The Montessori Approach
Montessori focuses on teaching for understanding. Unlike other approaches, Montessori is based on the foundation that students learn not through rote memorization but by gaining a deep understanding of concepts over time. Through the use of specialized Montessori materials, children first engage in a sensorial experience that becomes the basis of an identified concept in a later lesson. Thoroughly grounded in this sensorial experience, students have a deeper understanding as they transition up to increasingly abstract understandings. For example, the child in Primary level works at putting together the multi-colored pieces of a cube and uses that experience later, at the Elementary level, to understand that the faces of the cube are a physical representation of squaring. Even later, the child uses the initial experience to understand that the pieces correspond to the elements of the algebraic binomial formula.
In the Montessori approach, the teacher, the child, and the environment form a learning triangle. The student may be exploring using Montessori materials as the teacher guides and observes making notations about the child’s progress. Students benefit as they are supported in becoming active seekers of knowledge and lifetime learners.