The Montessori approach has steadily become more and more popular since its early days in Italy over a hundred years ago. Many daycares, preschools, and even elementary schools have been established using this method. These days, almost every parent has heard of Montessori, yet the approach is still not always understood.

Have you ever wondered what the Montessori approach is truly about? Let’s take a virtual tour of a Montessori classroom, noting the things that tend to stand out most about the approach.

The long work period

The first thing you notice, when you walk into a Montessori classroom, is all the kids intent on their tasks. The longer you observe, though, the more you notice something odd: This “work cycle” seems to stretch on and on, for two or three hours to be exact. If you’re more accustomed to traditional schools, this might seem ludicrous, but Maria Montessori and those who practice her method have found that kids do the best learning when you ask them to focus for a longer period of time. Usually the most intense focus comes after the “false fatigue,” which is roughly the same as an adult taking a coffee break before getting back to work.

Children moving freely about the classroom

The next thing you’ll notice is the impression of controlled chaos in the classroom. With every child doing a different, largely self-directed task, there’s no better way to describe the effect to someone unfamiliar with the Montessori method. Although the teacher sets the lesson plan for the day, the kids are largely free to explore learning on their own, and can move about the classroom from activity to activity as they wish.

Kids learning on their own

In addition to children choosing their own activities and moving freely about the classroom, most activities are self-directed, allowing the children to discover things for themselves. For instance, whereas a traditional lesson plan might dictate what to teach about dinosaurs, the Montessori method allows them to, say, assemble a dinosaur skeleton puzzle, or do research in books and online about dinosaurs.

Peer learning

Finally, you’ll notice that the Montessori approach encourages children to help one another learn. Traditionally, the Montessori approach groups a variety of ages together, so that the older children can help the younger ones. In addition to teaching the younger children, this provides an opportunity for older children to practice their skills. This also prepares children for the real world, in which age segregation is rare and peer learning is frequently an expectation, such as in the workplace.

Although this little virtual tour can give you an idea of what to expect when you walk into a Montessori classroom, some things need to be seen to be believed. If you want to learn more about the Montessori approach to preschool and daycare, and how it can benefit your child, contact the Montessori School of Flagstaff Sunnyside Campus today to schedule a complete tour of our school and the Montessori approach up close.