Have you considered that the traditional schooling method may not be what is best for your child? The type of schooling I mean is where your child is in a class with up to twenty kids or more who are all expected to do the same thing, at the same time, and learn at the same pace.
Home-schooled children whose parents want them to mingle more independently with other children in a school environment, but not the environment described above, should consider a Montessori school.
The reason for this strong recommendation is that the Montessori method provides a child with a more independent learning curve. Instead of meeting learning goals alongside others at the same pace, children can learn the skills they are expected to at their own pace, within a suitable timeframe.
Get the Montessori Colored Pencil Holder Set / pic: Pinterest
This type of environment fosters a child’s confidence, in themselves, and the world around them. Not only is it good for a child’s self-esteem, but their social skills get a work out in that classes are not strictly segregated according to age.
How is the Montessori way different from traditional public and private schooling? Here are 5 things your child will learn in a Montessori school.
1) How to intellectually engage with the world around them
Montessori materials are probably more recognisable than its core principles are known. These materials support and develop a child’s sensorial perception. Sensory materials include tactile, visual, olfactory, auditory, and taste.
By playing with simple, but complex, toys that aid their development, a child is not just receiving input, they are producing creative output, and from this output, their confidence and practical abilities layer in their intellectual growth.
What does this mean? When your child is comparing and contrasting materials designed to test their perception and understanding of the world, they are repeating activities until they feel they’ve perfected them. Your child will not be hurried, nor will they be pushed to compete with others in a Montessori environment. The key elements are collaborative play, and hands-on learning.
This can be done in a Montessori environment because it is a prepared one. All the tools needed for your child to develop well surround them in a neat, ordered, yet colourful way.
What will your child learn? That there is a place for everything, and every person in the world. By enrolling your child in a Montessori school, they will learn self-discipline, which every parent should encourage. By having kept records of your child’s interests and growth, they’ll know which sensorial materials to have ready in class when the time comes. Only what they need and to the complexity they should grapple with will be made available to your child.
2) How to sustain concentration
A common complaint among parents and teachers throughout the world today is a lack of concentration in the classroom and at home. Being digital natives, children today have easy and quick access to information, and have the ability to skip through boring parts, or replay with ease.
If their schooling encourages long periods of self-study, the chances are that they will learn all that they can from a particular task when ready for it, because what they choose interests them. In so doing, they form the habit of concentration. Each year that your child grows, he or she should be able to concentrate for longer and longer. With the right support, they will have strong concentration skills by adulthood.
When the term starts, the Montessori materials, diversified, specific, as well as expensive, are presented to the children so they can get an idea as to how they work. From then on, it is up to the child to figure it out with teachers and teaching assistants keeping a keen eye on your little one’s development.
The Lacing Shoes Learning Board for concentration while refining motor skills
Your child will not be left to fend for themselves, they will be developing a sense of accomplishment as they master each task, game, or complex toy. While they do so, their teacher is taking notes, and keeping track of when and how they do something.
Record-keeping is strict in Montessori schools as observations are logged with meticulous care. It’s vital for Montessori teachers to keep track of each child’s development as children stay in their class for up to three years if they join the class when they are three, and stay until six.
The benefits of being long-term with one teacher are innumerable. Not only are stronger bonds developed, amongst the children, but also between the children and their teacher. Knowing them better month after month means the teacher is better able to assess their progress, and guide their development.
3) How to be part of a team
Though lunch time and snack times are the same every day, and outdoor free time scheduled in, the Montessori way differs from traditional methods in that children can choose what they want to work on and for how long. As our John, Jill, and Jane example goes to show, Montessori children have the option to choose to play with, thus learn from, what interests them, and the best thing about it is that they can join each other, building team-working skills naturally.
Being told to work with student A and student B by the teacher can get two children to work together, but will they be comfortable, at ease, and learning from the task to the best of their ability in that way? Not always.
If, however, Jane feels confident to walk over to Jill’s table to see what she is doing, she can get involved, if Jill doesn’t mind, of course. Often, the company is welcome.
The FREE Educational Balancing Elephant - Nice material for team work
One of the principles of the Montessori method is that classes are non-graded and of mixed age groups. What this means is that, depending on the size of the school, children from the ages of 3 to 6 will be able to mix together during their class time.
How does this encourage your child’s development? If John is stronger in one area that say a child a year older than him would be doing, letter-writing in sand boxes for instance, he would be able to watch and learn from others older than himself. The more your child can interact with other children within their developmental plane, from three to six, for instance, the better it is for their social development.
