The Montessori classroom is a community of learners with the following characteristics: freedom, structure, authenticity, and student ownership.
First, children manage their own time, choose their own activities, and move freely about the classroom. However, they also must develop the maturity and independence needed to manage their time productively.
Second, while Montessori classrooms appear to be chaotic, there is an underlying structure supporting the bustling activity.
Third, real-world objects from the local environment are bought into the classroom and are used by the children in the same way they are used in society.
And finally, the Montessori learning community gives students ownership over their environment. They are responsible for managing their own time, for teaching each other, and for organizing and cleaning their classroom.
A Montessori classroom is a place of independence and responsibility. Accordingly, very little time is devoted to whole class instruction. Instead, teachers carefully design learning environments that contain centers of real-world activities that are uniquely suited to the children’s interests and developmental abilities. Students are free to engage in work at the centers at will; however, they are required to finish the projects they start and to return all materials to their proper place afterwards. As the children develop, they become responsible for more tasks, such as completing assignments on time, leaving the room unsupervised and teaching their younger classmates. Thus, there is a dual emphasis on increasing levels of independence and responsibility.
How is Montessori different than a typical public school program?
- The child is the focus of the Montessori classroom, not the teacher
- The child sets his/her own learning pace. Progress is not dictated by the averageprogress of the class or by school board timelines.
- Montessori learning materials are built around controls that signal to the childwhen he/she has mastered a subject or when more work is needed. This selfgoverning learning process removes any sense of failure or public shame a child might feel in a classroom where the teacher judges and ranks students against one another. There is no need to compete, only to achieve skills for one’s own sense of accomplishment.
- Direction from the teacher is only provided as needed. Beyond this the child isguided to work independently, thus developing the ability to learn effectively on his/her own.
- Montessori classrooms are not laid out with desks for student and teacher.
- The learning environment is carefully constructed of shelves with beautiful materials that the children can choose from throughout the day.