Montessori Method: Fueling the Natural Desires of Learning
A desire to bring about a child’s natural yearning to learn more. Acquiring knowledge should not be intimidating or criticized during the process for a young mind, as every child has the embedded curiosity to expand their thoughts in an error-free environment.
This has made the Montessori Method grow exponentially in popularity for the young developing mind. Brooksfield School proudly incorporates this learning platform.
Contact Brooksfield School for any information at all regarding the Montessori Method or any general questions about their programs.
Follow the Rhythm of the Child: The Montessori Method
Excerpt from Brook’s Field of Dreams, 1996
Your child is like a seed growing into a flower. The Montessori Method allows the child to grow at his or her own natural pace, and we should therefore try to let go and not be so concerned with instant results by digging out that “seed” to check on its daily development.
This quote of Maria Montessori captures the beauty of her method. She believed that children learn on their own and the goals of early childhood education should be to cultivate a child’s natural desire to learn. To her, learning to read, write, and do math should be as natural to the child as learning to walk and talk.
The Montessori environment and equipment invite children to learn these skills during their own periods of interest and readiness. Teachers show their respect for the rhythm of each child’s life in the way they guide the child to try new things and more challenging work. If the child responds with interest and attempts to use the materials the teacher has introduced, she knows that she has presented the materials at the right time. If however, the child does not respond with interest, the teacher suggests that they put the workaway for another day. There is no correcting or scorn. The teacher knows that she must follow the rhythm of the child for the child to succeed.
When children learn under these circumstances, they gain confidence and working habits that are necessary for more advanced learning activities. Dr. Montessori believed that instilling an early enthusiasm for learning is the key to helping a child become a truly educated person – someone who continues learning throughout life because he or she is motivated from within by a natural curiosity and love for knowledge.
The Montessori Method of a Prepared Environment
In addition to being a child-centered community, the Montessori preschool classroom is also a “prepared environment.” The prepared environment is Maria Montessori’s concept that the environment can be designed to facilitate maximum independent learning and exploration by the child.
The Montessori preschool classroom is a “living room” for children. All of the furniture is child-sized and all of the materials are scaled to fit the physical dimensions of a preschooler’s body. The space is usually divided into four distinct areas: practical life, sensorial, mathematics, and language. Although these areas represent part of the curriculum, it is important to remember that no subject is taught in isolation. The Montessori preschool curriculum is interdisciplinary and interactive.
In the prepared environment there is a variety of activity as well as a great deal of movement. A three-year-old, for example, may be washing clothes by hand while a four-year-old nearby is composing words and phrases with letters known as the moveable alphabet. Meanwhile, a five-year-old may be performing multiplication using a specially designed set of beads. Although much of the work at this stage of development is done individually, often children enjoy working at an activity with friends. Sometimes the entire class is involved in a group activity, such as storytelling, singing, or movement.
Maria Montessori wrote that the adult works to perfect the environment while the child works to perfect herself. The Montessori prepared environment respects and protects the child’s rhythm of life. It is a calm, ordered space constructed to meet her needs and match her scale of activity. Here, the child experiences a blend of freedom and discipline in a place especially designed for her development.
When We Bring Montessori Home
Whenever I spend a bit of time at Brooksfield and get the chance to observe my daughter in action, I always come away amazed at the things she can do on her own. Putting on her coat and gloves. Unrolling, and then nicely rolling back up, a rug, without being asked. Following simple directions without a ton of oversight.
It’s all pretty amazing.
And, of course, once we get home on those days, there’s a new world order. I’m less likely to rush in to help and more likely to sit back and marvel at what happens when I leave her to her own devices. After just a year at Brooksfield, I’m a Montessori convert. I love the emphasis on independence and freedom and the child-led nature feels so right to me.
A few weeks ago, in one of her Night Time Reading about Montessori emails, Sarah sent an article about Montessori at home. I opened it immediately; eager to do whatever I could at home to follow through on what my daughter learned at school.
And I was surprised to learn that, in many ways, we had already created a prepared environment in our home.
Now, don’t be fooled. We’re not really that on top of things. A year ago our son was born and on those days when the baby wanted to cluster feed and the preschooler wanted to cluster snack, we needed someone to be able to fend for themselves. So we moved the healthy, always-approved snacks to the bottom drawer of our pantry. And we moved the kid-friendly plastic plates and bowls to a low, deep drawer in our kitchen. That drawer often looks like a rainbow exploded, colorful plates and bowls tossed about chaotically. And bags of dried fruit often spill out of the snack shelf as soon as you open the pantry doors. But when I’ve got a baby in one arm and I’m loading the dishwasher with the other, my daughter can satisfy her very urgent sounding snack need without much more than a passing glance from me.
And she loves that just as much as I do, if not, perhaps, more.
Fully embracing our children’s independence can be tough for parents. Really tough. We want to do things and provide for our kids. We want them to be our babies forever. We want to see them grow and flourish and thrive… but we don’t want to let go. And, in a more practical way, we don’t want to clean up the mess of a failed attempt to pour cereal into a bowl.
But I’ve seen how important the independence is to my daughter. She thrives on it. She smiles bigger when she’s done something for herself and she is more likely to try something new when she rides that wave of confidence. And even though she can dress herself and zip her own coat and almost completely get ready for her day with no help from me, she still needs me. To love her and guide her and to kiss her and hug her and dry her tears. And those things are so much more valuable to us both.