Montessori Vs Forest School
Today I’m going to be comparing the popular Montessori approach and Forest School.
Now you may or may not have heard of the Montesorri approach, but never fear as I shall give you a brief overview.
The GodMother -Maria Montessori
The Montessori approach was founded by Maria Montessori in 1907 in Italy. Montessori was an Italian scientist who used methods of scientific observation to develop her approach to education.
To this day, her approach emphasises observation of children learning and tweaking of learning environments based on teachers’ observations. Children are encouraged to use experimentation and trial-and-error to learn.
The Unobtrusive Montessori Teacher
The teacher is ideally an unobtrusive director, basically they don’t get in the way, aiming to eventually not interfere with learning at all as children develop self-competencies.
The teacher should observe and record children’s learning, but it is recognised that interrupting children during learning could disturb their momentum, motivation, interest and thought processes.
Therefore, the goal should be to support self-directed learning and self-discipline.
Here’s a quote I love about Montessori’s idea of the teacher:
“The greatest sign of success for a teacher… is to be able to say, ‘The children are now working as if I did not exist.’” — Maria Montessori
The Structured and Sensory Montessori Classroom
Children can use resources around the classroom to help them problem solve and discover new things. Educators use their observations of children to provide the children with resources that help them meet their current developmental needs.
The Montessori classroom is also an orderly and structured environment, where objects have their own place.
The Montessori classroom emphasises sensory and practical experiences. Lessons are task-oriented, where the teacher sets out a task and encourages students to complete the task without interference from an adult.
Montessori approach sees children as ‘agentic’. This means children are seen as competent and capable of self-development. Children are very much seen as being able to learn and discover on their own when provided with a resource-rich environment.
Two Peas In A Pod!
Its very interesting how similar the Montesorri approach and Forest School are.
Each approach sees children holistically, or as a whole learner and not individual areas of knowledge. This type of approach puts emphasis on children’s development of mind, body, spirit and friendship.
Both can be considered constructivist, or ‘to make meaning through doing’ as they have strong emphasis on ‘learning by doing’.
Children spend varying time outdoors, in both, experiencing and engaging with nature to develop knowledge.
It is also similar with its focus on the children leading the learning. The teacher and the leader are seen as guides to greater learning destinations, focusing on observing children and how the are learning from and in the world around them.
It is recognized by both that interrupting children during learning could disturb their momentum, motivation, interest and thought processes.
The Dividing Woodland Line
Now considering how they are different include Forest School taking place completely in a natural wooded environment without anything to rigidly prepare for learners, unlike the Montesorri approach that takes place in a pre-prepared classroom and outdoor setting.
The learning environment at Forest School is also open-ended. Open-ended learning means that children create their own adventures: they choose how to use the resources in their environment.
The positive promotion of risk taking at Forest School is also another key difference. Trust between children and adults is emphasized, where it is a give-take relationship rather than having the teacher as the ultimate authority figure.
There’is also the difference in the Montesorri approach to use self-correcting materials as apposed to in the forest school approach where mistakes are seen as way markers and highly valued for development and the building of resiience.
Which Should You Choose?
There are certainly many similarities between the two and in some cases you as a parent can choose a Montessori Forest School. To conjoin these hugely beneficial approaches. Which one should you pick? Forest School for sure…but then I would say that.
It comes down to what you wish your child to get out of their learning journey. The fact that these two alternative methods have become so popular to parents like you is because you feel something is missing from your child’s education. Through choosing one of these, at least, that hole will become plugged.
By choosing both….who knows what could happen.
You’re just one session away!