Montessori schools are fast spreading throughout India. If you are the parent of a toddler searching for play schools for your child, you would have seen Montessori schools in your neighbourhood. For those who are wondering what Montessori schools are all about, this post is for you! Read on to know more…
Montessori is a different approach to education. Montessori schools have no normal classrooms with teachers teaching children. Instead, they have classrooms where teaching aids are placed all around. Children are free to explore these teaching aids as they wish. These classrooms are similar to a home where children’s toys are spread around, and the child picks a toy as she pleases. The only difference is Montessori has specialised toys that help the child explore, observe and understand.
If children are free to do what they want.., and learn by themselves, what is the role of teachers in Montessori play schools?
Teachers are observers and guides. They monitor and observe every child’s progress. they help and guide children with their activities when the need arises. In Montessori play schools, teachers introduce different kinds of activities to children, and then let the child take it up as per his will.
Montessori classrooms group children based on their age. Unlike traditional schools, montessori schools follow a mix of ages. For example, children from age group of 3 to 6 can be grouped together. This is because, children in age group 3 to 6 have similar development milestones. Schools or Classrooms for children of this age group focus on activities like spooning, pouring to exploring textures, shapes to basic maths, language, music and art materials.
Children’s physical, mental and intellectual abilities grow in stages. Starting from birth to adolscent years, this growth happens in stages. These stages are commonly referred to as development milestones. Montessori teaching aids are designed based on these stages of development. For three year olds, their normal development milestones would be muscular co-ordination, speaking and sentence formation, Identifing clours, textures and shapes, first stage of counting, etc. Thus, teaching aids for montessori play schools focus on activities like spooning,pouring, stacking cups, staircase rods, color cards, texture cards, rhythm, beats, drawing and colouring.
Advantages of Montessori education when compared with traditional education is: Montessori encourages children to continue their exploration and creativity at school. It allows children to be free and learn at their pace. No peer pressure or schedules. It thrives by encouraging every child’s in-born urge to explore, discover and create.
How did Montessori system come into practise?
This method of education was first practised by an Italian physcian and educator named Maria Montessori. She started developing her education methods in 1897. She opened the first Montessori class room in Rome in 1907. It spread gradually, and finally reached the US in 1960 where it gained popularity. Thousands of schools in the US have adopted the Montessori methods of education. Since then, Montessori has spread to almost all countries and is widely seen throughout the world as a unique approach to eduction.
India was one of the early countries to adopt the Montessori method of education starting from 1939. Maria Montessori lived in India for a brief time with her son. During this time, she opened Montessori centres in Madras, Pune, Ahmedabad and Karachi. There are several legendary training institues in India that impart training on Montessori education. Montessori schools in India employ teachers trained in these prestigious institutions.
If you are interested in becoming a Montessori trained educationist, please check out India Montessori Centre and Indian Institue for Montessori Studies .
If you are a parent interested in Montessori education for your children, pay a visit to the nearest Montessori school. Montessori schools allow interested people to sit in as observers in their class rooms.
Image sources: The Growing Concern School, Montessori Tides School, The International Montessori Council.