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Maria Montessori founded Montessori Education in 1907. According to Montessori, children are self-motivated to learn when they are placed in a conducive, learning environment. Montessori education became popular in the United States in the early 1900s. Its popularity dwindled by the 1920s. Montessori education became returned again to the United States in the 1960s. Montessori education covers the expanse from age 3 to 18, but concentrates on the primary grades.
Montessori Preschool and Self-Exploration
Most Montessori preschool programs cater to students who range in age from 3-6 years old. Students from all ages learn together in the same classroom. Montessori preschools promote self-exploration and self-directed learning. Children are taught the same skills as traditional preschool students, but the learning is individualized to each students learning rates and needs. Montessori preschools allow the students to move around the room to find the best place for learning. Students are able to participate in their choice of hands-on activities from a variety of possibilities. Students are expected to be responsible for their own learning by the promotion of independence and choice. Montessori instruction differs from traditional instruction in that children are encouraged to learn through the following:
- Hands-on activities
- Exploration instead of direct instruction by the teacher
It is believed that Montessori education helps promote a positive self-image, work ethic, and confidence. Most Montessori preschools try to keep a low teacher to student ratio to help promote the learning that takes place.
Montessori Preschool Learning Areas
Montessori preschool students are expected to collaborate with each other to help each other learn. Students are taught social skills to help with their learning interactions. Students work on projects that they can pull out and continue to work on at any time.
Usually the Montessori preschool classroom is divided into five different learning areas. These areas are:
There is a curriculum for each of these areas. Activity choices are based on the skills from the curriculum.