A method of schooling that focuses on personal development rather than exams produces more mature, creative and socially adept children, scientists have found.
- Psychologists in the US found that across a range of abilities, children at Montessori schools out-performed those given a traditional education.
- Five-year-old Montessori pupils were better prepared for reading and maths, and 12-year-olds wrote “significantly more creative” essays using more sophisticated sentence structures.
- Some of the biggest differences were seen in social skills and behaviour.
- Montessori children displayed a greater sense of “justice and fairness”, interacted in an “emotionally positive” way, and were less likely to engage in “rough play” during break times.
- The schooling system was invented in the early 1900s by Maria Montessori to educate poor children in her native Italy.
- There are more than 5,000 Montessori schools in the US, and around 600 in the UK, where they are privately funded.
- The method discourages traditional competitive measurements of achievement, such as grades and tests, and instead focuses on the individual progress and development of each child.
- Below are some characteristics and benefits of the Montessori method:
- Three year age span of children within the classroom – Older children teaching younger children, sense of community and builds self esteem
- Self correcting materials within the environment – Children learn through their own errors to make the correct decision versus having the teacher point it out to them
- Individual learning takes place within the environment – Montessori recognizes that each child learns at a different pace and allows that growth to take place
- Children are quiet by choice and out of respect for others within the environment – The Montessori classroom allows children to return to the “inner peace” that is a natural part of their personalities
- There is an emphasis on concrete learning rather than on abstract learning – Children need to experience concepts in concrete “hands-on” ways
- It is a child-centered environment – All the materials are easily within the child’s reach and placed on shelves at their levels. The tables and chairs are small enough for the children to sit comfortably while the pictures and decorations are placed at the children’s eye level
- The children work for the joy of working and the sense of discovery – Children are natural leaders or “sponges” and delight in learning new tasks. Their interests lie in the work itself rather than in the end product
- The environment provides a natural sense of discipline – The “ground rules” or expectations of the child are clearly stated and are enforced by the children and the teachers
- The environment is “prepared” for the children – Everything in the room has a specific place on the shelf. Children are orderly by nature and having the room set this way allows them to grow in a very positive way
- The teacher plays a very unobtrusive role in the classroom – The children are not motivated by the teacher, but by the need for self development
At JSS we advocate a mix of traditional as well as Montessori method of teaching in the pre-primary section in order to get the benefits of both.