The Montessori method of education was developed by the first female Italian doctor, Maria Montessori, in the early 20th century. As a scientist and doctor, she carefully observed children and designed a school meant to work in harmony with their nature and development rather than fight it. We now call this approach "whole-child" education.
PDMA students learn by working with specially designed materials. Maria Montessori observed that children need to move and learn through experiences, rather than through sitting and listening to a teacher.
Montessori classrooms include mixed ages and mixed skill-levels, generally divided into three year groups (e.g., 3-6 year olds, 6-9 year olds, 9-12). Younger children learn by observing the capacities of those older, while the older students have an opportunity to lead and solidify their own knowledge.
Montessori schools typically have long, uninterrupted work periods (generally 2-3 hours depending on age). Rather than having 30 minutes for math and then 30 minutes for language, children have a long morning and afternoon work period in one classroom that includes all of the subjects. This unhurried time allows children to engage with the materials deeply and reach intense concentration.
In addition to math, language, and science, Montessori schools include two other academic areas: practical life and sensorial. Practical life consists of exercises to help children learn skills used in everyday life. For young children, this includes carefully pouring water, tying their shoes, and scrubbing a table. For older children, this includes things like budgeting and starting a small business.
Sensorial is the education of the senses, and is most prevalent in classrooms for young children. Montessori believed that children learn through their senses and there are materials specifically designed to help them refine their sense of smell, hearing, etc.
PDMA classrooms have one teacher and one classroom assistant. These educators are a guide, rather than a traditional teacher. A Montessori instructor mindfully introduces academic materials at the developmentally appropriate time for the individual student.
Often times, PDMA teachers are hard to find in the classroom, as they are generally working one-on-one with a child, rather than standing at the front of the room talking to the whole group. Maria Montessori saw the role of the teacher as providing children with tools for learning, rather than drilling knowledge and facts into them.
Learning in a Montessori school is child-directed. A teacher gives a child a lesson on a concept they hasn’t used before, and then guides them to interact with the material in a practical way, hands-on way. Our students choose where to sit and what to work on, with guidance from a teacher.
Montessori focuses on educating the whole child: intellectually, physically. socially and emotionally. These four aspects of the child drives how we present information and interact with our students every day. Each aspect is of equal importance.
A Montessori classroom is one of individualized learning according to the needs of each student. Rather than giving group lessons, Montessori teachers give one-on-one lessons to each student depending on his specific level and needs. This is possible because the children largely work independently, spending much of the day practicing and perfecting work they have already been given a lesson on.
Montessori classrooms are referred to as a “prepared environment.” The PDMA environment whether onsite or distance learning, is designed with everything the student needs to explore and learn independently. Classrooms are filled with low shelves and beautiful materials to entice children to want to learn and work. Distance learning materials and virtual reality experiences are thoughtfully created to engage the learner's senses.