The Montessori Classroom is a dynamic place, created to honor the individuality of the child. The teacher in this classroom is not seen as the "sage on the stage" but rather the "guide on the side." The teacher observes where a child is ready to grow, by personal interest and design, and then provides and models the resources useful for growth. The Montessori classroom is a resource rich environment presenting numerous hands on learning experiences to children who are ready and desirous to learn.
Maria Montessori, Italy's first certified female physician, unlocked many attributes regarding children's learning that are agreeable to the principles of God. For example, she subscribed to a teaching method that included the following:
- Honoring the individuality of the child
- Providing learning opportunities based on a child's individual interests
- Providing learning to occur at the consent of the child
- Cultivating the whole child, body, mind, soul and spirit
- Nurturing social skills in the context of loving relationships
- Including real life hands on learning experiences
- Enjoying outdoor learning opportunities including taking care of the environment
Maria Montessori applied her observational skills as a medical practitioner in the classroom. By using the scientific method she removed herself from prescribing for her students a stagnant curriculum and rather provided a responsive design. Her responsive design model, which she called the scientific observation method, increases growth in the area where a child is most open to growth. These areas where a child is most open to growth, called sensitive periods, change over time and vary from child to child, thus the need for a responsive design.
Maria Montessori was first assigned as a doctor to children with great learning difficulties. Since her method was so considerate of the individual and their stage of development, as well as their personal interests, the end result was academic gain like that of "normal functioning children." The results led to the question, "If such results are possible with "learning disabled children" what results would "normal children" produce? The outcomes were astounding leading to the exponential expansion of Montessori schools around the globe. And today, many of the great and creative leaders we see throughout society have matriculated through the Montessori method.
Another attribute of the Montessori classroom is how it is more similar to that of a family. Students of various ages are seen studying different level of difficulty topics and in some case helping other students where they struggle. Both same age and different age relationship are developed simultaneously, more closely representing the reality we all live in. Research has shown that academic achievement in multi-age classrooms is equal to age stratified classrooms. What is different is in a multi-age classroom, the socio-emotional health of the students is higher than a same aged classroom.