Essential Qualities of Montessori Education
Those involved in the self-evaluation and consultation should observe the following five essential qualities of Montessori education:
1. The Montessori Learning Environment
- A Child-Centred Environment
The focus of activity in the Montessori setting is on the child’s learning, not on the teacher’s teaching. There should be individual and small group lessons, with some opportunity for whole group activity.
- A Responsive, Prepared, Adaptive Environment
An environment responsive to the child’s emergent needs is one designed for their interests, abilities and potential. It is both prepared in advance of the children’s entry into it, and continues to be responsive to the children’s needs and evolving interests, as well as their changing circumstances. Nurturing is a critical aspect of the Toddler environment.
- Individual Competence
Within a Montessori setting, children strive to realize their own potential, and are provided with
opportunities for problem solving and mastering their own skills at their own pace.
2. The Montessori Learning Relationships
- Mixed Age Groupings
In order to respond to the diversity of individual children’s developmental needs, classes in the Casa and Elementary programmes group children across a three-year age span. Toddler programmes may have a one year age span in order to comply with Ministry guidelines and/or the individual school’s programming.
- Social Settings as a Community
Learning with and from each other to develop the social skills that form a class community. The social setting is like that of an extended family. The emergent skills of the individual
children come together to form the class community.
- Co-operation and Collaboration
Children are encouraged to respect and support one another in their learning, and with their daily needs and experiences. Learning is a social process.
3. Montessori Learning Activity
The children explore and learn independently and construct “values” through social interaction.
- Hands-On Experience with Materials
In the Toddler programme, children learn by acting on their environments. In Casa and Elementary, children learn by actively working with the concrete materials that lead to abstract concepts.
- Spontaneous Activity
Children spontaneously seek growth and development because it is in their nature to do so. The Montessori environment provides a setting in which children can explore, discover, and learn independently and with others.
- Active Learning Methods
The Montessori environment is one in which children are actively engaged in their learning. They initiate their work and are encouraged to follow it through to completion. Movement with purpose and control is central to learning in Casa and Elementary.
- Self-Directed Activity
Children construct their own intelligence, choosing their own activities, fuelled by the need for competence. In Casa and Elementary, concentration and engagement are enhanced by choosing their own activities from a carefully prepared curriculum.
- Freedom within Limits
Freedom is given and earned.The freedom to choose their own activity comes with the
responsibility to choose appropriately.Increasing levels of self-discipline and self-regulation
are expected in Casa and Elementary.
- Intrinsic Motivation
The desire for learning comes from within the individual child.This drive toward competence is
fuelled by the child’s curiosity and interest.The child’s self-initiated activity and mastery is
considered its own reward.
4. What the Montessori Teacher Is
The teacher models the behaviours, values, and personal qualities, which reflect the essence of a Montessori classroom. They present intentionally and consistently, their best self to the children.
The teacher responds empathetically to the children’s feelings and needs, while firmly establishing limits for the group.
The teacher is capable of observing, reflecting and planning for each child’s progress.
The teacher is the guide to whom children may turn for help, in all areas of their development.
5. What the Montessori Teacher Does
- Prepares the Environment
The teacher creates and facilitates a sense of order, attractiveness and nurtures a joy of learning.
- Respectfully Engages the Learner
The teacher links the child to the environment, being aware of their cognitive and moral development, and the need to create a class community.
- Parent Partnership
The teacher establishes the communication that builds the trust and respect between home and school.