“Development takes the form of a drive toward an ever-greater independence. It is like an arrow released from the bow, which flies straight, swift and sure. The child’s conquest of independence begins with his first introduction to life. While he is developing, he perfects himself and overcomes every obstacle that he finds in his path.”
The Montessori approach
Montessori helps your child develop a fundamental, enduring love of learning and the deeply ingrained social, emotional, and academic skills they need to succeed as an adult. Montessori combines highly intentional learning materials, rich social development, and a joyous approach to practiced independence.
Our singular mission at Guidepost is to guide and empower each child as she grows in her independence.
In every child lives limitless human potential. For the child to realize that potential is to confidently grow and to joyously learn. It is to create and to love herself while gaining the knowledge to form a unique vision of her singular life. It is the security to live that vision, to dare greatly, to love others.
The Montessori approach to human development is based on the belief in the potential of the child, and on the belief that it is only the child herself who can realize this potential. To grow up well is to grow up to be increasingly independent — to be increasingly capable, increasingly confident, increasingly secure, increasingly able to meet one’s own needs, forming one’s own values, and authoring one’s own life. Our job as caretakers is to understand and to love this process as it unfolds for children in our care, and to support the child in blazing her trail.
The circumstances of children are as varied as children themselves. The specific needs, the precise resources available, the particular constraints faced by each child and each family are different. As times change, there is a need to keep step and to ensure that the application is timely. But the fundamental need is timeless: to help the child achieve her own development. So, too, is the fundamental method: to provide the child with material, environment, and guidance that is lovingly optimized to support her in that work.
The support a child’s caretakers can provide for her burgeoning independence is multifaceted:
- We can provide materials and inspiration for her to do the work of growing and learning. Every child learns to walk, but not every child learns to walk in a way that feels like an exciting challenge, that redounds upon her confidence. So it is with all of human development and knowledge.
- The child achieves her own development by engagement and by practice. From grasping an object for the first time, to eating independently, to toileting, to putting her world to words—to the whole world of knowledge, of nature and quantity and life and culture—the effort that children put in can be magnified by thoughtful learning materials and guidance.
- We can carefully support a child’s environment, creating a wonderful world for her in which to grow up. Children are constantly interacting with and absorbing experiences from their environment. One of the best things we can do for a child is to set up a space where she can be maximally independent and efficacious, a space that is to her comprehensible and enticing, a space that is aesthetically and pedagogically rich. Whether it’s at school or at home, the principles are the same: a world that is accessible, orderly, and enticing is a world that is supportive of a child’s growth.
- We can prepare ourselves as caretakers of the child. Raising children is as demanding as it is rewarding. It requires that we spend ourselves in understanding and love, that we thoughtfully navigate the stages of a unique child’s development, and that have the self-awareness to manage our own lives, motivation, and energy as we do so.
- It is tremendously beneficial to both the child and her caretakers to elevate a teaching and parenting philosophy to consciousness, to take an integrated approach to the infinite texture of a child’s growth toward independence.
- Finally, we can connect with others, other parents, other teachers, other developmentalists and pedagogues, each of whom adds their own experience and wisdom to our accumulated knowledge about child development. Montessori is not just a philosophy of human development. It is also an applied pedagogy, one with over a century of validation, refinement, and grassroots international growth. Guidepost, and each member of our community, benefits tremendously by participating in that movement and history.
Guidepost Montessori is many things. It is a network of Montessori schools. It is a community of Montessori parents and educators. It is a growing encyclopedia of Montessori resources. Iit is virtual and at-home and self-serve Montessori programming. The common denominator, the undercurrent, is the Montessori approach of fostering independence in developing human beings.
Our view of what is the desired outcome of a Montessori Education
We can provide materials and inspiration for her to do the work of growing and learning. Every child learns to walk, but not every child learns to walk in a way that feels like an exciting challenge.
The child achieves her own development by engagement and by practice. From grasping an object for the first time, to eating independently, to toileting, to putting her world to words — to the whole world of knowledge, of nature and quantity and life and culture.
We can carefully support a child’s environment, creating a wonderful world for her in which to grow up. Children are constantly interacting with and absorbing experiences from their environment.
The work of the child
Children learn by playing. The last several decades have seen a widespread recognition of the importance of the natural play of children to their growth and development. Montessori herself played a part in spreading this awareness, but she also recognized much of what children do, including some aspects of play, as valuable forms of work.
Part of recognizing that children are creating themselves is that they are putting effort into doing so. Even young infants set simple goals, such as grasping a nearby object, and then voluntarily direct incredible amounts of energy toward that goal, over extended periods of time and in spite of distractions. This process is a major part of what spurs development. As a result of this work, the goals, the actions, and the time and energy the child spends all naturally expand in scope — and the child conquers each milestone, separately and in increasingly integrated concert.
Curiosity is at the heart of our approach
The centerpiece of Guidepost’s Montessori approach is the creation of conditions in which the child can perform this deep, developmental engagement. “The role of education,” at all levels, Montessori wrote, “is to interest the child profoundly in an external activity to which he will give all his potential” (FCTA p. 11). The fundamental impetus for this effort comes from within the child; our job is to ensure that the activities and materials that she engages with are challenging and valuable, and that they inspire her to keep the flame of inner curiosity burning.
The result? Children who grow by their own effort. Children who genuinely experience success independently. Children who are joyously earning confidence. Children who know that they can do real things and engage in real learning. Children whose growth and learning are coeval with their burgeoning spiritual independence. “The calm, serene child, attached to reality, begins to achieve his elevation through work” (SOC 22, p. 162).
At Guidepost Montessori, all of our curriculum and pedagogy — both inside and outside of our classrooms — is designed to enable the work of the child:
- We optimize for sustained concentration over time, allowing a child to build her capacity not just to make choices but to learn the joy of persisting in them.
- We use highly designed learning materials and activities. The sequence of Montessori learning materials is designed to give a child foundational learning experiences — in motor control, sensorial exploration, math, literacy, and human culture—that systematically build on one another. The result: the priceless advantage of foundational knowledge and skills, and the habit and joy of lifelong learning.
- We help children do things that are meaningful to them. “Practical life” includes supporting infants in the process of their own weaning, helping children learn to love maintaining the cleanliness of their space, scaffolding for older children the organization of their own time and energy, and more. With the right materials, environment, and adult perspective, a child can actually practice her natural desire to participate in her human life.
The work of the child is to create herself: to create her own knowledge and abilities by struggle and practice, to create her own sense of self-worth, to create her own connection to the world and to people within it.
At Guidepost, we fuse our love for the child with an understanding of her work — by offering the child an endless set of choices and tools worthy of her effort.
Ideas from the Guidepost Blog
Parenting tips, Montessori explainers and strategies for helping your child become an independent, capable human being — The Guidepost Team is here to help parents succeed
How Montessori at Home Improved the Lives of an Innovative English Family
The Montessori Method helped Florence Taylor connect with her son and become a better adult, regardless of how childishly others reacted to her parenting techniques.
The Guidepost Glossary of Montessori
From A to Z, a comprehensive breakdown of all the Montessori terms you need to know
Giving children the keys to life
Guidepost Montessori enables children to understand the world and choose their place within it.
With over 120 campuses across the US and Asia, and at-home and virtual learning programs serving more than 10,000 families worldwide, Guidepost is the world’s largest Montessori network.
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Do you want to learn more about Montessori? Visit The Prepared Montessorian for flexible online courses, from beginner to expert level.