Montessori Principles of Education
Doctor Maria Montessori developed the principles of Montessori education over years of experimentation and observation in the classroom. In general, the Montessori principles are rooted in a deep respect for the child's own learning processes. They provide a vast amount of information how children learn, but also serve to define how Montessori is different from traditional education. There are eight principles of Montessori education, which are defined below.
- Movement And Cognition Are Connected:
Dr. Montessori espoused that people learn better when they move. So, Montessori materials encourage physical activity throughout the learning process. For example, children interact with large maps as part of their geography work and use hand bells as part of their musical education. This Montessori principle of education is especially important to kinesthetic learners, which most small children are.
- Learning And Well Being Are Improved When People Feel In Control Of Their Lives:
In Montessori classrooms, children freely choose their work and work on it for as long (or as short) as desired. Note: this focuses on the perception of control. Remember that the teacher chooses the materials that are available to the child. This is one point specific to this Montessori principle which is often misunderstood.
In fact, the child is choosing their work from a meticulously prepared environment, developed to maximize learning and growth in students. Maria Montessori pioneered the idea that an environment can be designed specifically to facilitate independent learning in children. Preparation of the "prepared environment" is critical to the Montessori Method of education.
Note: For younger children, guidance is sometimes necessary.
- People Learn Better When They Are Interested In The Topic:
In most classrooms, children are forced to study what is presented, regardless of their interest level. Montessori education inspires children to want to learn -- allowing them to focus on work that interests them. This method also helps your child build intrinsic motivation (as opposed to extrinsic, which we will discuss next). Of all the Montessori principles, this is perhaps the most easy to understand.
- Extrinsic Rewards Hurt Motivation Once The Reward Is Withdrawn:
There are no gold stars -- and often no grades at all -- in Montessori classrooms. The goal is to teach children the value of learning as its own reward. When children feel rewarded simply by learning new information, you foster an environment where they will seek education independently. Essentially, this Montessori principle highlights nurtures this intrinsic feeling of reward by helping children derive a sense of accomplishment from completing an activity and learning to do it for themselves.
- Collaboration Can Be Conducive To Learning:
This is why Montessori classrooms are generally multi-age; so kids can teach and learn from each other. In a homeschooling environment, this can be tough to replicate if you don't have a few siblings. I highly recommend you find a coop or other group of like-minded moms in your area and network. The goal is to find children that match your child's learning style. You can set up educational playdates, followed by fun at the park, library or museum.
- Learning In A Meaningful Context Can Be Better Than Learning In Abstraction:
This is best explained with an example: If your child loves paleontology, it's great to read a book about it, but it's AMAZING to bury dinosaur fossils in cloud dough and give the kid a little shovel and paintbrush to play paleontologist! So, if you're a Montessori homeschooler, don't be afraid of getting outside and going of field trips. Education is not strictly classroom-based, and this freedom is one of my favorites benefits of Montessori homeschooling.
- The Careful Balance of Intervention:
Adults should walk a careful balance in the classroom. It is important to master the skill of allowing a child to work and struggle just long enough to learn from it, but not so long that they become frustrated. For me personally, this is the hardest Montessori principle to follow. I have literally bitten my lip and sat on my hands in an effort to be true to it!
- Structure In The Environment Benefits Children:
The Montessori classroom (also known as the prepared environment) is carefully cultivated to provide an orderly learning space. This sense of order assists children in developing logical thought processes. The fundamental idea is “order in environment and mind.” Within this space, children are free to follow their interests, choose their work, and progress at their own pace. This use of order and predictability decreases anxiety levels, builds independence and enhances children's love of learning, by reducing negative external stressors, like change and chaos.
The principles of Montessori education really underscore the amazing work of Dr. Maria Montessori. And, they absolutely, 100% can be replicated in the homeschooling environment. If you are interested in how Multisori's curriculum can help you understand and implement the Montessori principles, download our big, beautiful, free sample to see for yourself!