People I meet are often curious and also misinformed about what Montessori education means. They ask me, “Why Montessori?” For a long time, I really couldn’t answer them eloquently. The truth is, at first I enrolled my oldest son because my mom begged me to. In order to understand her pleading for myself, I had to attend all of the parent education meetings offered and observe the classrooms. I have continued to send both of my sons to a Montessori school because I love it.
The misconception I hear most often from other parents and teachers who are not familiar with or do not have experience with Montessori is “Isn’t that where the kids just get to choose what they do all day?” Thus implying kids are running amok and not getting any “real” work done. The short answer is “ yes and no.”
Montessori students have the freedom to create their own work plans. Then, after finishing all their required works, they are able to have silent reading or work with materials of their choosing. Students also have a lot more freedom to advance in areas they are interested in. All this choice, however, falls within the constraints of community consideration and manners. The children are not permitted to be overly chatty or rambunctious because that would disturb other students.
Montessori classrooms are “student-centered,” meaning the teacher does not stand up in front of the class and lecture. Children receive individual lessons when they are ready to move onto new material. Once they have received a lesson in an area they are required to master that particular aspect of that subject and teach it to others. Thus, establishing a deep understanding and internalizing the information.
Additionally, students are held accountable for how much work they accomplish without being told to do it by an adult. This develops time management skills at a young age. The time management part is one of my favorite parts of the Montessori school. I personally struggled with time management in college and sometimes still do. Time management skills will serve them very well in life and career.
Love of Learning
Another principle I love about Montessori is the desire to instill in children a love of learning just for the sake of learning. I am a learner and a reader. The saying goes “readers are leaders” and I want that for my kids. I never want them to lose their curiosity about how the world works and what they can create.
Last, but definitely not least, is the strong focus on contentiousness and consideration of others. Students are taught to be kind, use manners, respect each other and the environment around them. Montessori schools are filled with beautiful material and never plastic junk. The classrooms stay free of clutter and have a very zen feel to them.
When I observed my son’s classroom recently, a sixth-grade girl came over and quietly served me tea! Wow! I was impressed. That kind of consideration of others and hospitality is, lacking in our society today. That one kind act, or rather what it represents, is what sealed the deal on Montessori for my children and me.
I feel very blessed that here in Saint Augustine Florida we have a public Montessori charter school. Montessori education can be costly because they are usually private. So, having a public option is an absolute treasure.
I do, however, pay for my two toddlers to attend Moultrie Montessori. Jeannie, the founder and one of the most amazing teachers I have ever met says “pay me now or pay for college later.”
I believe her!
I can already see a change for the better in my toddlers. They love to go to school and I never have to worry that they will be neglected or bullied. That sort of thing just doesn’t happen there. The quiet, clean, and organized spaces make for the ideal learning environment. If only I could make my house a Montessori house!