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Parenting

How do children learn in the Montessori method of teaching?

A Answers (2)

  • AMehmet Oz, MD, Cardiology, answered
    Developed in the early nineteen hundreds by Maria Montessori, the first woman to graduate from medical school in Italy, the Montessori approach to education is based on one pretty big principle: Kids learn according to their own pace, rhythm, and capabilities during periods when their brains are particularly receptive to learning. (She originally developed her methods to fit the educational needs of children with disabilities.)

    Above all, Dr. Montessori believed that children weren't just little adults but that they had their own, unique developmental patterns. Therefore, they should be educated in a way that might be different than the way adults traditionally thought about education. She believed that children are dynamic, they learn about the world through their senses, they learn what interests them, they repeat activities, and, in many situations, they can teach themselves.

    So how do the kids in these programs learn? Well, it's a very hands-on approach, as they use all kinds of materials that stimulate their senses. Children are encouraged to order things from smallest to largest, lightest to heaviest, palest to darkest. In one "work," the child orders blocks with different grades of sandpaper on them from smoothest to roughest. In another, different temperature water is added to small metal bottles, and the child orders them from coolest to warmest. The teacher acts more as an observer than an instructor (which is in line with what we've discussed about how smart parents watch for patterns and interest levels in their own children). The result is that students learn through discovery -- often at times when they're by themselves.
  • ALara Honos-Webb, PhD, Psychology, answered
    The Montessori method of teaching uses individualized teaching methods rather than teaching a single lesson to a larger group. Maria Montessori writes that in an ideal teaching method the teacher "should refrain from letting the child know that he has made a mistake or has not understood, since this might arrest for a long time the impulse to act, which constitutes the whole basis for progress." As this quotation illustrates, the Montessori method is very different from standardized educational approaches. The methods are most suited to a child who needs individualized attention and easily gets lost in group lessons that require focused concentration on abstract concepts. In the Montessori method, the child chooses independent learning tasks based on her own needs and special interests.
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