What is Montessori?!

by Kathy Sykes on September 15, 2009 · 0 comments

Today my husband and I took a tour of our local Montessori school.  Since our son is a little over two years old, we thought it would be a good idea to start researching different educational options EARLY because the waiting lists here are very long.

First, the process was for us to come in, without Thomas, and get information about the Montessori teaching style and to observe a classroom while it is in session.

What is Montessori?

Montessori

Philosophy

The Montessori course of study is an integrated thematic approach that ties the separate disciplines of the curriculum together. Everything is interrelated. One lesson leads to another. The child moves from the concrete toward abstract understanding.

Children, especially when they are very young, are quite capable of absorbing information, concepts, and skills from their surroundings and peers almost as though through osmosis. Montessori observed that in an environment that is intellectually and artistically alive, warm and encouraging, children will spontaneously ask questions, investigate, create and explore new ideas. Montessori classrooms are thoughtfully arranged with compelling lessons that children choose themselves. These materials take the child on a personal journey of discovery and mastery. The Montessori teacher acts as a guide. At every age students learn in different ways at different rates. Many learn much more effectively from direct hands-on experience rather than from studying a textbook or listening to a lecture. The teacher is especially sensitive to the learning style of each child. Each child works at his or her own pace. Based on the interpretation of the Montessori educational philosophy, we feel our school and its programs have faithfully embraced Maria Montessori’s philosophies regarding the education of children while adapting those original philosophies to the cultures and times in which we live.

Montessori education takes a different approach to learning, which can best be appreciated through first-hand experience. Many people, including professional educators, misunderstand the concepts. Observation of a class in action explains more than any amount of reading. 

The Montessori School has an open admission policy, serving the needs of all ethnic and religious groups, and most academic student capabilities from mildly disabled to gifted.

We spent an hour and a half getting a complete overview of what the children do in a day. Each child is created an individual lesson plan that is specific to him/her. Then they are allowed to chose whatever lesson they would like to focus on that day. The teacher encourages then to move on to new lessons as the weeks progress.  The lessons include geology, math, reading, cooking, art, music, and spanish. Now this is for ages toddlers through pre-K.  The admissions coordinator says that most children can read and know most of the countries in North America and South America (including the lakes/oceans) by kindergarten. Wha??

We actually got to see how the children learn their lessons following the Montessori teaching methods. Yes, it is different from the traditional sytle of teaching, but I can see how it can be much easier to learn certain subject by using these methods. It was very interesting.

Our next step is to come in an observe children during their regular learning times. We will meet with the director of the school and also sit down for an interview. It is at this time we will decide to turn in an application or not.

There are Montessori schools in many states that are public education or there are montessori programs within the public school system. The school here is not part of the public school system and requires a pretty high price tag.  So, that is why our school visit, questions, and observations are so important to assess if it is worth the money.

My main objective is for Thomas to obtain an education and be in an educational environment that stimulates his mind on a consistent basis, that challenges him to “think” strategically, and be surrounded by diversity and different cultures.

As it stands right now, I am impressed with the Montessori teaching method and am excited to see what else it has in store for us.

If you have a child in Montessori or are familiar with it, please leave me a comment.

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