Montessori teaches essential skills that children need to develop to thrive in the 21st century. This is accomplished through the Montessori method and curriculum.
Montessori teaches an array of important real-world skills. These skills are critical thinking, social skills, collaboration, and creativity.
The Montessori curriculum and method of teaching ensure children have the skillset they need to be successful in life! Read on to find out how exactly Montessori helps children to develop these crucial skills.
What Skills Does Montessori Teach?
Montessori teaches children skills to ensure they are set up for success in life. The Montessori curriculum is designed to teach children how to think critically, communicate, collaborate with others, and harness their creativity.
These skills are taught using the Montessori method, meaning through a child-led hands-on approach. The skills taught through the Montessori curriculum prepare children for the world outside the classroom.
In a Montessori environment, learning organically takes place. Children do not learn by memorizing facts or methods but by actively engaging with Montessori materials or by auto-education.
Critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity are skills learned while working through the five areas of the Montessori curriculum. These five areas are Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, Mathematics, and Cultural Studies.
So, how are skills taught in Montessori?
The Montessori curriculum and method of teaching encourage children to learn how to think critically through the use of Montessori materials. Montessori materials are used to develop one specific skill set at a time. They are close-ended, which means they have a clear beginning, middle, and end. There is only one desired outcome when working with Montessori materials.
Montessori materials teach children how to think critically because children must solve the problem to complete the action. If a child struggles to complete the task or makes an error, they are presented with the opportunity to self-correct. This means a child will try to figure out where they went wrong, by retracing their steps.
When children have to self-correct when using Montessori materials, they have to organize their thoughts. A child must think about what they did at the beginning of the task, where it went wrong, and why it happened.
As a child repeats the process, analyzing where they went wrong and fixing it, they are controlling their errors. While doing this, they are learning how to problem solve, think logically and sequentially, and therefore, think critically.
Social Skills and Communication
The Montessori philosophy and method center around the belief that all children have the ability and capacity to learn. This same understanding is applied to communication. Children can develop a language and learn how to communicate effectively using their language.
In a Montessori environment, children learn how to communicate effectively and develop social skills through several areas of study. Two areas, in particular, Practical Life and Language, help children to develop strong communication skills.
The Practical Life curriculum includes a group of activities called Grace and Courtesy. Essentially, Grace and Courtesy teach children how to communicate effectively and politely. These activities entail greeting students and teachers, shaking hands in greeting, and practicing saying ‘please’, and ‘thank you.’
Grace and Courtesy lessons include role-playing different social scenarios, such as how to welcome a visitor, how to solve a disagreement, and how to ask a question. Additionally, children are taught how to communicate their feelings.
Effective communication is further enhanced while children engage in the Language curriculum. Children learn how to read and write through hands-on immersive activities. When children learn how to read and write, they gain an understanding of how people can communicate.
Multi-age classrooms are a hallmark of Montessori education. Children are grouped with peers who are within a three-year-age range. This important aspect of Montessori education helps children to learn how to collaborate with other children of varying ages.
A Multi-age Montessori classroom helps children to develop social skills and teaches them how to interact and collaborate as they gradually move through the group. Older children learn how to interact with younger children, and vice versa.
The Montessori prepared environment or classroom allows children to move about freely. Rather than being forced to sit in a specific place, children are free to choose where and with whom they would like to sit. This freedom of movement and choice encourages peer interaction and collaboration.
The younger children in this environment engage in imitative play and learning from observing the older children, while older children tutor the younger members of the class.
Harnessing Creativity the Montessori Way
Montessori schools are known for discouraging pretend play, which some may see as discouraging imagination and creativity. This is not the case! Through a Montessori lens, creativity is seen as something every child naturally possesses and is viewed as a natural process, that develops as a child develops.
Maria Montessori believed creativity should only be harnessed once children have mastered their environment and that it stems from a child’s understanding and mastery of the real world. The Montessori method naturally helps children to hone their creative capabilities.
Fostering creativity in children in a Montessori classroom is done in several ways, beginning with the prepared environment. The prepared environment is a peaceful, ordered environment designed to optimize learning opportunities for each child in the classroom.
Children are free to move about the environment choosing their work and where they would like to sit or engage. This allows children the freedom to develop their independence and master their environment, thus helping them to harness their natural creativity.
Working with the Montessori materials is another way children naturally harness their creativity. Each material is designed so that children can visually see where they have made an error, which they then self-correct. This self-correction encourages not just critical thinking but also creativity.
What Other Skills Does Montessori Teach?
In addition to teaching children how to collaborate, think critically, communicate and harness their creativity, Montessori encourages the development of many other skills. The Montessori method and curriculum teach children how to be independent, self-motivated, and self-disciplined.
Montessori Practical Life exercises teach children how to wash their hands, serve food, clean their environment, wait in line and prepare food. Children in a Montessori environment learn how to treat their peers, guides (teachers), and themselves with respect. Montessori gives children the skills they need to become successful members of society.