What Makes Montessori Unique?
The whole child approach - The primary goal of a Montessori program is to help each child reach their full potential in all areas of life. Activities promote the development of social skills, emotional growth, and physical coordination as well as cognitive preparation for future intellectual academic endeavors. The holistic curriculum, under the direction of a specifically prepared teacher, allows the child to experience the joy of learning, the time to enjoy the process, and ensures the development of self esteem. It provides the experiences from which children create their knowledge.
The Prepared environment - In order for self directed learning to take place, the whole learning environment - classroom, materials, and social setting / atmosphere - must be supportive of the child. The teacher provides the necessary resources, including opportunities for children to function in a safe and positive environment. Together, the teacher and child form a relationship based on trust and respect that fosters self confidence and a willingness to try new things.
The Montessori materials - Dr. Montessori's observations of the kinds of things which children enjoy, and go back to repeatedly, led her to design a number of multi-sensory, sequential, and self correcting materials to facilitate learning.
The teacher - Originally called a "directress", the Montessori teacher functions as a designer of the environment, resource person, role model, demonstrator, record-keeper and meticulous observer of each child's behavior and growth. The teacher facilitates learning. Extensive training is required for a full Montessori credential, including a minimum of college degree and a year's student teaching under supervision - is specialized for the age group with which a teacher will work, i.e. infant and toddler, pre-primary, or elementary level.