The “Whole Child” Approach
A primary goal of a Montessori program is to help each child reach full potential in all areas of life. His or her physical, emotional, social, aesthetic, spiritual, and cognitive needs and interests are considered inseparable and equally important. The Montessori curriculum, under the direction of a specially educated teacher, provides the resources and atmosphere for exploration and discovery, allows students to experience the joy of learning, promotes the development of self-esteem, and fosters respect for one’s self, for others, and for the environment.
The “Prepared Environment”
In order for self-directed learning to take place, the whole learning environment – room, materials, and social climate – must be supportive of the learner. The teacher provides necessary resources, including opportunities for children to function in a safe and positive climate. The teacher thus gains the children’s trust, which enables them to try new things and build self-confidence.
The Montessori Materials
Dr. Montessori’s observations of the kinds of activities that children enjoy and go back to repeatedly led her to design a number of multi-sensory, sequential, and self-correcting materials that facilitate the learning of skills and lead to learning of abstract ideas.
The Montessori teacher functions as a facilitator of learning. As such, he or she is a designer of the environment, resource person, guide, role model, demonstrator, and meticulous observer and recorder of each student’s behavior and growth. The preparation of a Montessori teacher is specialized and extensive. To qualify for an American Montessori Society (AMS) credential, candidates must graduate from an AMS affiliated Montessori teacher education program that includes a year of supervised student teaching. An AMS teacher’s preparation is focused on the age level with which he or she will work (i.e., infant and toddler, early education, elementary, or secondary).
Courtesy of American Montessori Society