Have you ever wondered if Montessori is right for you and your family? Our family of schools offer a variety of early childhood programming philosophies and approaches, and we believe in the importance of supporting each family in choosing the best type of early childhood programming for them.
To help in this process, we have some statements for you to consider – if you agree with most of these statements, Montessori may be the right fit for you!
- I believe every child’s development is unique.
In a Montessori school, children have the freedom to explore different materials based on their interest. The teacher introduces them to one-on-one or small group lessons based on signs of readiness, and closely observes each child day-to-day to ensure that they are provided with the right learning opportunities at the right time.
In a traditional school, children are led through group lessons based on the curriculum plan.
- I believe the education model should fit the child, not that the child should fit the education model.
In a Montessori school, the child’s learning is based on their own interests and observation of the child by the teacher. If something is not working for a child, the teacher tries a new approach, or introduces new materials with the purpose to help that child master a skill or to nurture that child’s interests.
In a traditional school, there is little space and time for teachers to develop individual learning plans, and it is expected that most children follow along with the traditional education model.
- I believe that competition, grading, testing and rewards hinder a child’s education rather than help it.
In Montessori, the emphasis is on individual learning in the early years, moving towards cooperative learning in the upper elementary and high school years. Competition and testing are not encouraged, as each child’s development is unique and worthy of respect. Instead, Montessori schools use meticulous record-keeping to assess and plan for each student’s individual learning. The emphasis is that children have intrinsic motivation to learn – they learn because they enjoy learning, or because their curiosity drives them to discover.
In traditional schools, competition, grading, testing, rewards are considered evaluation tools as well as tools to motivate students. The emphasis is on extrinsic motivation – they learn because there is an external pressure to perform, gain recognition, awards, praise, good grades, etc.
I believe children learn best through hands on exploration rather than worksheets and fact memorization.
Montessori schools believe that the abstract is best understood through the concrete, and the materials in our classrooms are orderly, attractive and spark the imagination as children interact with them. In the early years, parents will wonder if their child is learning anything, simply because they don’t worksheets coming home with their child. But all day long, their child interacts with the materials on the shelves, absorbing information as they explore with their senses! Our materials are used to explore numerals and quantities, for example, but also go as far as introducing multiplication and division with four digit numbers and skip counting with numbers 1-10! These things cannot be taken home with the child in a tangible form, but are stored away in their minds for when the child will be ready to use it! The child moves freely between works, as their attention span permits, while the teacher observes, works quietly with different children, and gives presentations (individually or in a small group).
Traditional schools have children sit at desks and learn “busy” work of holding a pencil, completing worksheets, and memorizing information as the teacher stands at the front of the classroom.
- I believe that early childhood education should prepare a child for life, not just the elementary years.
Montessori education is holistic, aiming to develop the whole child. It is focused on a child’s emotional, physical, social, and cognitive development. It fosters the building of peace-making skills, conflict resolution skills, grace & courtesy (manners) skills, and critical thinking skills.
Montessori calls this “cosmic education” – education that encompasses the development of the whole person within the whole of the universe, and the idea that all things and people are interconnected.
Even in the early childhood classrooms, children are busy exploring other cultures and learning to respect and understand the beautiful tapestry that we call humanity. They are also exploring the incredible world we call home: through astronomy, zoology, botany, gardening, and more. They are learning that each person is responsible for how they interact with other people, the environment and the earth, with the goal of developing conscientiousness, empathy and responsibility.
Traditional curriculum is typically centered around cognitive (academic) development.