The Difference Between Traditional and Montessori Geography Education

girl in pink shirt sits on floor with map of world in front of her

Presenting geography to children at an early age is imperative in the Montessori method of education, which places an emphasis on independence, hands-on learning, and developing real-world skills. It is essential that children understand the planet’s geographical makeup because the interconnectedness of humankind is woven throughout Montessori lessons. Topics like politics, history, weather and climate, and social studies cannot be fully comprehended without a solid base understanding of geography.

Montessori geography is taught from whole to parts, meaning that children first learn about the earth’s compositional makeup as far as land and water, then about the continents, then countries, and so on.

In a traditional geography curriculum, specifically in Pennsylvania, concepts that children should know and be able to perform are dictated by the Academic Standards for Geography from the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Classrooms are led by a teacher, with children passively listening. Textbooks are heavily relied on, and students are asked to memorize things and then take standardized tests on what they’ve memorized.

The Montessori approach believes teachers are collaborative members of the learning process who act as guides in a child’s educational development journey.

Montessori teaches geography differently from any other method. A specially curated Montessori classroom provides materials that allow children to learn geography concepts in a tactical, age-appropriate way, using tools like the sandpaper globe to give children a sensorial impression of the earth’s geographic makeup.

Montessori’s geography curriculum creates a foundation for children to understand how world cultures connect, recognizing the basic needs that all people share while appreciating the diversity of how different communities satisfy those needs. 

Click to learn more about Grace Montessori School’s toddler, primary and elementary curriculums.

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