In Montessori, you often hear the phrase, “follow the child”. What exactly does that mean?
As Montessori educators, we understand that children are not all the same. Each child has strengths in different areas, and learns at their own unique pace. In the classroom, not all 3 year olds are working on the same lesson. This is different from traditional schools that assume children of the same age are at the same learning level.
In Montessori, each lesson builds on the previous lesson. For instance, a child cannot start to read until he/she has mastered the sounds each letter makes. This may take one child two months and another child three months, which is perfectly ok.
Allowing children to learn at their own pace, and grow at their developmental timetable means acknowledging their natural interests, and not imposing the adult’s idea of what the child “should” be learning. Children are natural learners. When given the freedom to follow their instinct, children will happily explore their world.