Children learn in many ways, including listening, reading, seeing, and doing, and it’s important for them to be in an environment that makes them feel happy, secure, and confident to build their sense of mastery in their activities.
Sir Ken Robinson’s TED Talk, “Bring on the Learning Revolution,” inspired me to create a student-centered learning environment. My primary goal is to develop pre-K and kindergarten students’ motor skills and provide a strong foundation for the development of social, emotional, cognitive, and physical skills, in order to encourage lifelong learning.
I’ll share the Montessori strategies I’ve used and the benefits I have experienced with my students, as well as when and how they can be used in a non-Montessori classroom.
Dr. Maria Montessori believed that children learn better when they feel comfortable with what they are learning. She created unique learning materials for children that are still used in many Montessori classrooms and help students develop calm, cooperative behaviors. Montessori believed that when students experience and develop independence, they learn how society is organized and develop the skills needed to meet future challenges in a positive way.
As a Montessori-certified teacher, I use practices that assess the needs of each student individually, focusing on experiential learning, critical thinking, and problem-solving. This attention to student needs, in addition to an emphasis on sensorial and creative activities, helps reduce behavioral issues and gives students the freedom to choose their own activities and master them at their own pace.
The beginning of a school year isn’t easy. Being consistent with constraints (boundaries with rules and guidelines) is key to a successful Montessori environment. It takes me a week to assess my students and identify areas of improvement. As an early childhood educator, when I notice my students performing tasks incorrectly, I ask myself two questions: “Is there an appropriate way to correct it? What happens if I don’t?”
Simple errors, when identified and addressed at an early stage, create an opportunity for students to overcome future hurdles in their learning path. But how should we correct them? Teachers often remind kindergarten and first-grade students to hold their pencils or crayons properly, but actions speak louder than words, and instead of just telling students what to do, I feel it’s important to introduce Montessori sensorial materials to students at the pre-K and kindergarten level that encourage the motor skills they’ll need as they continue on in school.
Montessori materials aren’t cost-friendly, and many public schools don’t have a budget for implementing the Montessori method of education. However, teachers can combine blended learning models that Michael Horn and Heather Staker suggest, such as station rotation, with Montessori-based activities.