resources to make it more prevalent are not available and that is unfortunate.
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Reply from danielle barham posted on December 4th 2013
I believe the Montessori Method is the best method, when it comes to learning. This method believes that the environment is the foundation to learning, growing socially, mentally, and physically. The children get to explore using their 5 SENCES to explore and learn. A safe and stress free environment helps children learn, grow, and bloom into their best potential possible. It is the teacherís responsibility to make sure the learning environment and materials are challenging enough for all the children. I think it is important for a Montessori teacher to be a great observer, and have skilled knowledge in order to provide the children with enriched learning materials. I like the idea that the children take charge of their own learning and also work together as a team to learn from each other. In Conventional schools children get gold stars and incentives to be good, and if they are not good, and get bad grades they are punished. In Montessori schools the rules are opposite children are not forced to learn and get good grades. Children get to learn at their own pace and focus on what they are naturally good at. I think this is a great way to help children with their self-esteem and develop their true passions in life, which makes learning fun and stress free. One thing I love about the method is that older students can help younger student learn and advance when ready to do so. I would love to open my own Montessori one day.
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Reply from Carly posted on November 23rd 2013
I believe that Montessori methods are fabulous for many children that have the opportunity to be in those programs. Fostering creativity and individuality in a child are powerful tools. Teachers are there to support children's learning and guide them which is optimal for learning and growth. However, I do not believe that the Montessori methods work for all children. Some kids need the discipline and structure that a traditional school provides. That being said, I have several friends and family members who are lucky enough to have their children enrolled in Montessori programs, and rave about them, and I will likely explore that method when I have my own children.
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Reply from oscar brambila posted on November 20th 2013
I believe Montessori methods are excellent because they focus on key developmental stages that allow children to honing on their developmental skills. I like that it encourages cooperative play so children are allowed to explore and guide the activities instead of the teachers.Curriculum is designed for their specific needs and abilities which allows them to learn at their own pace. Most of all i like that teachers "GUIDE" the child's learning experience rather than what it should be. Teachers take the lead from the children in the classroom. I believe this creates a positive environment in which the children are more comfortable. When i have children i will definitely put them in this type of school.
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Reply from oscar brambila posted on November 20th 2013
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Reply from Aisha Wahlstrom posted on November 20th 2013
Maria Montessori was, without any doubt, one of the influential theorists in the field of early childhood education/child development. Her approach philosophy of how children learn is indeed intriguing but like any other learning theory, there are variations on how it is applied from place to place (Watts 2000). As a professional in this field, I appreciate the importance placed on providing children with sensory material to enhance their learning. However, I think that an equal emphasis should be placed on social relationships and adults such as teachers can play a great role to facilitate and guide children's interactions just as much as they set the environment that promotes children's self exploration with sensory materials.
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Reply from Bryson Hamamura posted on November 19th 2013
I am very fond of Maria Montessoriís approach on child development. Her background in the sciences shows her inept understanding of a very effective approach to learning. The Montessori Method encompasses two main ideas: the need for freedom within limits, and an environments that is designed to take advantage of the childís desire to learn with their own unique capabilities. During my time at Sacramento City College I got to observe at a publicly funded elementary school whose teachers were Montessori accredited. It was interesting to see how this method was incorporated while still teaching standards and curriculum. One example I observed was that learning was done based on a studentsí interests. So for the kindergarten classroom if the subject was math students got to choose from different ways to learn math that day. Some wanted to use counters, others wanted to paint, and some were even allowed to go outside. By tapping into a childís interest they are more willing to succeed and learn. Another very different implementation was the idea of mixed grade. Unlike a split class, this school combines up too three different grades within a classroom. This fosters relationships and mentorship between students also a hallmark of this method. I think this approach to learning works! It allows for a wider range of types of learners to excel within a classroom. The idea of tailoring an environment to a childís needs seems like a no-brainer but it is something that is still not full accepted by educators. I hope to see the expansion of this method as the years progress. It is unfortunate to see children achieve so much in preschool and elementary school Montessori programs, only to get culture shocked when entering the very rigid world of high school.
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Reply from sara posted on November 18th 2013
Childrenís ability to explore their environment is important to their learning and development. Children are born with natural curiosities (like little scientists) that facilitate their understanding of their world. Iíve worked at a toddler center before where they used the Montessori Method and I must say it was fascinating to see how children came to understand how things work. This approach fits into my ideals of how children should learn at an early age. Teacherís role in the Montessori Method is to provide children with activities that enable them to use all five of their senses. Allowing children to educate themselves through exploration and several types of play is vital to this type of method. Although teachers allow their students freedom, they do so with limits. In this way, I believe teachers are setting appropriate boundaries to what children should learn, but how children go about it is up to them. I also believe that this type of method is designed to take full advantage of childrenís desire to learn.
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Reply from Amanda Huynh posted on November 17th 2013
The Montessori Method is a prime example of how children should be encouraged to explore their surroundings and develop their own sense of learning. I believe this method is critical in encouraging the development of self-understanding and acute awareness of surroundings in growing children. Children are young explorers and it is important for adults to provide an adapting and safe environment for them to explore. Safety of the environment is one of the most important aspects in all areas of learning Ė only with a safe environment are children most able to explore on their own. Although children are encouraged to learn and explore on their own, the teacherís role is also equally as important. Teachers, other than ensuring a safe environment for the children, are also tasked to set appropriate boundaries. As stated in this article, the Montessori Method is implemented with subtle differences in each school environment. As such, teachers are primed with the duty to align the classroom explorative environment with the schoolís standards and curriculum. For me, I would like to implement the Montessori Method into my teaching prospectus with young children, as I believe active exploration will nurture creative growth and also allow ample room for personal development. As stated in the article, however, I also do believe that setting appropriate boundaries and limits is also important, so as to ensure that the children are also viewing the teacher as a character role model in which to exemplify their own personal growth.
