Principal’s Corner Archive

Montessori Myths and Facts: Myth 3

Myth: Montessori schools are linked with the Catholic Church

Fact:Although Maria Montessori was brought up in the Catholic Church, Montessori’s methods are not affiliated with any religious organization. While church-based schools and preschools are free to use Montessori methods if they wish.

Montessori Myths and Facts: Myth 2

Myth: Montessori is far too structured

Fact: Children in a Montessori School are able to select the activities they want to participate in. Although the teacher will direct children into appropriate and necessary activities, children do get a lot of choice as to what they want to do. What is structured in a Montessori classroom is the environment: it is laid out carefully to allow children to do things for themselves including putting away their equipment once they have finished with it. Some structure is necessary for a child, as this gives them security and stability, and good manners and self- discipline (such as tidying up after yourself) are important life skills to help the child to get along with others.

Montessori Myths and Facts: Myth 1

Myth: At a Montessori School, children get to do whatever they want.

Fact: While Montessori learning allows children to be self-directed and to choose their learning activities, they don’t just get to do what they want. The teacher will observe the children and can see when some teaching or direction from an adult is needed. Children at a Montessori School have to learn to share equipment and take turns and how to interact courteously with others, so they can’t always use the equipment they want to whenever they want to as someone else may be using it.

10 Commandments of Interactions with Children

1. Thou shalt not speak to a child from across the room
2. Thou shalt get down on the child’s eye-level and use child’s name
3. Thou shalt accept, help identify and validate children’s feelings
4. Thou shalt teach and encourage children to use problem-solving
5. Thou shalt be aware of tone of voice and speak to children respectfully, always mindful of their self-esteem
6. Thou shalt ask open-ended questions to encourage thinking skills
7. Thou shall greet children warmly when they arrive and continue to make them welcome and accepted throughout the day
8. Thou shalt state things in a positive way; telling children what they can do, and not what they can’t do
9. Thou shalt serve as a positive role-model
10. Thou shalt remember to use praise and positive reinforcement- including appropriate affection

How can a “real” Montessori classroom be identified?

Since Montessori is a word in the public domain, it is possible for any individual or institution to claim to be Montessori. But, an authentic Montessori classroom must have these basic characteristics at all levels:

  • Teachers educated in the Montessori philosophy and methodology for the age level they are teaching, who have the ability and dedication to put the key concepts into practice. A partnership established with the family. The family is considered an integral part of the individual’s total development.
  • A multi-aged, multi-graded heterogeneous grouping of students.
  • A diverse set of Montessori materials, activities and experiences which are designed to foster physical, intellectual, creative and social independence. A schedule that allows large blocks of time to problem solve, to see connections in knowledge and to create new ideas.
  • A classroom atmosphere which encourages social interaction for cooperative learning, peer teaching and emotional development.
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