For children of all ages, the Montessori theory fosters independence and promotes discovery – often referring to their growth and learning as “work” as opposed to play. Montessori instruction differs tremendously from the structure of traditional education – children are frequently left to work with by themselves. The teachers provide little to no instruction upon giving educational materials to the children – leaving many parents wondering, “how will my child know what to do?” You would be surprised. When children are given the freedom to independently explore, their findings are that much more exciting. When we teach students the answers, we’re stealing their rewarding experience of making a discovery. So how do the Montessori materials enable your child’s development?
Upon entering a Montessori classroom you may see a large moveable alphabet or a world puzzle map; two educational materials you would typically think to find in a traditional classroom setting. However, the difference between Montessori materials and traditional education is their design. Montessori uses wooden materials that resemble real, everyday objects and actions to encourage children to understand abstract concepts.
These materials focus on one activity or skill at a time. For example, children learn how to tie bows, ties, and button buttons by using a Montessori “dressing frame.” Students are given a wooden frame that simplifies the task as much as possible – removing any distraction. The task at hand is straight-forward from here: There are two pieces of fabric attached to this wooden frame, one has 5 button holes and the other has 5 buttons. The child can then spend his time exploring and discovering how the buttons fit into the button holes – thus, learning how to button buttons.
The Montessori theory revolves around the idea that children learn best when they’re learning from their own mistakes. This “control of error” is used with each material to show students their errors – as opposed to being corrected by an adult.
The purpose behind every material in a Montessori classroom is very clear, to invite activity and promote discovery. This environment gives children the freedom to reach their unlimited potential everyday.