1.WHAT IS A MONTESSORI ELEMENTARY CLASSROOM LIKE?
A Montessori classroom is an exciting place to be. There are many interesting and beautiful resources with which the children can work. There are many interesting books on a wide assortment of topics such as on insects, plants, animals, different countries, history, etc.. However, textbooks, workbooks, and ditto sheets are not used. Instead, children work with many different concrete materials which help them to learn through an active process.
In using these materials the children may make their own books, draw their own maps or time lines, and develop their own projects. As a result, the classroom is a busy, happy place to be.
Since the classroom is well organized, with the intention of making all the materials visible and accessible for the children, the children can find what they want and work without having to wait for the teacher. Some children may be reading while others are doing math. Some people may be studying about ants while others are listening to classical music on headphones.
The children are all engaged in purposeful activity which leads and develops the intelligence. The materials set out in the room have been carefully designed with an educational purpose in mind. Because of this, the children are free to move from activity to activity. They don't need to wait for assignments from the teacher. Meanwhile, the teacher is free to help individuals or small groups.
The teacher is not tied to a routine of having to present a series of large group lessons to the whole class. The classroom is activity-centered rather than teacher-centered. The teacher's job is to prepare the classroom, set out the materials, and then observe the children and determine how to help. The teacher does not need to test the children because it is easy to see how they children are doing by observing their activities.
In this way, the teacher can have immediate, up-to-date information about any child without time being taken way from learning and without threat of failure being imposed upon the child. Without the threat of failure, and with so many intriguing things to do, discipline problems disappear and a friendly, cooperative social community forms. Cooperation rather than competition becomes the tone of the room and adversarial relationships disappear, becoming friendships.