Montessori education is a child-centered approach to learning that fundamentally believes children are instinctively keen learners who, when immersed in engaging and interesting environments, have the ability to learn and discover seemingly entirely on their own! In Montessori classrooms, teachers observe children, and based on these observations, make adjustments to the environment in order to meet each child’s individual interests and learning styles. Montessori children learn through play, are free to discover their own interests and passions, and are given the tools to pursue these interests independently- laying the foundations for becoming happy and fulfilled adults with a lifelong love of learning.
Montessori moves the focus from “what” children learn (content based learning) to “how” they learn (process based learning), and it is because of this that children from Montessori schools are not only academic high performers but they are also collaborative, empathetic, and self-driven.
“THE MOST IMPORTANT PERIOD OF LIFE IS NOT THE AGE OF UNIVERSITY STUDIES, BUT THE FIRST ONE, THE PERIOD FROM BIRTH TO THE AGE OF SIX. FOR THAT IS THE TIME WHEN MAN’S INTELLIGENCE ITSELF, HIS GREATEST IMPLEMENT, IS BEING FORMED.” ~ MARIA MONTESSORI
What is Montessori?
Montessori is a philosophy and approach to learning that was created by Dr. Maria Montessori over one hundred years ago in Rome, Italy. The Montessori approach is founded on the belief that all children are inherently good, peaceful, and intrinsically motivated, and that these innate characteristics must be nurtured by the adults and by the environment surrounding the child. As an authentic Montessori school, Philly Montessori holds these foundational characteristics:
Montessori Certified Teachers
Maria Montessori was one of the first people in the field of early childhood education to advocate for specialized teacher training. Today, a Montessori-certified teacher typically undergoes at least a full year of specialized training in a Montessori-accredited training center, followed by a year of supervised internship in a Montessori classroom.
Montessori training centers not only train teachers in the traditional sense, but also focus on the “spiritual preparation” of the teacher. As such, trained Montessori teachers consistently follow principles of self-reflection, mindfulness, and intentional practice.
Self Correcting Materials
The Montessori materials have been scientifically designed to incite children’s innate curiosity, engage them, and give them a sense of independence and self confidence as they learn by doing. We call these materials “self-correcting,” because they have been designed to make it obvious to the child whether the activity has been completed properly. For example, a set of nesting boxes has been completed when there are no extra boxes; if there is an extra box that doesn’t fit, the child can tell that they need to make a correction without needing someone else to point it out. This is a simple example to depict how the self-correcting materials work. The Montessori self-correcting materials are specially designed to allow children to uncover a range of topics- from simple concepts such as size, to advanced concepts such as addition, fractions, square roots, reading, and writing to only name a few!
These self-correcting materials create what is essentially an individualized learning plan for every child in the classroom. Instead of teaching one subject to twenty children at once, a Montessori teacher carefully observes the children in her classroom so that she understands each child’s individual learning style and interests. Then she gently guides each child to the materials in the classroom that will speak to the child’s interests, needs, and strengths at that time. Following the ever-changing nature of the individual child, learning plans are dynamic, flexible, and meet the needs of the whole child—body, mind, and spirit.
Three Hour Uninterrupted Work Cycle
Unlike many preschool environments, we offer large blocks of time for children to explore and interact with their environment and peers. This reduces the number of transitions in the day, and allows for children to meet their individual needs at their individual pace.
During the course of a work cycle, a child may work independently or with their peers, enjoy lessons with their teachers, have a snack with a friend, spend time in the garden, or cozy up with a good book—all on their own schedule. By providing three-hour cycles of uninterrupted work we allow children to engage in periods of deep concentration, which brings feelings of peace, joy, and contentment.
Mixed age classrooms
Mixed-age classrooms encourage peer-to-peer learning and inquiry: older children have the opportunity to teach their younger classmates, and younger classmates have the opportunity to learn directly from their peers. For the older children, this not only reinforces understanding, but also fills them with a sense of pride and accomplishment. For younger children, this develops an ability to ask questions and seek knowledge from their peers (and to share knowledge as they acquire it).
Montessori mixed-age classrooms remove feelings of competition and comparison that are so prevalent in traditional classrooms. Instead, children learn that we all learn in different ways and at different paces.
Carefully Designed Prepared Environment
Our unique prepared environment, or classroom, is thoughtfully designed with the Montessori principles of beauty, simplicity, and movement in mind. Our expansive 1400 square foot, sun-drenched classroom allows for peaceful learning and exploration through purposeful movement. When possible, our materials are sustainable and locally sourced. Our classroom is complete with the self-didactic materials that are so unique and universal to every authentic Montessori classroom around the world.
Each year, our teachers carefully design the prepared environment to meet the needs and interests of each individual child, and classroom collective that we serve. As such, with inclusivity and diversity in mind, our classroom is not a static “one size fits all space”, but rather a dynamic organism that evolves with the ever changing seasons, individuals, and cultures that make up our classroom collective.
The Philly Montessori classroom extends beyond the indoors to a beautiful urban garden; wherein, children are invited to care for our city garden, explore their senses through art and natural sensory play, or simply relax and enjoy a delicious snack outdoors! On rainy or cold days when we are not able to visit the nearby park, or go on an outdoor excursion, our students enjoy free gross motor play in an indoor gym complete with climbing structures, riding toys, and imaginative play.