Does Montessori education hinders creativity?
Parents who are new to Montessori have often voiced concerns about the “lack of” creativity in a Montessori classroom. Compared to a daycare centre that promotes a “free-play” or “play-based” approach, the Montessori classroom may seem to be too rigid and too structured with too little “play” time. So does the Montessori education approach really hinders children’s creativity?
Montessori promotes true creativity
At first glance, a Montessori classroom doesn’t scream “this is a creative space.” The classroom atmosphere is calm and orderly with not a lot of unstructured toys or pretend play materials out and about all over the room.
Instead, Montessori preschool supports the development of creativity at much more than just a superficial, finger-painting level. (There’s absolutely nothing wrong with finger painting—our point is just that it’s not the primary way to nurture a creative capacity.). With beautiful and inspiring Montessori tools and furniture, the Montessori classroom allows each child to slowly develop oneself, to become an individual capable of meaningful, motivated thought and action as he/she grows.
Here’s how Montessori fosters creativity:
Artistic expressions everywhere
When you visit a Montessori preschool classroom, you’ll find artistic expression everywhere, not just during arts time. Fine paintings may be displayed along the walls, at the children’s eye level; books illustrated with high-quality images are always available for reading. In a Montessori classroom, a 3-year-old student may be cutting coloured pieces of paper, and assembling them into a mosaic in the practical life area. A 4-year-old may be carefully painting a map of the world with water colours as part of her exploration of geography. And a 5-year-old may be making a book about a recent trip to the waterpark, illustrating the wave pool and slides and writing about them, combining art with language skills. When the whole environment is constantly filled with artistic expressions in various forms, creativity would naturally follows.
Follow the child – Child-led creativity
In a traditional preschool or daycare, children typically work on and complete projects assigned by the teacher. Every child draw a Christmas tree for Christmas, or make a tie for Father’s Day. The teacher provides the same materials to all children, and directs them on how to complete the project.
Nothing hinders creativity more than being told what to do and what to work on every single day! In order to be creative, we must first be unique, be individuals with our own take on the world, be curious about how things work, and be confident in our own abilities to succeed.
That’s why in a Montessori classroom, we adhere to the “follow the child” principle. Children are free to create their own art and do their own “work” following their own interests. They paint what they want on their easels. They draw pictures that interest them and write about them. They make collages from cut papers that express their view of what looks pretty together.
More importantly, children have the freedom to be artistic when they feel drawn to art: all art materials are available all day long, and are always ready when the inspiration strikes! Others may be drawn to music, or math, and pursue those interests. In Montessori, it’s all about the self-generated process of exploration and expression; it’s about allowing the individual child’s creativity energy to develop, not about producing a standardized art project to take home for parents to admire.
Develop the necessary skills and knowledge to be creative
To be truly creative, children need to master essential skills, and build a solid foundation of knowledge. For example, to become a compelling writer, children need to acquire a breadth of vocabulary, a firm command of grammar, and the skills to put words together on paper in a compelling structure. In Montessori, we help children learn these skills and to apply them in practice, from a young age using our very carefully designed tools. We also strive for cross-area integration, and an application of knowledge learned to practical life. This type of approach fosters the divergent, integrative thinking needed for truly creative work!
Inspire Montessori School Classrooms – Cultivate true creativity
In summary, although not very apparent at the first glance, the Montessori environment is designed to allow for creativity to bloom. And at Inspire Montessori school, we aim to provide the perfect Montessori environment to spark true creativity in all our children.