Perhaps the biggest difference between a Montessori education and a traditional education lies in the fact that Child Development drives our approach with students. As an educator with experience in both of these worlds, I can tell you with all certainty that Montessorians don’t just pay lip service to child development when it comes to our practices and methods. While traditional educators must also take courses in Human Growth and Development, little effort is paid to match pedagogical approaches to those principles and standards. In her observations and work with children, Dr. Montessori theorized that development occurs in distinct phases – each embodying specific characteristics and sensitivities for the developmental period in which the child resides. The First Plane encompasses children from birth to six years; the Second encompasses children from 6 – 12 years; and the Third encompasses children from 12 to 18 years.
Last week in our Staff Development session, the faculty and I worked together reviewing Dr. Montessori’s “Planes of Child Development,” relating them to common Principles and Outcomes of Montessori education. We addressed the overall essential question, “What is the connection between the planes of development and effective learning in the Montessori classroom?”. The three-hour session was an excellent reminder to go back and consider our “roots” that guide these extraordinary moments with our students. At the conclusion of our time together, teachers came to a consensus about their renewed dedication to structure their Prepared Environments in order to maximize both educational and personal potential for their students. Those are the moments that make me come alive – seeking ways to get colleagues talking about this important work – and hearing of their successful implementation of their ideas.
The work of Dr. Angeline Lillard, Child Developmental Psychologist at the University of Virginia, is important. Her book,
Montessori: The Science behind the Genius
, is referenced in Montessori training programs throughout the world. Dr. Lillard distills common Principles
of a Montessori education – all of which are derived from Montessori’s ideas on childhood development. As parents and caregivers who are choosing to invest in a quality Montessori education for your child, I wanted to include those principles in this edition of
Eight Principles of Montessori Education –
1. Movement and Cognition are entwined and can enhance
learning and thinking.
2. Learning and Well Being are improved when children have a sense of control over their lives.
3. Children learn better when they are interested in what they are learning.
4. Tying extrinsic rewards to an activity like money for reading or high grades or tests – negatively impacts motivation to engage in that activity when the motivation is withdrawn.
5. Collaborative Arrangements are conducive to learning.
6. Learning situated in meaningful contexts is often deeper and richer than learning in abstract contexts (the Montessori materials help to elucidate this concept).
7. Particular forms of adult interaction are associated with optimal learning outcomes (Role of the Adult).
8. Order in the environment is extremely beneficial to students.
Montessori’s work continues to astound me in its depth and completeness. Perhaps this accounts for why there is such a wide proliferation of Montessori schools nationwide – both in the public and private sectors. And I am honored to be a part of a team of colleagues working to help your children achieve at their very best.
Yours in Montessori Education,