The model has two basic principles. First, children and developing adults engage in psychological self-construction by means of interaction with their environments. Second, children, especially under the age of six, have an innate path of psychological development. Montessori education involves free activity within a "prepared environment". The environment exhibits the following characteristics:
- Beauty and harmony, cleanliness of environment
- Construction in proportion to the child and her/his needs
- Limitation of materials, so that only material that supports the child's development is included
- Nature in the classroom and outside of the classroom
- An environment that facilitates movement and activity
This type of education system showcases many positive aspects which include:
- Children become self-motivated and also enjoy learning. Most Montessori classrooms are mixed-age and intended to foster peer-to-peer learning which motivates them to start working individually or in small groups at their level which boosts their confidence level from a very young age.
- Children are exposed to a wider range of knowledge about the world around them. They explore geography, history and science holistically.
- Teachers are able to cater to the needs of each individual and each child is considered a singular entity. The students work at their own pace without any hurry.
- Children develop a desire and an ability to connect with a variety of people and ideas in many different situations and contexts and are exposed to lessons, activities and materials that build upon their skill set, and they progress in their development as an individual.
- The Montessori education uses sensory-based materials with its students, like the geometric solids, sand paper letters and the coloured bead stair used for arithmetic. These independently used materials provide students with the opportunity to develop their concentration and coordination in addition to more traditional academic learning.
- Manners are taught in a different way under this approach. Instead of being directed into specific behaviours, often without instruction, the Montessori Method uses role-playing to help children learn how to handle real-life situations. That includes skills that involve personal courtesy and grace.
- Students in a Montessori environment are in a small community and oftentimes spend years with the same peers. This can translate to children developing amazing friendships or it can be a constant learning environment for the development of social skills
- It is hard for Montessori schools to keep their prices low. The acquisition of so many durable and high-quality learning materials, as well as the lengthy and in-depth training in the use of such items for young children is an expensive undertaking
- Although some subjects are naturally suited to the Montessori Method, mathematics is not one of them. Math is a language that is based on specific facts and rules. The design of the Montessori Method would suggest that the answer could be whatever it needs to be in that moment for the child. In other words, using an extreme example, 1+1 could equal “Pizza.”
- Many students who have spent 3+ years in the Montessori Method find themselves struggling with certain rules and expectations in traditional schools. They’re used to exploring the world with a hands-on approach. Sitting in a classroom, exploring the world through textbooks and lectures, is a foreign concept to them that makes them feel uncomfortable.
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It is not aimed at disclosing the emotional sphere of the child and his communication skills, at stimulating imagination. In a Montessori group, many extrovert children usually feel bored, since by temperament they are more focused on the interaction not with the “environment”, but with other children. This is one of the main disadvantages of Montessori pedagogy.