It is difficult to explain in words exactly what a Montessori classroom is like – it’s just easier to “feel” it by visiting a classroom. If you are unable to observe an actual classroom, take a look at these Montessori Guide videos created by the American Montessori International. They will give you a great introduction to the idea of Montessori philosophy at work.
Generally speaking, though, the Montessori philosophy embraces these ideas:
- fostering independence in a child
- developing a child’s intrinsic love of learning
- meeting children at their individual developmental levels
- developing the ‘whole child’ (physical, intellectual, social, and emotional components of a person)
- providing specific materials that focus on one skill and allow for self-checking
- using observation as a means of assessing children’s progress
While you are spending time in a Montessori classroom, look for children to be engaged in their work. You will see different types of groups of children around the classroom – some will be working independently, others may be working with a partner, while others may be in small groups. Children will be free to move about the classroom, putting materials away and choosing new activities as needed. The teacher will probably be working with a few children giving a lesson, or maybe even sitting and observing the room to see what children are doing and who might be ready for a lesson. Overall, the room will have a busy, yet peaceful hum.
I highly recommend visiting a Montessori classroom to see how the philosophy is implemented, because writing or reading about it just isn’t the same as experiencing it.
For further information, the American Montessori Society’s web site also provides resources if you are just learning about the Montessori philosophy.