“Child Centered” and the Montessori method

I just toured a potential parent, and found myself describing “child centered environment” to her. Somehow that term can sound like we are perhaps overly indulgent (i.e., not tough enough on them), but I am grateful that this is the environment my own children have been in. Here are some examples of “child centeredness:”

Prairie Winds Farm

Children spend one afternoon a week at the farm

Advanced children are not told to wait until the others catch up, nor are the children who are a bit delayed told to hurry and catch up because everyone is waiting.

Systems are never put in place for the adult’s convenience, but they are put into place for the child’s learning.

We expect that children are here to practice; they practice Math, Language, Cultural Studies, etc., and that they are not expected to be done learning everything there is to know. Likewise, they are practicing the way they interact with others, so our sense of “discipline” is respectful of the child and recognizes that this is all about practice. “Because I am the adult and I said so, and therefore you will obey” is not on our list of ways to help children learn how to be with each other in a manner that is just and compassionate.

The child chooses work. Guided by trained adults who are familiar with the scope and sequence of our three-year curriculum, the child is presented materials and then chooses when he or she will do the work. Research supports this approach (humans learn best when they are giving the opportunity to choose), and it is, indeed, child centered–respectful of the child’s unique needs and abilities.

Establishing a true sense of community is central to what we do, and every member of that community matters, adult and child.

Learning methods, deadlines, and ground rules all consider not only the immediate need of the moment, but the long range development of the child. It is easier to get them quiet and compliant for my immediate satisfaction than it is to treat them in a manner by which they are learning important academic and developmental principles that will move with them as they grow.

Being child-centered is a basic tenet of a Montessori education; it is challenging and enlivening, and creates a vibrant and rich environment for the child.

lower elementary classroom enviornment

Children work in the lower elementary environment

Explore posts in the same categories: elementary education, Montessori Method, Uncategorized

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