The idea behind Maria Montessori’s education structure is that the child will ‘own’ their own learning – meaning, they’ll be guided by the parent or teacher, but ultimately they will decide independently what direction they want to take when it comes to learning and activities. This has helped to really encourage children to be independent and to explore and learn on their own terms – bettering their time management and self-management skills.
As parents and teachers, we’re given the responsibility to teach and guide our children the best that we know how. Maria Montessori has spent countless hours studying children and their learning behaviors and practices. She found that children do learn best if they are teaching themselves – however, they still need to be pointed in the right direction. But, when they are making decisions for themselves and their education, Dr. Montessori noticed that their motivation increased and they cared more about what they were learning.
For example, when it comes to grade-school projects and studies – let’s look at history. A typical history project for a grade-school student who is 8-10 years old may be a presentation about a specific moment in history. Instead, with a Montessori approach, we could follow the same guidelines and go about a presentation but rather than limiting our students and children to one specific historic event, we open it up to a multitude of different monumental moments in history that they get to choose from.
How can you take steps in this direction? There are many things that Maria Montessori suggests for a classroom ideal for Montessori teachings – wooden and natural materials only, no plastic toys or furniture, specific organization, etc. However, even if you’re not ready to go all in and switch out all of your children’s toys yet – you can still start with something as simple as letting your child decide in what order they will complete their homework from school. Let them decide how and when they will do it and let them hold themselves accountable.
What do you think? Do you have any suggestions for how to get started phasing into the Montessori approach?