The Montessori approach to Education and Homeschooling

The Montessori approach to Education is an alternate educational method developed by Maria Montessori during the 1900s. This approach is specifically suited for younger children at elementary school levels and is based on self-directed activity by the child and clinical observation by the teachers. The Montessori approach places emphasis on adopting the child’s learning environment to suit the needs of the child. Normal learning in the Montessori approach involves lots of physical activity that helps in absorbing abstract concepts as well as practical skills.

Historically, the Montessori approach began as a post graduate research paper by Maria Montessori on the intellectual development of children with developmental disabilities. She began developing an environment that would typically help these students. Her approach towards the intellectual development of children with disabilities was a huge success. She immediately began moving her research towards children without disabilities. Her techniques in creating a learning environment was extremely effective and helped children learn faster and grasp new knowledge and skills easily. The Montessori approach is self-directive, interactive and material oriented. The key feature involves a teacher observing the children performing the selected tasks.

The main idea of Montessori approach towards education is based on the following premises:

  • Children are capable of self-directed learning.
  • By using teachers more as ‘observers’ than ‘lecturers’, key areas of development of a student can be identified.
  • Learning a skill (even sitting, walking, reading and counting) is natural in a particularly sensitive period. Beyond this period it gets difficult and frustrating.
  • Children aged below 6 have a better capacity to absorb concepts.
  • Children should be the masters of the school room environment.
  • Children learn better when they ‘discover’ things themselves.
  • Children learn alone during periods of concentration. They are not to be disturbed by teachers at this time.
  • Children learn better if they touch and feel real material objects. This also aids in better development of the brain.

Implementing the Montessori approach as a part of homeschooling would first require the creation of a good study environment. Children should be in a pleasing classroom that would encourage them to study at their own pace. They should have easy access to outside environment. It is considered good if the classroom has plants, windows and small pets, if possible, to have an experience of the natural world while studying.

The studies in this approach are divided into distinct areas. ‘Practical life’ would allow the children to develop a sense of care for themselves, others around them and nature. Children learn how to perform daily activities like using basic kitchen utensils, dressing up, doing chores, cleaning up and so on. The ‘Sensorial’ area concentrates on training the senses. This is done through visuals, audio and other methods. Shapes, colors and sizes are taught. The Montessori approach emphasizes on learning the exact terminology for things being taught. The ‘Cultural’ area covers topics on cultures all over the world. Pictures of other nations, festivals, maps and other helpful materials can be used for this. The ‘Science’ area is meant to develop the natural questioning ability of the child. The children are encouraged to wonder about the way things work in nature. The ‘Language’ area concentrates on teaching the basics of language. The Montessori technique has developed an excellent way of using shapes for parts of a sentence to make things easy to understand. The ‘Math’ area is all about math. Here again, there is a lot of overlap with the sensorial area as visual aids are often used to make the understanding of numbers and operations simpler.

Melissa Murdoch has a passion for life span development and education, and believes wholeheartedly that a healthy society begins at home.  For further information on how to get started in homeschooling, please visit

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