Rather than talking about a Montessori curriculum, it would be more appropriate to entertain a conversation about Montessori pedagogy first, which is our approach to teaching. Teaching is an art and learning should be understood before anyone tries to teach.
In every Montessori classroom there are manipulatives designed by Dr Montessori; these are didactic – meaning they follow a scientific approach to teach a concept – and provide direction, strategy and content. Montessori educators ‘Guides’ are shown how to demonstrate a concept according to age and ability of each child, thus starting a customised form of learning/teaching.
The Montessori Curriculum is on the Shelves!
Each learning space, indoors and outdoors, is carefully prepared and the curriculum is available to children in a sequential learning progress on shelves. This is why you will often see photographs of classrooms with shelves as a very symbolic view of Montessori. The activities are easily accessed by each child after they have been presented. Each concept is provided in many ways so the brain retains the information easily and the learning style is defined by the learner in the way they then manipulate each material/activity. Concepts are isolated to reduce confusion; there is a control of error either within the activity itself or within the learner’s vicinity. By this we mean if the user makes a mistake, they will quickly realise this and then correct themselves. Self-correcting reduces judgement and increases confidence and motivation.
The Montessori curriculum is an integrated form of learning, so students see the interconnectedness of what they are learning and the relevance and purpose. In Australia we are required to align our Montessori curriculum to the National Australian Curriculum. This is done every time there is a change in the Australian curriculum. Students are not left to decide alone what they wish to learn, but are guided to what they are required to understand to progress their learning, using their own interests and meeting regulations of Australian educational authorities. However, all students are instrumental in guiding their own learning with the support of knowledgeable and highly trained individuals and are able to extend their knowledge in areas they are particularly drawn to. What becomes evident to any educator is that the Montessori Curriculum is able to meet all outcomes prescribed by the Australian Curriculum in a more individualized and active way.
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