In the Montessori way, age groups are considered planes of development, and rather than segregating age groups, they are mixed in three-year groupings, from 3-6, and 6-9, and so on. Teams have stronger and weaker components, just as every person does. In a Montessori school, your child will learn how to manage his/her own strengths and weaknesses because they are given the opportunities to have periods of activity that are uninterrupted, but crucially, chosen by them.
All this talk on individual preferences a child has in this method of schooling should not lead you to think that all children in Montessori schools are encouraged to do their own thing all of the time. Group work and individual time are balanced, especially from the ages of 6 to 9, when children seem to be drawn to more group activities, than say a three-year-old would be.
What is key is that what your child needs is there when he/she needs it. What your child learns is driven his/her child’s inner guidance. What is this inner guidance? What he or she finds interesting. When a good Montessori school has been set up with all its necessary equipment, learning through play and exploration happens naturally, as Maria Montessori saw it unfold.
4) How to pack away
Though this might seem a little strange to some, cleaning up after oneself is a skill best learnt young. Every Montessori classroom is a calm, ordered oasis. Wood features as the most common material for educational toys in the classroom setting, with colours arranged in a way that appeals to the eye.
In an ordered environment, there is structure and stability. What is available to play with is neatly on display. Children may choose whatever they want to work on, take it to their table space, or floor area of their choosing and get to work on what interests them most. What is crucial is that when they are done playing with their toy of choice, they must pack it away. Not in a random toy bin nearby, not in a communal wagon, nor in the first available spot. It must be put back where it belongs, in the exact place they found it.
What does this teach the child? That he/she is responsible for his or her own actions. They learn that if they want to find what they want easily, it’s best to keep things in order. Not only that, but they learn the security of orderliness, while watching and learning from each other. There is no reward/punishment cycle, just the reinforcement of desired behaviour through repetition, and seeing others do the same.
In practice, it could look like this: though John may want to do letter drawing today, Jill might prefer to work on a puzzle, but what they both do is return the material or toy to its place when they’ve had they’ve had their fill for the day. If Jane wanders over to join Jill, and spends her time at the same table, together they can pack it away.
5) How to be independent
What is rare in a Montessori school is a teacher that presents a long lesson to a large group. Presentations are kept shorter, and a child’s inner curiosities are allowed to come to the forefront. When they can engage with what they are interested in, their confidence builds, and their abilities grow. In so doing, they also learn to become independent. Activities that are guided towards sensorial development, or practical life, teach the students how to figure things out for themselves, and not overly-rely on the help of others.
Self-reliance, self-discipline, and self-confidence develop when children are not always given something to do, but can find interesting things to learn how to use in the environment around them. The Children’s House, a common term in Montessori methodology for ages 3 to 6, is designed to foster independence, where a child can feel welcome to engage with whatever catches his or her interest. What this does not mean is that a child will be left to his or her own devices. What is available for your child to play with and learn is on hand in their classroom and appropriate for their age-group.
Montessori school material to be independent - The Montessori Dressing Frame (Buttons)
If your child is home-schooled, but you are considering a less normative system than traditional schools, looking into the Montessori schools in your area is a good idea. There is a lot of variation in the schools that can call themselves Montessori. Some use its methods, but not its materials due to the cost of them, while others are truer to Dr. Montessori’s methods than others.
Going to all the schools for tours would be wise, and speaking to parents of children in those schools will give you a better idea of what the school is like than its brochures.
Dr. Montessori stated: “the greatest sign of success for a teacher is to be able to say ‘the children are now working as if I did not exist”. What this says of the method is that your child will be attending a school with a child-centred approach, not a curriculum-based method. Remember, collaboration is as encouraged as your child’s individuality.
Not only will your little ones have the chance at individual growth, they will also learn to respect others and have self-respect. They will be able to work on their own, as well as collaborate, but above all, their personal needs will be met by kind teachers in a safe environment, both in and outdoors.If your child is not that geared towards traditional ‘one-size-fits-all’ teaching methods, looking into a Montessori school might be the next step for you. You will be rewarded with a child that will be learning to be a team-player while also encouraged to be independent, and one that will pack away their toys by habit. By engaging in the world around them, children’s natural curiosity is sustained by the Montessori method. They should be able to engage and concentrate to the best of their abilities because they practise that every day.