Written by: Heather White
The Montessori Method has transformed from a pedagogy into a way of life. With that, Montessori has moved from classroom spaces into homeschooling methodologies and a lifestyle for many parents/caregivers and their children. No one approach is better than the other; the most important thing is the ability to meet the needs of your child, your family, and your space. I recognize how confusing it may be to see so many different types of Montessori spaces based on various settings, so I have taken the time to introduce different types of Montessori spaces and places, discussing their similarities and differences so that you are best equipped to choose the model that is the best fit for you and your child.
Foundational Montessori principles found in all four approaches include:
- Respect for the child
- A prepared environment
- Providing opportunities for independence
- Promoting freedom with limits
- Hands-on activities
- Following the child
- Developing intrinsic motivation
Being Montessori inspired means implementing pieces of the Montessori philosophy in your home that appeal to your child and your family and adapting it to what works best for you. Montessori inspired can also describe the practice of creating a material or toy based on the aesthetics of traditional Montessori materials.
Montessori at home
Montessori at home incorporates the foundational principles of Montessori into a family’s daily life. At the core of this approach, the parent or caregiver recognizes the child as a contributing member of the family unit and offers them the respect which they deserve. Parents or caregivers involve the child in the tasks of daily life and help to foster their independence with these activities. There may be a variety of toys including a mix of Montessori materials and open ended activities that are set up based on observations of the parent or caregiver’s child or children including their current interests and developmental level. The space also features a mix of child-sized furniture and tools. A daily rhythm may be established in which the child uses toys on and off throughout the day. Activities may occur more spontaneously throughout the day, with or without the need for materials from the shelf.
Montessori homeschooling is the creation and implementation of a Montessori classroom in a home setting. In this approach, parents or caregivers will take the Montessori at home approach one step further, introducing Montessori lessons using traditional materials. They follow the unique scope and sequence that comprises the Montessori pedagogy with academic content areas including mathematics, language arts, and cosmic studies (science, history, geography, etc.).
Montessori classrooms are the prepared environments that are carefully curated to implement the practice of the Montessori philosophy and method in its most authentic form, true to the teachings of Maria Montessori. The key differences in this approach to the others include a multi-age group of children, trained guides who observe and follow the child, and a wide range of traditional Montessori materials precisely arranged by content area (practical life, sensorial, math, language, and cosmic) and in sequential order from least to most difficult. The environment consists primarily, or only of, child-sized furniture. A daily schedule is established and followed including a full, three-hour work cycle. Children engage with formal shelf work during work periods.