Montessori Method

Maria Montessori

Montessori pedagogy is the most suitable tool for us to fulfill our pedagogical values. The essence of Montessori philosophy is that the child discovers new things and learns through their own experience, at their own pace, while working with well-designed materials. They achieve a depth of understanding and thus gain more permanent knowledge.

The main idea is that the child learns best when they are interested in the process, they enjoy it and are encouraged when they find their inner motivation to learn. The Montessori theory of education and methodology has provided us with a well-thought-out system that has been successfully applied in many countries and schools around the world for over 100 years.

The story of Maria Montessori

In a Montessori system the teacher’s role is based on unobtrusive guidance and respectful help – skills that are well reflected in the famous motto of the Montessori philosophy: “Help me to do it myself”. Children always progress from the concrete to the abstract and use specially-designed materials for each area of study. These materials enable children to grasp new concepts more easily and contribute greatly to a deeper understanding and long-term retention of the new knowledge and experience gained.

Key words in Montessori education are: safety, respect, tranquility, peace, and love.

The difference between Montessori and traditional pedagogy

Traditional pedagogy Montessori method
Children of the same age Mixed age groups
The children usually sit at their desks in school Children can move around the class and work in different places individually or in a group
The teacher manages the children's activities Children manage their activities through a prepared environment, which supports their acceptance of their own responsibility for the learning process
Focused on the result, using tests and school grades Focused on the process, the use of formative assessment, without using marks and comparing children
The emphasis is on comparison and competitiveness The emphasis is on cooperation
Children learn in class, where they all work on the same subject and assignment at the same time Children learn in blocks of so-called uninterrupted Montessori cycles, connecting objects, children manage their activities and choose the work and time
Learning based on meeting the standard and outcomes of the grades Query and discovery based learning
The teacher gives instructions to the whole class or group of children on the basis of a predetermined curriculum and their growth is focused on the area and outcomes of the given year Teachers plan individual lessons, children use specific teaching materials independently, learn from each other and have the opportunity to grow based on their own potential

Principles of Montessori pedagogy

Learning through self-discovery

The learning process is based on a child’s self-discovery and his/her active approach to work which is encouraged by the child’s desire to know and his/her intrinsic need to learn and understand the world around him/her.

Montessori guides

The teacher guides the child through his/her learning process: he or she helps the child whenever needed, respects his/her individual pace of development, and proceeds in accordance with the child’s sensitive periods which reflect the child’s natural "readiness" to acquire certain knowledge and skills.

Prepared Environment

Both in terms of the materials and the teacher’s personality and human relationships (between the teacher and the children; among the children) is of essential importance for the learning process to be effective.

Freedom of Choicey

At a given time the child can choose his/her work, working space (within the classroom) and a person he/she wants to work with. However, the freedom of choice does not mean that the child moves from one activity to another without finishing it or that he/she does not work at all. The freedom does not imply that the child is left alone or that the teacher does not intervene in the child’s learning process at all. There is always an activity the child must choose to do. The teacher coordinates the activities of all children in the class and must use his or her professional skills to help each child, without commands and orders, to find an activity that the child will find interesting.

A child’s freedom is, of course, considered a responsibility, not an act of anarchy. This means that when a child decides to work on something, it is his/her obligation to complete this work. When the child wants to work with a material of his/her interest – and of their own choice - it is also his/her responsibility to adhere to the given rules.

Personal responsibility

The teacher lets the child choose freely from the given range of activities, but at the same time he or she helps the child to prioritize or to choose a preferred activity if the child cannot decide alone. The child is thus given the freedom of choice to the extent of his/her ability to assume responsibility. The teacher intervenes whenever he or she sees the child is bored, is not able to choose an activity or is breaking the rules. In addition, the teacher supports and helps children who need help. The teacher’s goal is to guide the child step by step towards a sense of their own responsibility.

Personal responsibility
Own responsibility

Polarization of Attention

Children look for an activity that appeals to them most, immerse themselves into it, and become totally engaged with it. The teacher allows them to continue with their work as long as they stay focused, he/she does not interrupt them and gives them enough time (In fact, all possible barriers which could hinder the process are eliminated from the school and the classrooms: e.g. the classes are not divided into particular lessons by the traditional sound of a “school bell” – instead, children are quite flexible in the use of their study time).

Control of Error

Children are not punished or negatively evaluated for making mistakes; they should rather view them as indicators of what still needs to be practiced or revised. The error is seen as a natural occurrence in the learning process, as a useful part of problem-solving, and as a rich source of new knowledge. The teachers should not use negative evaluation – instead, they should, for example, offer the child the same material again so that the child has the opportunity to understand his/her own mistakes and to self-correct them. All the materials are designed in a way that the child is always able to check his/her answers and to find and correct any possible mistake on his/her own -mistakes therefore help children in their further study.

Rewards and Praise

The relationship between an adult and a child in the Montessori system requires a loving approach of the adult (i.e. the teacher) to each child. The teachers try to use language in such a way that they can avoid any words of judgment but at the same time acknowledge the child and the new knowledge he/she has acquired, or show sympathy and concern. All children need to feel safe, secure and successful; they need to know they are being noticed, and they need to experience feelings of joy and satisfaction from their work. A continuous positive or negative evaluation from an adult, however, hinders the process of a free choice of activities and influences the child’s self-esteem. Our aim is for children to do what gives them a feeling of inner satisfaction. The child is appreciated only to such an extent that he/she does not become dependent on external praise. The child should feel self-satisfaction from the work he/she does; they do not do the work to meet the needs or wishes of an adult, to be praised or to get good grades (that is why our school only uses verbal evaluation). The praise is used mainly with new and insecure children to make them feel more safe and secure.

Working with praise

Peace and Tranquility

Children learn how to calm their body as well as their mind and use this state of calmness to focus on their work more deeply. In the classroom, all children (as well as teachers) are encouraged to express themselves as quietly as possible; when addressing someone, a child should behave in a way that he/she does not disturb the others, etc.

Mixed-Age Classes

In each class, children from 2 or 3 different grades work together (grades 1 to 3 and 4 to 5). The environment promotes collaboration and communication. Older children love to take care of the younger ones and to teach them – which is an activity that in turn improves their skills. In a class of children of the same age a child with a slight difference may feel out of place; in a mixed-age class, diversity becomes an advantage which also promotes the principle of no competition between children and provides each child with a safe and secure place for their individual development.