When we watch a Montessori classroom in action, we notice key elements which make this environment unlike any other. The children enjoy the freedom of movement, walking about the classroom to pick up work, collaborate with friends on lessons and utilize the myriad of opportunities through various works, books and conversation to further their knowledge in any subject matter. When this process of learning, also consisting of the work cycle, is complete, any guide will tell you that the child is satisfied and joyful. From this we can garner as much, the specific freedoms in the Montessori classroom help. When we look deeper, do we see how the process of coming together as a new class, establishing ground rules, connecting and developing the ability to enhance each other’s intellect, social skills and talents- take this newly formed class to a whole new level. A corporate executive and parent, once mentioned after learning about how Montessori children problem-solve, that if the teams at work knew how to collaborate in this manner-their world would indeed be a happy place!
This ‘happy place’ is the result of an excellent guide, providing the keys to the universe and enabling the children to discover and add to their learning through this rich socio-cultural-academic setting. The caring, sharing and collaboration we observe in the classrooms comes from the joy intrinsic to learning, when children are able to drive their activity and are empowered to choose their daily direction in and out of the classroom. When adults can introspect on this for a moment, can we see how any highly-functioning team in any work setting, would benefit from these freedoms, the freedom to collaborate and aid in the development of others, while also developing ourselves? Would we not have more joy in the workplace if compassionate problem-solving is encouraged as it is in the Montessori classroom?
In children’s research, a meta-analysis of multiple studies on the impact of movement in the academic setting and its impact on cognition and learning found, consistently, that there is benefit intellectually and socially when movement in included in learning. The education of the “whole child” therefore, includes both physical and mental (1). There are a number of more recent studies as well which point to the same effect, but this explained it more clearly.
Therefore, as we support our child’s journey through Montessori, we can rest assured we are aiding in the development of the holistic child, in preparation for life and providing them tools that could contribute to the lifelong love of learning.
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Sibley, B. and Etnier, J. (2003). The Relationship between Physical Activity and Cognition in Children: A Meta-Analysis. Pediatric Exercise Science. 15. DOI: 10.1515/ijsl.2000.143.183