When the Montessori Curriculum is mentioned, what comes to mind?
The Subjects taught in the Montessori Setting?
So what subjects do we teach in the Montessori setting?
Did you know that that these are the subjects peculiar to the 3 -6 age group?
What the Primary/Elementary school children learn in terms of subjects is a different ball game entirely.
The primary school subjects in the Montessori setting includes, Language, Mathematics, Cosmic Education ( which includes every thing else) all the 19 odd additional subjects and much more. It is wider in scope than the traditional subjects but the beauty of it all is that the child is never overwhelmed and enjoys learning.
This happens because learning is interest driven and project based.
Today we will attempt to understand the what (that is the subject) by understanding the why and the how.
The Why of the Montessori curriculum, must be understood entirely in order to implement the curriculum successfully and effectively in any setting.
Most of the time we buy a curriculum and spend money on Montessori materials and think that we know what we are doing!
If you have the curriculum and have materials but all the training the teachers have done is based on a 3 weekend course or even a 12 weekend course, then I am sorry for most part the why is not well established.
The Montessori Method is based on Maria Montessori’s deep observation and understanding of how the child learns. Montessori education therefore stands on the principles of what benefits the child’s learning.
According to Montessori pedagogy there are 4 developmental stages in the life of the child from birth to adulthood. Each stage requires a different way of education and helping the child develop.
Do you know the developmental stages?
0 -6 years. Preschool,
6-12 years, Childhood (Primary school),
12 -18 years, Adolesence (Secondary school)
18-24 years, The Young Adult (College, University, etc.)
We will start with the pre school child where learning with the senses and the force of the inner teacher of the child, the reason for all the sensorial and individualized materials in your nursery school setting informs what is done in or pre school settings. This method of learning, using the senses and the importance of the use of the hand for this particular age is the reason why setting up a Montessori lab, room etc. defeats the whole essence of the Montessori method. Know your why, it will help you to really soar as a Montessori educator.
I think that wether you are Montessori or not you must under stand the child.
The Primary school child is a thinker, the age of reasoning is catching on fast, they ask questions, want to know how and why, they are ready to research and find out things for themselves, they are really into social justice and what is fair and right.
This is why writing notes for them to copy and cram is killing their intellect very slowly. Instead stimulate and ignite their imagination. They will research, build and write projects themselves, better than any notes we could have written and they will love, enjoy it and make you proud as well!
Then you have your secondary school student, who is trying to understand their place in the world, these children need hands on industrial and technical training. Instead they are stuck in the classroom listening to us droning on all day.
Finally the Young Adult, they are getting there but not actually an adult yet, we put so much on them and tell them they are men and women, we throw them out there even before they really find their place in the world. The young adult still need some guidance.
Is it then a wonder our children hate school and the education system, Montessori or not?
To prevent this from happening yet again in 2021 here is a how of Montessori in a nutshell. These are Montessori nuggets which help you do right by the child and implement the Montessori Curriculum effectively if you always consider them as you plan and as you guide the children in your care, parent or educator it really doesn’t matter.
A. Independence: No child wants to be tied to an adults apron strings. Oh, the child does love you but needs to be independent and not dependent on us for how do do the basic necessities. They should not have to just copy notes off the board, they should be able to write their notes themselves or better still create an eye watering project from what they have been learning. This is what a Primary school child can easily get their teeth into and enjoy… So much can be achieved if the child learns to do and think for themselves. They are the leaders of tomorrow, we need to treat them as such.
B. Following the Child: A concept usually misunderstood. There is a lot I could say about this but I will try and be brief.
Why do we follow the child?
We follow the child because we learn a lot about where the child is at and what the child needs by following them. They have an inner teacher just as we have? Why are you here? Who made you read this post? Who put a bullet to your head and said ‘You must follow Mama Monte!’ Is it not your decision, your choice. Something inside of you has guided you to come here and stay here.
There is something inside of each child pushing them to learn, they are learners, they want to know and they want to learn. Follow them, find out what interests them, let them learn through their interests, not through your interests.
The Primary school curriculum in the Montessori setting is quite humongous, but the cool thing is that you do not need to know everything, neither does the child, in actual fact you could never cover everything, but through the little each does so well and presents to the class all is gaining a bit more knowledge than they would have if they had to depend on the teacher’s knowledge alone.
There is a lot to say but not enough time.
C. Preparing the environment: This is so important and if follows on from the point above, know your children and then provide what they need. One child may be interested in farm animals and another in insects but maybe none is really concerned about birds this year!
Yet in the years gone by, children you worked with loved just learning about birds and dinosaurs! Don’t worry prepare the environment for the ones you are working with right now, they will still learn how to communicate and do this creatively, they will do some maths and geometry and geography and sciences regardless of what their interests are, simply guide them and guide the learning to achieve and touch what is salient.
What I am trying to tell you is that, you the parent and educator, need to know your child and the child.
Montessori is not just a this is what to do program or method , it has a why and a how. This is why training takes time.
Don’t just buy or copy the curriculum, get the training and understand in full.
One last thing, School owners…. please the responsibility of your curriculum is yours and not the class teacher’s! Stop asking your teachers to produce a curriculum for the class. You will produce an educational system with no direction! A confused school!