When you observe a Primary Montessori class at work it may be difficult to get a sense of the big picture. Some students may be working on maths, some reading, while others may be working on science. In the corner, the Class Director may be giving a lesson to a small group of children, occasionally glancing up to keep an eye on the rest of the class. The classroom may appear to be unstructured, but purposeful activity is basic to the independent learning and self-directed activity of the Montessori approach.
Each child is considered an individual. Class Directors strive to challenge each child according to their developmental needs and abilities. The work period encourages choosing a variety of appropriately challenging work.
Montessori Primary education gives children the opportunity to continue to progress at their own pace in an environment that nurtures a love of learning. Children take responsibility for their own learning and have daily opportunities to make decisions and choices in a child-centred environment. They are exposed to many complex concepts at an early age through the use of wonderful concrete learning materials. It is not unusual to see 7 year olds in a Montessori environment constructing atomic and molecular models, 9 year olds analyse the squares of trinomials, while 10 year olds solve algebraic equations and 12 year olds compute the square roots of large numbers. A parent who has watched their children thrive both intellectually and socially in the Children’s House (3 – 6 year olds) will see this development continuing in Primary School.
At the Primary School level, Montessori students learn to think for themselves. They are encouraged to do their own research, analyse what they have found and come to their own conclusions. The Montessori Method teaches students to think, not simply to memorise, feed back and forget. Students become fully engaged in the learning process. Rather than present students with all the ‘right answers’, Montessori teachers ask the ‘right questions’, and challenge them to find new solutions or discover the answers on their own. This prepares children to succeed in the real world of ideas, enterprise and challenging perspectives. Why? Because although learning the right answers may get children through school, learning how to learn will prepare them for life.