Below are the “Top 10 Montessori Principles” I wholeheartedly adapt and would like to share with you.
1- Sensitive periods
The sensitive period is the time when the child finds keen interest in learning about specific concepts. During the sensitive periods, learning comes naturally without any effort as the child is passionate about learning. Sensitive periods vary from one age group to another.
The most common sensitive periods for the age of 3-6 are:
· Sense of order.
· Language development.
· Interest in small objects.
The most common sensitive periods for the age of 6-12 are:
· Justice and moral judgements (the concept of fair and unfair).
· Social relationships.
· Money and economic value.
· The abstract use of imagination.
· The use of tools and machines.
· History and time.
Children tend to have desire for independence since they are born. You may have noticed your toddler wanting to hold his own plate or spoon, zip his jacket, open the door…. etc. without help. Sometimes, when we are in a hurry we interfere with this natural desire for independence. Montessori materials are designed to serve the purpose of independence.
“Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.” Dr. Maria Montessori
The prepared environment is one of the terms commonly used when referring to Montessori classrooms or home environment. It is one of the most visible principles that you can observe the moment you walk into a Montessori class or homeschool.
The most common characteristics of the Montessori environment:
· Peace corner.
· Child-sized shelves and furniture.
· Organized materials on the shelves.
· Practical life area
Concentration is an essential element of the Montessori philosophy. Our role is to prepare a relaxing environment that can help the child concentrate without disruptions.
4- Isolation of difficulty
Isolating the difficulty is an important principle to consider when preparing any activity for the child. A child especially in the 3-6 age group needs to focus on one new/challenging/difficult element at a time. This means to remove any unnecessary obstacle that can limit their motivation or ability to learn.
Let’s look at the weaving exercise as an example.
If you’re introducing this activity for the first time, you need a metal loom that is easy to control and suitable for the size of the child’s little hands. Big ribbons and maybe one color only for the first time to isolate the difficulty. We need the child to focus on the over/under difficulty only at the beginning until they master the skill of weaving one ribbon, over and under on a metal loom.
When they are ready for another level of difficulty we can add one more color or make the ribbons thinner. At this stage they are still weaving with their hands only without tools.
The child can then focus once they master previous exercises on using a weaving needle on a wooden loom. So the main difficult task can be the use of the new tool (needle) instead of their hands. The rest of the steps should be easy for them at this stage like the over and under move of their hands.
If you’re inspired with any activity online ensure that you ask yourself depending on your child how can you “isolate the difficulty” and scaffold to keep the child motivated.
5- Work cycle
A typical Montessori day is divided into work cycles. Each work cycle is about 3 hours of uninterrupted work. The child is able during that time to engage and interact with the prepared environment and choose his own work independently.
“…when the cycle is completed, the child detaches himself from his internal
concentration; refreshed and satisfied, he experiences the higher social impulses, such as
desiring to make confidences and to hold intimate communion with other souls." (Dr. Maria
Montessori, 'The Advanced Montessori Method
6- Mixed age classroom
Montessori classrooms are characterized by the mixed age groups which is phenomenal. If you are a parent and witnessed how younger siblings learn from their elder ones and are sometimes ahead of their age, you may already know the value of mixed age groups. Children are grouped into 3 main age groups: 3-6 (Early Childhood) / 6-9 (Lower Elementary) / 9-12 (Upper Elementary)
7- Concrete to abstract:
Since Dr. Maria Montessori was a scientist, she believed in the concept of experiential learning. Children learn almost all concepts from concrete to abstract. You would be impressed how Algebra and complex equations can be internalized and visualized using concrete materials. There is evident progression in Montessori materials from concrete to abstract. Once this progression is achieved, the child can work abstractly on Math, Language, and all other concepts without any effort.
Normalization is when children grow inner discipline and peace. They know their routines, can work independently and make choices with minimal guidance from their teachers.
9-Control of error
Montessori materials are designed to allow self-correction which enhances independence and self-esteem. Most of the 3-6 materials are designed to allow children to realize whether they have completed the activity correctly or not in their design itself, which acts the control of error tool. In the elementary level, the control of error is sometimes a chart that has the answers to the equations they have solved, or grammar sentences they have analyzed.
10-Observe and follow the child
This is one of the most common phrases in Montessori. We follow the child’s interests and prepare the inviting environment accordingly. Give freedom within limits, not an unconditional one. Let children take ownership of their own learning and adapt the curriculum according to those needs by observing and following each child to help them unleash all their potentials.
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