Montessori, An Education for the 21st Century and Beyond

Montessori, An Education for the 21st Century and Beyond

Montessori and The Four C’s of Success

Ensuring that children have the skills they need to succeed in the digital age is one of the most important issues for 21st century education.

Research has identified that students need to develop specific skills to be attractive to digital age employers. These include: critical thinking, collaboration, creativity and communication; otherwise known as ‘The Four C’s.’

These skills can’t be taught by teaching children to memorise and repeat. They must develop these skills through rich learning experiences that inspire them to master these skills over time.

Critical Thinking

Montessori education encourages children to develop critical thinking skills by providing them with hands-on learning materials.

Each Montessori material is specifically designed to isolate one concept or skill, and has an inbuilt control of error, which allows the child to ‘discover’ the outcome of the material independent of an adult.

The self-correcting aspects of the materials encourage children to organise their thinking, problem solve in a clear way, and absorb the concept or skill area at their own pace.

The role of the Montessori teacher is to facilitate this learning process and encourage their students to understand and control their own errors. These critical thinking skills lay the foundations for problem solving, analysis, and informed decision making.

Collaboration

The Montessori program encourages children to develop strong social skills through interactive learning experiences and cooperative play. In Montessori, it is common for children to be grouped with peers that are within a three-year age range.

Multi-age classrooms ensure that children moving through the group are exposed to both older and younger peers, encouraging imitative learning, peer tutoring, and all round collaboration.

This structure to the Montessori environment leads to the development of a harmonious classroom community, which creates the optimal learning environment for children.

Creativity

Montessori education recognises that creativity is not a skill that is learned, so much as it evolves from a long process of cognitive development. This process begins when the child is born, and develops spontaneously as the child’s intelligence becomes established over time.

Creativity is crucial in Montessori education as it is viewed as a way that children come to understand their world and construct themselves through self-expression.

The Montessori method fosters creativity by providing children with an environment that allows for freedom within boundaries. Within this space, children have freedom of movement, the ability to choose their own work, and opportunities to create and construct.

The guiding role of the Montessori teacher reduces anxiety and fear of judgement, leaving room for exploration, concentration, and independent learning. Clear rules, a strong sense of community, and supportive guidance provide children with the environment needed to foster creativity.

Communication

In Montessori, the development of communication skills is reinforced through the practical life and language program.

Through practical life lessons in grace and courtesy, children learn to be courteous and respectful of others. Every school day students practice proper greetings, such as “please” and “thank you,” and using eye contact when speaking.

The development of communications skills is also reinforced through the language curriculum, which immerses children in the world of spoken language, writing, and reading.

Montessori materials, such as the sandpaper letters, provide children with the foundations for identifying and writing the alphabet.

Language materials progress in difficulty as children begin to learn site words and develop the visual and auditory tracking skills required for reading and writing.

Montessori and Digital Age Skills

So how does Montessori education prepare children for the challenges of the 21st century? The prepared environment fosters self-disciple, responsibility, creativity, and individuality through freedom of choice and a focus on independence.

The guiding role of the Montessori teacher encourages students to follow their passions, learn from their mistakes, and self-motivate.

Our classroom communities nurture communication and social skills by teaching children respect for themselves and others.

The Montessori materials teach children to think critically and problem solve through experience and practice.

Montessori education has been integrating the four c’s into early childhood education for more than 100 years. For this reason, it is and will continue to be the best way to prepare children for school and life success.

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