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Reply from Kathleen Wayland posted on November 14th 2013
I agree with Montessori that a childís learning environment should afford freedom of movement and exploration. Discovering for himself or herself via self-directed learning can be supported by an unobtrusive teacher who directs, yet allows the child to manipulate materials and work with others. I implemented child directed learning in my Sunday School room by preparing varied activities, an assortment of blocks, materials related to the story of the day, dramatic play area, and sensory tables (clay, paint, water, sand, wooden pieces, cardboard boxes, and tubes of all sizes). Children can use these tools to create their own story, re-create a familiar story, practice social-emotional development, and increase their language and cognitive skills. I further agree with Montessori in that children learn more when all senses are engaged in the activity of their choice. The activities can have a set curriculum with specific materials; yet children need to guide themselves through the activities in their own cognitive way. A good teacher will observe carefully and follow their lead. Through observation and analysis, the teacher can provide materials that an individual child needs at a particular learning moment. Additionally, I believe novel materials should be added to existing materials to discourage too much repetition and boredom as some children may become disruptive if they are not challenged with new activities. Unchallenged children often act out and their behavior could be unsettling to the remainder of the class. An observant, caring teacher knows his/her children individually and will provide what they need to learn at the right moment in their individual or collaborative exploration.
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Reply from Kathleen Wayland posted on November 14th 2013
I agree with Montessori that a childís learning environment should afford freedom of movement and exploration. Discovering for himself or herself via self-directed learning can be supported by an unobtrusive teacher who directs, yet allows the child to manipulate materials and work with others. I implemented child directed learning in my Sunday School room by preparing varied activities, an assortment of blocks, materials related to the story of the day, dramatic play area, and sensory tables (clay, paint, water, sand, wooden pieces, cardboard boxes, and tubes of all sizes). Children can use these tools to create their own story, re-create a familiar story, practice social-emotional development, and increase their language and cognitive skills. I further agree with Montessori in that children learn more when all senses are engaged in the activity of their choice. The activities can have a set curriculum with specific materials; yet children need to guide themselves through the activities in their own cognitive way. A good teacher will observe carefully and follow their lead. Through observation and analysis, the teacher can provide materials that an individual child needs at a particular learning moment. Additionally, I believe novel materials should be added to existing materials to discourage too much repetition and boredom as some children may become disruptive if they are not challenged with new activities. Unchallenged children often act out and their behavior could be unsettling to the remainder of the class. An observant, caring teacher knows his/her children individually and will provide what they need to learn at the right moment in their individual or collaborative exploration.
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Reply from Irina Kalyuta posted on November 7th 2013
I support the idea that when the environment is safe and comfortable, that is where children can learn and develop. I think that the Montessori philosophy has influenced a lot of parents and children specifically by providing that safe environment in order for them to learn and develop. When the environment is set up in a way that provides an opportunity for children to learn, learning will happen and children will explore the environment to get a better idea of how things work.
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Reply from Angie Sales posted on November 6th 2013
What I really enjoy about the Montessori Method is that although children are free to explore using their senses, teachers play such a critical role in creating a learning environment that allows children to explore. I have heard of school in San Francisco who's mission statement is aligned with the Montessori Method. One of the examples I observed is that children are free to dress how they please to school. At this preschool, during a rainy day, a child wanted to run in the rain with just a t-shirt and shorts, when asked why, the child explained how the touch of rain made him feel. His description and explanation was so detailed and rich that I could not believe that this child was in preschool. It was great, I definitely understand the theoretical foundations of this method and believe that if teachers provide a developmentally appropriate environnment, that children can learn so much.
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Reply from Kacie posted on November 4th 2013
Children can only truly learn in a safe, comfortable, and stress-free environment. The Montessori philosophy speaks personally to me because I feel that the classroom environment is crucial to a child's learning and development. This is especially true for early childhood classrooms where the children are actively learning and developing as they play and use their senses. By allowing the child to actively explore their environment, they will be able to develop in their own unique way and be able to explore what appeals to them personally. Classroom environments that are set up in this fashion set the children up to learn, develop, and succeed. This is a very important teaching method that should be included in all classrooms because the children are learning in the best possible way for them, which is what matters.
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Reply from Rosita Villarreal posted on November 3rd 2013
The teacher is an important part of the classroom, she is calm and quietly directs the children, she is the facilitator while the children move around their environment making choices about which items are needed as in washing clothes or cutting oranges. I enjoy working in the Montessori school because there is so much construction going on in the part of the child. You can see and feel the cognitive and physical movement of the child. One of the most important developmental concerns of educators is the socialization of the child. In the Montessori school I have learned that children are teaching each other. I have the privilege to see this daily. When a student asks me to help tie his apron my response is to \"ask a friend\" in this way the children work together and gain knowledge from one another. I believe that this is an important teaching method because the children are learning how to cooperate and respect one another. Our preschools would benefit from this method of teaching our young, we should implement this philosophy no matter the cost.
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Reply from Jennifer Travis posted on November 2nd 2013
I am a total advocate for the importance of the classroom environment and how influential it is to the learning the children experience. Considering the constructivist theory of learning I set up my classroom to encourage and activate exploring. Children learn from that hands on, stress free, open-ended process associated with playing in well developed centers. The role of the teacher as being subtle also fits into my own ideas. If the classroom is set up well, and the activities are intentional, then the environment is another teacher in the classroom!
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