10 Essential Components of an Elite Montessori Preschool

There are many benefits of an elite Montessori preschool for young children. These important early years (ages 2 to 6) prepare a student for the learning experience that is to come, whether they continue with the Montessori Method or  move to a public classroom or other private school environment in the future.

1. Focus on Key Developmental Stages

A Montessori preschool curriculum should focus on key developmental milestones in children ages 2-5 years-old. Younger children should focus on honing large muscle and language skills. Older children should work on fine motor skills and completing everyday activities, such as cooking and arts & crafts. Older preschoolers should also broaden their learning experience through their communities, and by taking trips and attending special events.

2. Encourage Cooperative Play

The teacher should not “run” the classroom. Instead students should be guided through the activities they do throughout the day. This encourages children to share and work cooperatively to explore the various stations in the Montessori classroom. As a result, children in Montessori classrooms, learn to respect one another and build a sense of community.

3. Make Everything Child-Centered

Montessori preschool students enjoy a classroom  and curriculum designed around their specific needs and abilities so they can explore and learn at their own pace and on their own terms.

Everything in the classroom should be within reach of the child. In addition, older children in the class should work with the younger ones, so mentoring comes as much from peers as it does from the adult teachers in the classroom.

4. Self-Discipline is Naturally Learned

The Montessori Method allows children to choose the activities they want to work on each day, and how long they will work at a specific task. There should be specific “ground rules” for the class that are consistently enforced by the teacher and by other students. This environment naturally teaches  children self-discipline, and it refines important skills like concentration, self-control and motivation.

5. Let the Classroom Environment Teach Order

All objects and activities should have precise locations on the shelves of a Montessori classroom. When children are finished with an activity, they place items back into their appropriate places. This sense of order helps facilitate the learning process, teaches self-discipline, and caters to a young  child’s innate need for an orderly environment. When children work and play in an area that is neat and predictable, they can unleash their  creativity and focus fully on the learning process.

6. Teachers Facilitate the Learning Experience

Teachers in the Montessori classroom should act as “guides” to facilitate the learning experience, rather than determine what it will look like. Teachers take the lead from the children in the classroom, ensure the ground rules are followed,  and encourage students to perform tasks at their own pace. However, teachers do not determine the pace of the classroom – that is strictly up to individual students, as teachers strive to remain as unobtrusive as possible.

7. The Learning Method Inspires Creativity

Since children are allowed to choose their activities and work at them on their own terms, creativity in the classroom is encouraged. Children work at tasks for the joy of the work, rather than the end result, which allows them to focus more on process than result – a natural path to creativity. Exposure to a wide variety of cultures also encourages children to broaden their thinking about the world and address those concepts in a variety of ways.

8. Data Shows Higher Math and Reading Skills

Elite Montesorri schools should show higher math and reading skills than non-Montesorri schools. Research conducted by Dr. Angeline Lillard, a professor of psychology from the University of  Virginia, examined the abilities of children who have been taught in a Montessori school. Published in 2006 in the Journal of Science, the research studied Montessori students in Wisconsin and found that five-year-old’s in Montessori classrooms had higher math and reading skills than their counterparts in public schools.

9. Every Student Has an Individualized Experience

Students in an elite Montessori program are allowed to explore activities and concepts at their own pace. This naturally encourages children to try more challenging areas, which accelerates their learning experience. Learning occurs at a comfortable pace for each student, rather than inflicting the same rate on every student in a classroom. Every child is different.

10. Curriculum Focused on Hands-On Learning

One of the greatest benefits of the Montessori Method, particularly during the early learning experience, is the focus on hands-on learning.

The emphasis is on concrete, rather than abstract learning, as students  work on activities that teach language, math, culture and practical life lessons. Teachers encourage students to concentrate on tasks, and they discourage students from interrupting one another, allowing students to focus on activities until  they are properly mastered.

About Dean Stephen Christensen, Concordia University

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