The Montessori classroom is unlike any other educational environment. The child-centered, sensory-friendly setting is engaging, interesting, and led by a teacher who is unlike any other educator. How are Montessori teachers different from traditional teachers? Take a look at the top things that Montessori educators do differently.
Acting as a Guide
In a traditional classroom, the teacher often serves as the instructor. Standing in front of the students, the teacher leads the class by directing the children. Telling the students what, how, and when to learn isn’t part of the Montessori teacher’s repertoire.
Montessori classrooms are child-centered spaces where exploration is encouraged. But this doesn’t mean the teacher isn’t an integral part of the learning process. Instead of telling, the Montessori teacher guides. This allows the teacher to shape the learning experience without taking away the child’s curiosity, self-expression, or need to explore.
Creating From Observation
In many non-Montessori classrooms, you’ll find strictly focused lesson plans that align with a rigid curriculum. This isn’t the case in the Montessori school. Instead of forcing the student to act within a ready-made framework, the Montessori educator observes each child as an individual before preparing the environment.
As the educator observes the child, they get to know and understand how the student learns, what they’re interested in/not interested in, and what they need developmentally. Even though generally accepted developmental milestones exist, children are individuals.
The Montessori teacher respects this and uses careful observations to better understand who and where the child is. Observation-led activities mean that there is no one curriculum that the teacher implements. After observing, the Montessori teacher may guide different students toward different materials.
Preparing the Environment
Again, the Montessori educator prepares the environment based on observations. This is very different from what happens in a traditional classroom. A traditional teacher prepares the classroom at the beginning of the school year — based on the school’s curriculum and pre-planned activities.
The educational materials, books, art supplies, and anything else that the Montessori teacher places in the classroom are there to support each individual child’s needs and not because of what a ready-made curriculum says.
How do students use the materials that the Montessori teacher prepares? Instead of telling the child what to do, the teacher may show them. Much of the time, the teacher will step back and encourage the child to explore. But very young children or those that need additional help can benefit from the educator’s basic demonstration.
Encouraging Self-Discovery and Motivation
Praise has its place. But that doesn’t mean the teacher will lavish the student with compliments as they go through each activity. Likewise, the Montessori educator won’t constantly correct or interfere with the learning process in any other way.
While traditional teachers closely monitor their students, providing positive and negative feedback, the Montessori educator steps back and lets the child shape their own learning. This isn’t to say that the Montessori teacher won’t praise a student. But instead of a constant stream of comments, the teacher allows the child to motivate themselves from within.
Building Sensory Experiences
Learning doesn’t always happen by sitting and listening to someone else talk. In the early childhood setting, it rarely does. The Montessori educational philosophy focuses on learning through the senses — all five of them. With this in mind, the educator creates experiences that allow the student to engage with the materials in hands-on ways.
Rarely, if ever, would you find the Montessori teacher talking at the children in a large group, as you might expect in a traditional classroom. Instead, the teacher will build sensory-friendly options that promote discovery through sight, hearing, smell, touch, and even taste (depending on the activity).
Is Montessori right for your child? Contact Miniapple International Montessori Schools for more information.