“The child’s way is like that of the first tribesman to wander over the earth… The instinct to move about, to pass from one discovery to another, is a part of their nature, and it must also form a part of their education.” – Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind
The Montessori method includes the use of a wide range of specially designed teaching materials which form part of a “prepared environment,” to enable children to learn individually, at their own pace, in a non-competitive atmosphere.
The basic Montessori concepts as follows:
- The teacher must pay attention to the child, rather than the child paying attention to the teacher.
- The child proceeds at his/her own pace in an environment controlled to provide means of learning.
- Imaginative teaching materials are the heart of the process.
- Each of them is self-correcting, thus enabling the child to proceed at his own pace and see his own mistakes.
The Montessori Classroom
Montessori materials are designed to be attractive to children and stimulate their interest in learning. Among the best known are the golden bead material. Young children learn to use these to understand abstract mathematical concepts, such as adding, subtracting and multiplying.
Montessori classes, including those at BMS, usually consist of 30-48 children with 3-4 teachers who work in mixed age groups. This arrangement provides a flexible social environment and encourages both shared learning and independent growth. Children find peers within a three-year age span, and are able to develop social relationships at their own pace.
More experienced children are encouraged to assist less experienced children in classroom activities. This creates an atmosphere of respectful generosity and cooperation that children find satisfying.
In Montessori classrooms children are free to:
- move purposefully around the classroom;
- talk to and work with other children;
- work with materials whose purpose they understand;
- work on their own educationally relevant projects; or
- ask a teacher to introduce new material.
They are not free to:
- disturb other children at work, or
- abuse the environment that is so important to their development.
The Role of the Teacher
“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… At no other age has the child greater need of intelligent help, and any obstacle that impedes his creative work will lessen the chance he has of achieving perfection.” — Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind
The Montessori Teacher
The teacher’s role in the Montessori classroom is less directive than is customary in traditional schools. The Montessori classroom is organized around the needs of the children. Dr. Montessori observed that children have a natural interest in learning, and as they grow they pass through “sensitive periods” when they are capable of acquiring a particular skill or knowledge.
Our teachers are specially trained to become expert observers of children so they understand the developmental needs of their students. The teacher’s role is that of guide, observer, and caretaker of the prepared environment.
The teacher is the child’s link to the environment. The teacher carefully prepares the environment by providing stimulating objects and by removing obstacles to learning. Typically a teacher will give a lesson to an individual child or to a small group, and then step back to allow the child to pursue the work independently.
The teacher will continue to observe the child to help overcome difficulties and redirect the child’s interest when necessary. A professionally trained and certified Montessori teacher heads each one of our six classrooms. Each Lead Teacher has one to three assistants.
The teacher:student ratio is no more than 10:1 for preschool and 11:1 for elementary, enabling the teacher to become well acquainted with each child’s learning and development.
Parents & Montessori
“We recommend BMS wholeheartedly and believe it provides the best education in our area. Both of our children have attended BMS for 12 years, from the youngest preschool level through 6th grade. The teachers at BMS have nurtured in them a love of learning that will last throughout their lifetimes. Our family agrees that BMS has instilled self-confidence, creativity, and leadership skills in both our children.
The smaller student to teacher ratios at BMS, as compared to public schools, had made an obvious difference in the overall quality of education and the amount of individual attention our children and their classmates have received. This extra attention makes the self-directed learning process at Montessori schools possible. Although the lack of formal grading might be a foreign concept for those never exposed to Montessori education, we can definitely say that it has not caused any motivational problems in our children. Nor was the lack of prior grading a liability for our daughter when she transitioned into public school in the 7th grade. The flexibility of thinking and the creativity any child is likely to acquire at BMS allows him/her to adapt to many future situations, educational and otherwise.
The staff and parent school board at BMS are committed to constant improvement. The generally high degree of parent involvement at BMS is another one of its assets; there is rarely, if ever a shortage of parent volunteers for projects. For those who have been disappointed in the level of responsiveness to parent concerns at other schools, the leadership style at BMS is likely to be a refreshing change. The fact that standardized tests are not a requirement at BMS is yet another benefit. There is no doubt in our minds that BMS provided the best overall experience for education that we could have chosen.”
—Beth and Neal Abdullah
An atmosphere of mutual love and respect between parents and child forms the strongest possible base for a child’s development. Children bring home from the Montessori classroom new skills and a newly-discovered sense of independence. Parents often find that their preschool children enjoy practical life activities and wish to become involved in similar activities at home. By allowing your child to become involved in household tasks, you will reinforce school activities, encouraging your child to learn to become more independent.
Parents can consolidate the Montessori experience by regularly slowing down to their child’s pace, tolerating mistakes which lead to learning, and maintaining consistent discipline. Bloomington Montessori School has a library of books about Montessori education and parenting which are available for parents to borrow.
Bloomington Montessori School depends on parents for its operation and maintenance. Parents are required to volunteer their time or services to support the work of the committees of the Board of Directors. Parents are also encouraged to observe the daily activities of their children through the observation room facilities attached to each classroom.