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What is Montessori Curriculum?

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  • 0:01 Foundation of…
  • 1:08 Principles of…
  • 2:13 Montessori Classrooms
  • 3:31 Sensitive Periods
  • 5:46 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Marquis Grant
This lesson provides an overview and detailed explanation highlighting the Montessori curriculum. Complete it to learn about Montessori principles, methods, and ideas.

Foundation of Montessori Curriculum

Maria Montessori was a respected expert on child development. Her ideas and practices emphasized that every child goes through a unique development process and is a unique individual that can learn in line with his or her capacity. It was Montessori's belief that knowledge requires more than simple memorization of educational material. Montessori insisted that knowledge should be made specific enough so that any child of any age can understand. She developed a method and series of materials that can be integrated into the classroom setting.

Montessori curriculum is different from traditional classroom curriculum that focuses on children learning the same thing, at the same time, in the same way. Montessori curriculum emphasizes learning as a process that cannot be determined by a child's age. Instead, learning is a process that is determined by the rate and speed at which a child can acquire one skill before moving on to another skill. This is why it is not uncommon to see mixed-age groupings in Montessori classrooms, where a 2-year old may be in the same classroom setting as a 4-year old, based on developmental ability.

Principles of Montessori Curriculum

The Montessori curriculum has been supported by many as an ideal learning environment for children from primary to elementary grade levels. Currently, there are over 4,000 Montessori schools across America. These schools adopt most of the main principles of Montessori education:

  • Children are to be respected for their individuality.
  • Children have an intrinsic, or natural, motivation to learn and will do so if given the right resources and opportunities in the classroom.
  • The first six years of a child's life are the most formative.
  • Adults in the classroom are merely facilitators and observers of learning; children have the ability to direct their own learning without interference from adults.
  • Rote memorization of material does not nurture a child's individual skills and abilities and, in fact, inhibits, or reduces, them.
  • Emphasis is placed on early childhood development. During this period, children are exposed to Montessori methods and practices that are continued well into the primary years of school. It is during the early childhood period that children's minds are the most adaptable to learning new information.

Montessori Classrooms

According to Montessori practices, children are allowed to choose their work instead of the teacher choosing the work for them. An effective teacher in the Montessori classroom serves more as a guide, whose responsibility is to observe children during their periods and assess them according to mastery. By observing children's behaviors, the teacher is able to identify what motivates them.

With this in mind, the Montessori classroom provides a child-centered setting, in which mastery of certain ideas is emphasized without placing unnecessary limitations on the child. The Montessori method is designed to make the learning environment a meaningful experience based on children's natural desire to learn.

With this in mind, the classroom setting is prepared with materials appropriate for the students to explore at their own leisure, based on their interests. This motivates students to want to learn by exploring their immediate surroundings and resources.

Montessori students are measured according to whether they have mastered the skills necessary to complete certain tasks. If a student does not demonstrate mastery, he will not advance to more complex activities until he has achieved mastery. Unlike the traditional school curriculum, Montessori curriculum focuses on a child's developmental readiness to learn new material rather than assuming all children should learn the same material based on grade level expectations.

Sensitive Periods

Montessori identifies several sensitive periods that typically take place between birth to six years old. Three of these periods are very important: order, language, and movement.

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