At the very heart of Montessori education is the firm belief that children are naturally driven to learn.
Montessori is an international teaching method used for more than 100 years in countries around the world based on the philosophy and research of Italian physician Dr. Maria Montessori. Research shows that children who receive a Montessori education excel not only academically, but socially as well. Montessori teaches independence, problem-solving, responsibility, social graces, and good citizenship. More importantly, Montessori honors and cultivates each child’s natural love of learning.
What make Montessori different?
- Work at Own Pace – A Montessori student works at her own pace with an educational program specifically tailored to her. She is given freedom within boundaries to make many of her own choices and given time to focus her attention on what interests her to flame her love of learning.
- Teachers as Guides – Teachers serve as guides to help stimulate the self-motivation of the student, trying not to interfere with the student’s natural desire to discover for himself. This fosters curiosity, independence and ultimately a life-long love of learning.
- Prepared Environment – A Montessori classroom is specifically set in order for self-directed learning using materials specifically designed to be self-correcting. This allows students to come to the answer themselves without having to rely on a teacher to correct their work. Much of the work at the lower grades occurs on small mats on the floor where children work individually or in small groups. As the children grow older, desks are more common. The space is broken up into smaller areas by the placement of low bookcases and other materials that create an element of privacy yet permit the teacher to observe all areas of the room. Additionally, students will be excused to work on specific projects in the hall area and sometimes outside. These areas are visible from the classroom. A Montessori classroom is in an environment where beauty and orderliness are emphasized and appreciated.
- Mixed-age Classrooms – Montessori classes place children in three-year age groups (lower elementary is 1st – 3rd grades, upper elementary is 4th – 6th grades), forming a strong sense of community. Older children spontaneously share their knowledge with younger ones, which reinforces their lessons and allows them to serve as role models and leaders in the classroom. Children love to learn from one another and are receptive to learning lessons from their peers, so the younger students thrive from the the stimulation of older children. In a mixed-age class, children can find peers who are working at their current level. The age range also allows especially gifted children the stimulation of intellectual peers, without requiring that they skip a grade or feel emotionally out of place. Because teachers normally work with each child for three years, they get to know their students’ strengths and weaknesses, interests, and personalities extremely well.
- Global Perspective Encouraging Peace – The study of diverse cultures, respect for human rights, and stewardship of the environment are at the heart of a Montessori education. Living through several wars, Dr. Montessori’s development of the Montessori teaching method sprung from her conviction that peace was the ultimate goal of humanity. She was a champion of peace and civil rights and was nominated several times for the Nobel Peace Prize.
SC Leading the Nation
South Carolina is a national leader of public Montessori, with over 5,000 children attending 44 programs around the state. It was the first state in the nation to develop a strong, working alliance of leaders in public and private Montessori programs thanks to former SC Superintendent of Education, Dr. Jim Rex, who was an ardent supporter of public school choice in general and public Montessori in particular.