It’s no question that gaining and keeping a child’s attention can be difficult. There are many ways teachers attempt to engage students, however not all students learn the same way or share interests. Fortunately, in classrooms like those influenced by the Montessori method, a hands-on approach is used alongside the curriculum. This allows for a well-rounded and all-inclusive education.
Hands-on learning is the process of relating a lesson to something physical the child can see, feel, or experience. This can include inserting shapes in their respective slots, sorting colored beads, or making objects out of Play-Doh.
The benefits of hands-on learning are numerous, including:
Helping to Build Meaning and Form a Connection with Lessons
Children learn best when connections are made with their brain through their senses, a fact that has heavily influenced Montessori classrooms’ approach to education. This means listening to a lesson only uses hearing, limiting the possible connections with the content. A lack of a real-world connection can make information harder to understand, memorize, and use. However, if they are encouraged to make pig noises or create a Play-Doh pig instead of just repeating the name, they are forming more connections and assigning further meaning to the lesson.
Contributing to Development of Fine Motor Skills
When children use their hands and fingers, they are developing fine motor skills and the ability to perform everyday tasks. This is important because children learn by trying and doing. As they refine these skills, they become more confident in their abilities, leading to them sharing what they know with parents and classmates alike. This reinforces the concepts and leads to well-rounded development for the students, and is one of the primary benefits of hands-on learning.
Encouraging Unconventional Learners
Nothing is more frustrating to children and students alike than feeling left behind in class. This often is due to a lack of variety in the way information is presented, and can likely be explained by a difference in students’ learning styles in a classroom. The 4 primary learning styles are:
Visual – Learn through images and seeing physical representations or relationships.
Auditory – Learn through sound and hearing as well as repeating words or sounds.
Reading & Writing – Learn by reading or writing information down.
Kinesthetic – Learn by being hands-on and by “doing”.
Unfortunately, many classrooms do not address all the learning styles in their classroom, which can make some students feel behind. Montessori classrooms are different though. Their hands-on and collaborative approach helps include all learners so nobody is left behind.
If students are using letter blocks to spell the names of animals, they are relating the names they are hearing (auditory) with the picture of the cow (visual). They are also reading the name (reading & writing) and then spelling it out themselves with blocks (kinesthetic). This is great because children don’t know how they learn best, but they understand the information because all styles are included. This does wonders for confidence, which then inspires them to keep learning.
Hands-on learning is a great way to ensure a child gets the best and most complete education possible. Through stimulating all their senses, children connect with the lessons more easily and understand information better. They also gain confidence and independence as they learn, explore, and do more, traits that are very important to their future both in school and out.
Admn October 23rd, 2017
One of the things that parents find the most surprising about Montessori teachers is the fact that they do not give “grades.” The idea behind the grade-less approach is not about creating a careless environment but one where self-motivation and mastery are the center.
Montessori teachers try to avoid creating a learning environment centered on test taking. When a child is worried about grades and test scores, they tend to memorize what they need to pass a test and nothing more. Once the test is done, much of the information “learned” is lost in their memory. This approach to learning allows children to squeeze by without actually learning much and causes an unnecessary amount of stress in their lives. Focusing on test taking essentially deprives a child of the fun of learning.
One thing teachers don’t want to see in a Montessori classroom is a child saying, “well, at least I passed.” A grade centered learning environment can inhibit a student’s learning ability and expectation of themselves. It is far better to focus on the mastery of a subject than worrying about getting a passing grade. This way, a child has no reason or temptation to just squeeze by. Instead, they are encouraged to truly learn and master a subject.
In a Montessori learning environment, the sky is the limit. When a child is focused on gaining a satisfactory grade, he or she is a slave to the limitations of that grade level. Montessorian approach to learning allows children access to knowledge without limit and is based on their individual abilities and interests. Students are not fed information to pass a class but taught how to learn and how to gather information. There are no textbooks or standardized tests in the real world; therefore, there are none in a Montessori classroom. Students are taught to gather information from various sources as well a draw on their own past experiences.
It all boils down to creating a child-centered learning environment. The learning pace of a child is not dictated by a textbook or test, but by their own innate ability and talent. Montessorian educators give students the tools to work towards a real future, not just the next grade level.
Admn October 5th, 2017
Posted In: About Montessori Education