In the Montessori world, it is often said that “the materials are not the method”. Montessori education uses specialized learning tools, but without the proper guidance of a Montessori teacher, they do not produce results. The classroom materials are put into place to assist the children as they participate in self-directed work. Chilren are allowed to use materials only after their teacher has presented the lesson to them.
Some people mistakenly believe that a Montessori school allows a child to do whatever they wish, but that is not the case. Instead, the Montessori method acknowledges that each child goes through a “sensitive period”, during which they are open to an optimum level of learning within a certain area. For example, children in preschool are in a sensitive period for learning through their physical senses. The work of a Montessori student allows a child to achieve what Dr. Montessori called “normalization”. Normalization is a change from the young child’s usual short attention span and fantasy play. The child easily becomes self-motivated, self-disciplined, and can peacefully socialize and collaborate while doing work. You will not find any desks in a Montessori school; what you will find however, is a quiet peaceful environment where each student is working at their own pace and succeeding at their work.
Montessori schools teach all the basic subject matter you will find in a traditional public or private school setting, it is simply done in an alternative way. A crucial pillar of the Montessori philosophy is that each child needs the freedom to develop to her maximum potential intellectually, socially, and spiritually. Dr. Montessori recognized that the child’s full potential can be realized by self-motivated learning. The Montessori environment is non-competitive, and results in a child who becomes a life-long learner. The Montessori classroom is respectful, with both children and teachers speaking to each other in kind voices. Unlike a public school environment, Montessori teachers don’t yell. There are no bullies at our Montessori school; the children’s mutual respect leads to a classroom full of friends.