Montessori is a method of education but it is also so much more. It becomes a lifestyle that supports each child’s independence, interests, and social-emotional growth while valuing peaceful interactions with others.
At École Montessori de Montréal, each classroom uses both the methods and lifestyle of the Montessori approach to embody the school’s values of individual independence, exploration of individual interests, social-emotional growth, and peaceful interaction.
Dr. Maria Montessori’s method of education includes deep respect for every child – respecting their abilities, guiding them as they learn, and supporting the growth of self-confidence as they independently practice new skills.
In a Montessori classroom hands-on learning engages all the senses in the learning process, opening multiple pathways in the brain as new information is processed and retained. Children are invited to discover for themselves, and with others, as they learn new things. It is an approach that begins with the way teachers prepare themselves and their classrooms for their students.
Montessori teachers are often called ‘Guides’ because they focus on guiding the children toward independent learning.
In the Montessori classroom, students can learn at their own pace. A student who needs more time will be allowed to continue until they have mastered the concept. A student that has mastered the concept will be invited to help other students or move on to the next concept to be mastered.
Small groups of students working together is common and encouraged. The teacher supports all learning styles and provides an environment where different learning styles are accepted.
Montessori teachers demonstrate their respect for the child in the way they interact with the students in the classroom. For example, when it is necessary to get the attention of the entire group, the teacher rings a soft but audible bell to alert the children to her need for their attention. Instead of calling out loudly over the conversation or abruptly disrupting the focused concentration that may be occurring around the room, the bell gently announces the need to stop what they are doing and turn their attention to the teacher.
Montessori teachers interact with their students with quiet voices and calm movements. They model respectful behavior, teaching children how to ask for attention without disrupting the activity going on around them.
If a teacher is sitting and working directly with a student when help is needed, children learn to rest a hand on the teacher’s shoulder to signal their need for help. When the teacher has finished helping, they will turn to offer assistance to the second student. Assistance is offered with quiet voices, respecting the concentration of the other students throughout the room.
When an accident happens, such as materials falling to the floor, or spilling from a container, the teacher does not rush to address it, but waits quietly and observes, providing the students time to identify what needs to happen next and allow them to take the steps needed to address the spill. The classroom has been set up to support the student’s independence in this area, with cloths, child-sized mops, brooms, and dustpans easily accessible.
When conflict occurs between students, the teacher uses a peace-keeping approach that uses positive discussions with the students to help resolve the issue.
Students participate in defining classroom rules and the consequences of not adhering to those rules. When a rule is broken, rather than focusing on a punishment, the teacher helps the students remember the classroom rules they made together and focuses the discussion on how to make amends and restore relationships with others.