One of the many benefits of Montessori education is the character development that naturally occurs as a function of its unique approach to learning and education. Maria Montessori felt that children possess the inherent capacity for respect, independence, and a love of learning, and the practice of the Montessori Method lends itself to the cultivation of children’s innate positive characteristics.
One of the cornerstone principles of the Montessori Method is respect for the child. This is demonstrated in the classroom when children are met at their unique and individual developmental stage and are treated as experts in their learning process. Instead of being seen as incomplete and in need of governance, children are seen as whole and capable humans with an immense capacity for growth. Montessori teachers demonstrate the kindness they want to cultivate in their students by helping them do and learn for themselves. By giving ownership of their education to the students, the teachers empower them to make choices that are beneficial to themselves, their peers, and the classroom environment. Children observe and practice integrity, responsibility, and empathy – the fundamentals of respect.
The Montessori classroom is prepared in a way that encourages children to develop autonomy. The amenities of the classroom, such as sinks, bathrooms, cleaning supplies, and items for food preparation are all made accessible so children can meet their own needs. The room is kept uncluttered and organized so children gain confidence in their ability to explore and navigate it without assistance. The curriculum, from primary to upper elementary Montessori programs, allows children to direct their learning and dive deeper into their interests as they gain greater and greater competence in language, mathematics, practice life skills, and other subjects. Their growing abilities and eventual mastery fosters self-esteem and shows the benefits of self-discipline.
Love of Learning
Maria Montessori believed children can educate themselves if provided with supportive teachers and a prepared environment. She thought children have an innate curiosity and learned best through unimpeded, direct interaction with the world around them. Montessori education leverages these characteristics to empower children to learn what they love, and come to love learning. For anyone, it is a gratifying experience to wonder, ask a question, and seek out and find the answer. No child is too young to enjoy that experience and to start a lifelong practice of leaning into curiosity, a practice that can begin in the Montessori classroom.