5 Things you won’t see in a primary Montessori classroom.
1. Tons of Papers and Worksheets. Most of the work done in a Montessori classroom for ages 3-6 is done using didactic concrete materials, not on worksheets or workbooks. If you are a Montessori parent, you may see a few papers with open-ended art or drawings. Some schools do use worksheets and workbooks as an extension of the materials, but it is not the first lesson on the skill shown on paper. It would be rare to see a stapled, stamped or stickered pile of papers each day.
2. The teacher’s desk. The Primary Classroom is the children’s house, therefore all furniture is child-sized and prepared exactly for their plane of development. A teacher may have a high shelf or a staff room for storage, but in most cases, the classroom is for the children only.
3. Row’s of desks, and an obvious front and back of the room.The layout of the typical Montessori Classroom is by area (Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, Math, Science, Geography/History) and the children are able to move around the room to work or browse for an activity. They physically work on floor mats or on child-sized tables placed all over the room in groupings or single work spaces. Due to the nature of Montessori Philosophy, the teacher does not stand in front of a chalkboard and lecture. The teachers give small group lessons all over the room, wherever the child is- at the child’s level. It may be hard to figure out what is front and back in a Montessori classroom, since the layout is by area and spaced out all over the classroom. By standing in the center of the room, you will probably see all of the class and the majority of the pathways and work areas.
4. All of the children working on the same lesson simultaneously. With the exception of a small group lesson, or circle time, the class is not taught to do the same activity all at the same time. Each child is taught at their own individual level, at their own pace, in their own interest area.
5. Rewards. Children in Montessori aren’t (or rarely and sparingly) rewarded with stamps, stickers, or treats. The goal of the environment and the goal of the philosophy is that the children are intrinsically motivated, operating on their own wish to learn. Rewards are encouragement from the outside, whereas Montessori Schools aim to inspire the child to want to do the work for their own joy.
Jessie is a Primary Montessori Teacher and Mom to twin three year olds and a five year old. Jessie has a Montessori blog at The Education Of Ours, and can be found on Twitter. See her other Mommy Moment posts here.
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