Thousands of classrooms all around the world have incorporated the Montessori method to some degree. These Montessori schools are known for their ability to foster independence in children. By running your own after school program, you likely share that same passion for developing social and critical thinking skills in young people.
The Montessori method is by no means limited to the traditional classroom. If you’re looking to refine your teaching methods as you run your own after school program, this method can be a great starting point. One of the best parts about educating kids is that you can bring your own teaching methods to the table—and by incorporating aspects of Montessori theory, you can help engage your students and create a space full of growth and curiosity.
How does Montessori theory promote learning?
Believe it or not, the Montessori teaching philosophy is over 100 years old, though it has seen most of its exponential rise take place since the 1990s. The method is based on hands-on activities, self-directed learning, and collaboration with classmates. Physical space is a crucial component of a Montessori education, as the teacher and the classroom provide age-appropriate activities and guidance for kids to explore. It’s all about kids having self-guided interaction with their environment.
Within this open framework, there are several principles that the environment should embody. The space should allow for movement and activity, incorporate nature (outdoor spaces are often a big part of the experience), and reflect cleanliness and harmony. There should be a limit on activities and materials available and accessible to students, so that the independence is guided on some level.
Montessori schools allow children to learn autonomously and teach them to think on an interdisciplinary level. Through experiential learning, and enhanced social interactions, Montessori schools have been shown to excel at cultivating social and emotional skills, while teaching inclusivity as well as fostering a love for learning in those children that receive such an education.
How is the Montessori method used today?
Montessori classrooms exist across the globe. Though some schools have the specific tag as a “Montessori school,” the teaching philosophy has permeated far outside of traditional classrooms and can absolutely be incorporated into after school programs as well.
Today, a Montessori classroom might feature the following components:
- Clean and uncluttered space
- Spaces for group activities, as well as couches and rugs
- Accessible items all over the classroom
- Well-defined areas for different parts of the curriculum (math, reading, etc.)
This basic structure is incredibly adaptable—there’s no one model for a Montessori-style learning space! By taking the space that you already have and providing greater opportunity for autonomy and choice from your students, you will be on your way to adopting Montessori principles.
How can you incorporate Montessori techniques into your teaching style?
Turning your classroom or after school program into a Montessori-style space can be easy. Here are some tips on how to get started.
1. Provide various activity stations for children to choose from
These areas should be clear and well-defined. Though you will give students the option as to which area they explore, you will provide structure through the layout of the room and activities in it.
2. Move from group to group instead of at the front of the class
Check in on different groups and move around. Even participate in the activities themselves and ask students questions about what they are doing and what they are learning.
3. Activity, Activity, Activity
A major component of the Montessori philosophy is staying active and flexible. Try to make your activities as hands-on as possible. Ditch the worksheets for engaging, tangible activities.
4. Explore Indoor and Outdoor Spaces
Montessori classrooms are by no means limited to classrooms. Hit the great outdoors and let the exploration and discovery continue.
The Montessori model could help transform your after school program. Whether you’re looking to jump in 100% to the Montessori approach, or simply pick and choose a few elements, these methods can be a wonderful way to modify your approach to teaching and learning.
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