Montessori Education 101
Common Montessori Values
- Enjoyment of learning
- Love of order
- Enjoyment of quiet
- Learning through discovery
- Ability to choose
When it comes to education, we parents want the best for our kids, but sometimes it's difficult to know what that is. I had the chance to get some answers from author and Montessori expert Maren Schmidt.
LD: What is Montessori?
MS: Lela, there are a lot of conceptions and misconceptions out there about Montessori schools.
This year is the 100th anniversary of the first Montessori designed classroom. Over the past hundred years Montessori classrooms all over the world have proven that, when correctly implemented, Dr. Montessori's philosophy works for children of all socio-economic circumstances and all levels of ability.
LD: A lot of schools claim to be Montessori. Is all Montessori education the same?
MS: With about 5,000 schools in North America today, there is going to be a lot of variety in how philosophy is implemented. From how teachers are trained, how environments are prepared, to how many and what age children in a classroom-are some of the ways that schools differ.
Also, every school or organization has its own culture. I have friends that run schools that are so different in culture as to be humorous, though both schools are serious about maintaining high standards. One friend runs a school in California where Buddhist values are upheld and the first hour of the day is for meditation. Another friend heads up a high powered New York school where parents' expectations are that their children will be going to the Ivy Leagues...or else. These are both authentic Montessori schools, but very different in their school culture.
LD: Are some children more suited than others for a Montessori education?
MS: The children that benefit most from a Montessori environment are those whose parents understand the developmental needs of their children and how a Montessori environment can aid in the process of healthy human growth. The difference between a child whose parents, mom and dad, are aware of these issues and the child whose parents are not knowledgeable, well, the difference becomes quite evident.
LD: How can parents learn more about Montessori education?
MS: There are numerous resources available to learn more about Montessori education. For parents who like to read I suggest Dr. Montessori's The Secret of Childhood as a first venture into the philosophy. Some web sites to look at are http://www.montessori.org/, http://www.amshq.org/, http://www.montessori-ami.org/, http://www.montessori-namta.org/.
These web sites have special sections for parents and online libraries with articles on a variety of child development topics.
Of course, parents can learn more by contacting their local Montessori schools.
Also, most Montessori schools offer parent education classes. These are wonderful opportunities to learn about your child's developmental needs, and are usually open to people interested in learning more about Montessori education. Contact a school for more information.
LD: Is there anything else you would like people to know about Montessori?
MS: Lela, I'm so glad you asked! I'm in the process of finishing up a book for parents, called the Montessori Parents Handbook, *Everything You Wanted to Know About Montessori Education But Are Afraid to Ask. It should be available in spring of 2008 and will be available at http://www.montessoriparentshandbook.com/ for sure, and other places yet to be determined.
I'd like people to know that they should take a hard look at Montessori education. It is an amazing learning tool for children, and adults. I've learned so much about myself through learning and teaching with this philosophy.
I also want people to know that Montessori education isn't just for rich kids. There are over 200 public and charter Montessori schools in the United States today, started by interested and committed parents and teachers.
I've talked to so many grandparents who wished they had sent their children to a Montessori school but didn't think they could afford the tuition. Today, these grandparents say that they can't afford to not help with their grandchildren's tuition. They understand the value of Montessori education now in a way they didn't as young parents.
I encourage parents to take a careful look at Montessori education for their children. It's worth it.
Thanks, Lela, for giving me an opportunity to visit with you.
About Maren Schmidt
Maren Schmidt is an award winning Montessori teacher and author, as well as a popular workshop presenter. Over the past 25 years Maren has been a Montessori parent, teacher, school founder and director. She holds elementary teaching credentials from the Association Montessori Internationale and a M.Ed. from Loyola College in Maryland. Maren's weekly newspaper column, Kids Talk TM, is available at http://hubpages.com/hubtool/create/edit/www.KidsTalkNews.com. Maren is currently working on two books, The Montessori Parents Handbook and Mommy! Help Me LearnTM My Manners, a parenting guide for teaching pre-schoolers manners and social skills. Write to Maren@KidsTalkNews.com