Five Reasons Montessori School is a Smart Choice (Academically Speaking)
1. "FOLLOW THE CHILD"
This most basic of Montessori principles is also the most important - and what leads to the ultimate academic success of virtually every child given the opportunity to enroll in a Montessori School.
Montessori follows the child – not an arbitrary curriculum. If your child is interested in language, that is what your child will do. If your child is fascinated by math, no problem. By following your child Montessori naturally teaches what your child is ready to learn. Success follows.
For those of us educated in a traditional setting it sounds blasphemous. When I tried to explain it to my brother, he immediately turned around with “What if they never want to learn math? You have a five year old who can’t count?” Maybe. But the beauty of Montessori is that it makes learning exciting. The materials are beautiful, the other children are working around them, the environment is prepared and ready for them to explore. Trust the child – their natural curiosity will lead them to learning.
2. NO TESTING
If you knew you could not fail, what would you do?
Montessori children get to explore the answer this question every day.
There are no tests in Montessori. Children are never asked to regurgitate information, or to work in an inorganic environment. Children are never compared, either to a standard or to each other. And no child ever fails.
Instead, student evaluations are discussions between the teacher and parents about what growth students have made and what skills they have mastered. Never will your child be compared to another child or an arbitrary standard - your child will be celebrated for who they are and what they have achieved. Period.
In Montessori Preschools, everything is taught with manipulatives. Your children touch it, handle it, pick it up, turn it upside down and inside out, stack it, spread it out, cut it, trace it... you name it, they do it.
To learn the alphabet children trace letters made out of sandpaper with their fingers. To learn to count children take items out of a box, and line up the appropriate amount under a numeral. To begin learning to add, they use chains made up of beads. To learn to write, they use chalkboards where mistakes are easily erased.
In short, children learn exactly the way they were meant to learn: by touching, by feeling, by doing. More and more studies prove that this tactile approach to learning is the most successful way to teach young children. If you are a parent, you've probably already observed this at home. Montessori has been doing this for over 100 years, and it works.
4. A PREPARED, COLLABORATIVE ENVIRONMENT
Montessori begins with the prepared environment. Materials are ready to use and are stored where students can access them independently. Snacks are available at the snack table, whenever children feel they are hungry. The bathroom facilities are conveniently located (often right within the classroom), and children go whenever they need to go.
The preparation that the teacher does to ensure the classroom is ready and available to students means that students are allowed (independently) to take responsibility, for themselves and their education. Think your child can't do that? You're wrong. Children as younger than three enter and use this "prepared environment" with astounding success every day, around the world. And when a child is trusted in that profound way, they amazingly rise to the occasion. Their achievements mount side by side with their confidence!
Additionally, Montessori is a completely collaborative environment. Children learn and teach each other, and are never prohibited from sharing their work and what they know. Allowing children to share their frustrations and successes with each other creates a joyful community of learners, and adds to each child's rich learning experience.
When children are confident and joyful, they learn!
5. SOUND EDUCATIONAL PRACTICES
If all this sounds too warm and fuzzy, be assured that Montessori principles are grounded in sound educational practices.
The language curriculum, while employing manipulatives and tactile experiences, is phonics. It is repackaged to make it accessible and digestable for children ages 3 to 6, but it remains the same - letter sounds, blends, sounding words out. It is the curriculum you know and trust, on steroids.
The math curriculum is traditionally based as well, but uses objects that you can touch instead of pictures on a page. Math is taught multi-sensorially, meaning your child can see it, touch it, hear it (bells, chimes, etc), even taste and smell through some of the works available to them! It still teaches the same things we learned as children, but in a way that allows children to fully digest the information.
Magnet schools, charter schools, private schools... all of the "new" ideas in traditional education are incorporating the ideas of manipulatives, multi-sensorial learning, collaborative environments, alternative assessments, etc. Montessori has been perfecting them for over 100 years.
And Montessori kids are proving that these "new" ways to look at education work. Check out the amazing results cited in this study.
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