Over 100 years ago in the San Lorenzo district of Rome, a brilliant scientist began her search for the keys to human learning. Maria Montessori’s approach to education was groundbreaking, as she brought the scientific method to the classroom and through years of tireless observation, experimentation, data collection, and planning Maria developed what eventually became the world-renowned educational approach known as the Montessori Method. Although its respect and prominence are unquestioned among education leaders across the globe it is still frequently misunderstood.
So as you explore Montessori and ultimately what’s best for your child we hope to help you understand what happens at Risen Lord Montessori by focusing on the five key guiding principles of our school:
To begin with, Montessori can be best described as child-centered education. All schools claim this, but it means something different in a Montessori School. It means the school itself was designed around the child. During worktimes (known as work cycles), teachers are not the focal point; they are quiet guides who learn in conjunction with the children allowing them to develop all aspects of their character- social, emotional and academic. Most childcare centers are focused on social development and preparing children for school. Risen Lord Montessori IS school. Students are taught cultural, math and language in conjunction with executive functions such as creativity and self-discipline while learning to socialize and interact peacefully. “Follow the child”; a popular Montessori quote means giving the child what guidance or freedom they need at that moment of their development.
Montessori observed that children need an academic environment that is safe, calming, secure and home-like to function at their highest level. The shelves are meticulously set up to serve in some ways as the curriculum for the children. Each area of the room represents a content area and the materials are leveled from left to right and top to bottom to allow a child to independently find their work, and return it when complete. At Risen Lord Montessori School the classroom itself becomes the most important educational tool.
The Prepared Classroom
You won’t find many worksheets and coloring pages in a Montessori classroom. Students spend the bulk of their time developing skills with simple and artistically created materials. Montessori observed what modern science has proven, that people learn through experience. So she meticulously designed Montessori materials so that as children interact with them they begin to create experiences that form a foundation that all later learning can build upon.
The Montessori classroom breaks the chains of traditional age-based education and frees children to learn and excel through multi-age classrooms and teachers trained in identifying a child’s readiness to learn. In a Montessori classroom, there are no limiting factors for children who are ready for acceleration or those who need remediation as there are in age-based programs. At Risen Lord, a child advanced at letter identification can move up to elementary levels, even though in counting they still need support. Age-based programs only offer one level of instruction and support leaving a gap where children may become frustrated or bored. The Montessori classroom is set up to address the social, emotional and academic needs of each individual child regardless of age or capabilities.
Experience over worksheets
Child Driven Learning
As neuroscience now supports for people of all ages, Montessori discovered that learning is not a linear process. Instead of learning things in “order” the mind moves in and out of periods of readiness; or sensitivity, where it enters an optimal level of openness to learn a particular concept or skill. A simple example is when your child suddenly became interested in walking and talking, nothing could stop them! Yet, all children begin walking and talking at different times. When age is not a limiting factor, you solve a major issue with traditional education. Instead of teachers simply presenting a turn-key curriculum to the whole class, Risen Lord's teachers identify through continuous observation the point when a child enters a sensitive period. Then with careful planning, the teacher maximizes the child’s development through one period into another with individually crafted lessons. A child is taught not according to a majority of their peers or to prewritten lesson plans, but to their own individual readiness to learn.