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What is unique in our pedagogy
The importance of inner motivation:
Maria Montessori perceived inner motivation as the most important force for learning and growth. The child herself best knows what is interesting for her. The activity she chooses will in turn give her joy by learning how to do it and succeeding. This increases the child’s desire to continue the activity on her own.

Parents and teachers, when deciding chores and goals for children, often find it necessary to prepare some kind of reward in order to capture the childs interest. The reward may be stars, smiley-faces, grades or things like money or candy. In these circumstances the child does not do the activity out of her own inner motivation, but rather for the adults and the reward provided.

How do you find an activity that captures a child’s interest, increases the child’s concentration, curiosity, and learning, and which in itself is rewarding? We know that children go through different stages where they are especially susceptible to learning new skills. In Montessori pedagogy these periods are called sensitive periods. Most parents have experienced their child’s’eagerness to learn skills like walking or talking. Throughout the preschool age the child will be interested in different subjects or fields. In a Montessori preschool, activities are provided for all these periods. The activities are not age related; they are presented when a child is ready, and everything is thoughtfully considered. Tasks move from easy to difficult, concrete to abstract, and from known to unknown. This principle challenges every child at their level. Knowledge about sensitive periods and presentation of the materials is the teachers’ base for awakening the children’s interest and desire to continue on their own. The children are allowed to continue the activity as long as they desire and are free to explore on their own without interference. Their joy when discovering something new and their pride when they succeed is clearly visible during this process. It is their inner motivation that drives them forward creating enthusiasm and joy while learning.

Different learning processes in children and adults:
Children and adults have very different ways of learning. While adults are motivated by the final goal and results, small children are motivated by the process alone. If children can chose, they often chose to keep the process going for a long period of time. We observe this when a child discovers the joy of walking up and down the stairs; he will continue walking up and down the staircase without any thought of reaching the top of the stairs. This pattern is a typical learning process for children of preschool age. Children learn without knowing or evaluating that they are learning. Learning skill moves from the unconscious to the conscious.

Adults must be aware of this difference in order to avoid forcing their own goals on children. In Montessori preschools, children may for instance enjoy cleaning windows. The child might clean for a long time just enjoying the process of cleaning rather than to achieve a shiny result. Children might also enjoy cleaning a table, but the result is not the same as when an adult does the job. If we transfer our adult goals to the child, we often observe that the child loses interest in the activity. In a Montessori preschool a child decides when he is done and satisfied with the job. The child is also free to continue the activity later on if he wants to.

Independence:
Children enjoy managing themselves, and it is therefore crucial not to interfere and help children unnecessarily. If we interfere and do things for children, they tend to become more passive.

However, it is important that there are enough adults present to see and follow up a child in a proper way. In our culture adults often have a tendency to interfere and generally do too much for the child. By doing this we remove the important pride the child feels when succeeding with a task. The result might not be perfect for an adult, but the child should be left undisturbed if she is happy with her own results. If the child is enjoying the activity without interference, she will observe her environment and continue to practice the activity with gradually improving results.

Development must be seen as a whole:
Not a set of skills to be taught.

The Montessori pedagogy addresses the whole human being and believes that mental and physical developments are linked. Preschool age children often have a need for movement during the day, which affects the classroom activities. If a child has been focused and concentrated for a period of time, he often needs activities that provide a more physical challenge.

If a child is physically, intellectually and emotionally content, then he has a good foundation to develop empathy and social skills.