“Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.” – Maria Montessori.
Stoney Creek Montessori School was founded by parents whose children benefited greatly from the Montessori method. The first thing you will notice about traditional Montessori classrooms is the calm and compassionate environment.
These are the six main principles of the method, which lend to this environment:
- Following the Child
- Correcting the Child
- Prepared Environment
- Absorbent Mind.
Children thrive on feeling independent and theability to do things for themselves. This independence is achieved by giving children opportunities – to move, to dress themselves, to choose what they want to do, and to help adults with tasks. When children are allowed to do things for themselves, and allowed to learn from mistakes, there is an increase in their self-belief, self-confidence, and self-esteem, benefiting them now and throughout their life.
A Montessori director or directress (the “teacher”) spends hours watching children enjoying themselves and exploring their environment – without preconceived ideas of what each child should need or should be interested in.
3. Following The Child
When we observe the actions of a child, we are able to help them follow what their feel they need to do. If they feel the need to climb, we give them the opportunity to climb in a safe manner, without being over-protective.
Following the child also means being non-directive. We do not tell them what to do all the time. Within the framework of the classroom and playground, we give children the freedom to choose what they want or need to do and to act on their own. We assist by suggesting choices of different materials or toys and intervene only if safety is a concern.
Knowing when to intervene – or when not to – is a skill that parents and teachers learn as they get to know the child and as they set limits for the child.
4. Correcting The Child
Children make mistakes. They may spill a drink, drop food unintentionally, or build a tower that collapses before they are done!
We do not engage in finding blame, finger-pointing, or making children feel guilty. We also do not raise our voices with the children because correcting children harshly results in them being scared to attempt anything for fear of making another mistake.
Instead, we calmly recognize the mistake and suggest ways the child can respond – “Oh some water has been spilled – why don’t we get a cloth and wipe it up?” or “Was the base of the tower not strong enough, perhaps? Why don’t you try building it with a wider foundation?”
“Mistakes” become a wonderful opportunity for children to engage in practical work and learn constructive ways to respond. When empowered with a sense of helpfulness, children love to be part of the solution as they see it as something grown-ups do.
For example, a child who is learning how to drink from a glass will find out that if he tips the glass a bit too early, the water will spill on his clothes. We allow the child to make this mistake, as they soon learn to avoid making the mistake.
If children mispronounce a word, we do not correct them. Rather, when we respond, we use the word correctly in our sentence.
5. Prepared Environment
Our Montessori classrooms are child sized with a high proportion of natural materials and activities that allow freedom of movement and choice. It is a beautiful, clutter-free, organized and safe environment.
Montessori pedagogy refers to “work” as an activity the child does or what many people might call play because it is through this that they create and discover themselves. Their play is their work and it is engaging and enjoyable.
Our role as adults is to provide an environment in which such learning can thrive.
6. Absorbent Mind
Small children do not need to have formal lessons in order to learn. They absorb everything in the environment they are immersed in. This is why a healthy environment is so critical.
We are careful about what we say around the children, to one another, and to other children. Even if it seems they are not listening, they are absorbing the words we speak and the tones we speak in.