The Montessori Method of education is successful because, it is based on a deep understanding of the way children learn: through choosing, trying and doing themselves. The Montessori philosophy uses a "whole child" approach to education and focuses on children's ability to learn by teaching them how to learn.
Below you may find a brief summary of the differences between Montessori and traditional approach to education:
The Montessori Method encourages independence and freedom with limits and responsibility, which together with dignity are of paramount importance. In the Montessori environment, apart from some group work, children have the freedom to choose their own activities that interests them. The children are free to help themselves to the learning materials displayed on child sized shelves without having to ask for items or wait for the teacher to give permission. They choose the materials they wish to work with and return them to their original place when they are finished. This helps to develop a child's independence and self esteem. With this freedom to investigate the world around them, children will become enthusiastic and active learners.
The Montessori environment is a stimulating child-centered environment and a nourishing place for children. The "prepared environment" has a series of special education material that bridge the gap between concrete and abstract learning. Materials and method stress the development of all of the senses. Young children will often say "Help me to do it myself". The practical life and sensorial materials and exercises help develop coordination and the refinement of gross and fine motor skills. Self-correcting materials allow the child to develop problem solving skills. When they are ready, children are introduced to the alphabet and encouraged to write, which in Montessori theory precedes learning to read. A number of the materials provide an underlying introduction to basic mathematical processes.
In order for it to become a lifelong skill the child's ability to remain on task must come from within, not from outside reproach. The Montessori multi-aged classrooms aims for a balanced number of three, four and five year olds who work alongside each other in the same environment. The younger children are stimulated by, and model their behavior upon, that of the older ones. The latter develop tolerance and a caring attitude towards their juniors. A spirit of cooperation rather than competition is encouraged. The children are encouraged to help and respect each other.
The essence of Montessori lies in children's freedom to learn and develop at their own speed and according to his/her own needs and interests. The Teacher, or Directress, acts merely as a guide allowing children to develop naturally at their own pace. The Directress is trained to "follow the child" and plan and implement a program, which is providing guidance and stimulus. This enables the teacher to discover more about each individual child and their inner development. The typical Montessori classroom is a quiet room, with its occupants working at their chosen activities and the Directress moving around amongst them giving help where needed and, through observation, monitoring each child's progress. The Montessori teacher uses her skills of observation to understand each child's learning style and development to individualize the curriculum. They will learn more with no pressure from an adult. Self-discipline, concentration, pride in one's own work, and respect for other people's activities and the environment in general are the underlying goals, while sense of the joy of learning is fostered.
When you add the specially developed materials in a prepared environment, and the close observation of a trained teacher, this leads to a very successful outcome for the child: The child learns through understanding as opposed to simply being told. From understanding comes confidence and a love of life long learning is promoted very early on. Children coming from a Montessori background are more confident in their abilities, have a stronger sense of self and are more able to focus on tasks and complete them than other children. High levels of positive, social and behavioural development are also demonstrated in all areas. Children develop best in a caring environment where they are allowed to express themselves and when learning experiences interest them and are part of their world.