I first came across Montessori when I was researching where to send Lex for preschool. If you’ve never had to decide on a preschool, then you can’t even begin to imagine the different types of preschools available, all with different theories on learning. I’m getting a headache just thinking about it.
Montessori really interested in me because I believe that it offers the best education to children. I’ve been known to get a little overzealous in praise of Montessori and come off as a bit cheerleader-esque. I wrote this list to better explain why I love it so gosh darn much. Maybe it’ll help some poor parent whose head is pounding while they research preschools.
7 Reasons Why Montessori Rocks
1. Independence! Lex entertains himself. He can and does complete tasks all on his own. He has the freedom to make his own choices. He knows I’m there to help him answer any questions (and he has a buttload of them!) but for the most part he does things on his own and gets immense pride from it.
2. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Montessori teaches it. Values it. Works it into their curriculum. The kids are taught to shake hands and look you in the eye. Lex has stellar manners. We insist on it and I like that’s it’s reinforced at school.
3. Mixed age classrooms. Some people view mixed age classes as a negative. The thinking is that the younger children will hold back the older more advanced students. I don’t believe this to be true at all. In Montessori, as opposed to a traditional classroom, the student chooses their own work and can advance through it at a pace comfortable to them. I had a (shitty) teacher in third grade isolate and torment a boy who wasn’t as advanced in his reading skills and then berate me when I tried to help him. This would not happen in a Montessori environment. The older children are eager to help the younger kids. Helping the younger ones reinforces what they’ve already learned and gives them another way to feel proud of their accomplishments. Plus there’s no age barrier for play! Older kids play kindly with younger kids without fear of feeling weird or anything.
4. Same teacher for three years. The teachers really get to know the kids: intellectually, developmentally, and personally. They get time to know their likes and dislikes and idiosyncrasies. When you spend that much time with the students, you know them better as individuals and are better able to guide their learning.
5. Self paced learning. The kids can do their work for as long as possible, over and over, until they feel they’ve learned all they can. They can go back to work they’ve mastered without being made to feel like they’re regressing. There’s no sense of feeling rushed through a project because there is no rushing.
6. The materials! The pink tower, brown stair, red rods. Each one has a higher level of learning than it first presents. Lex’s favorite work* last year was the binomial cube. The binomial cube is a puzzle cube that represents the binomial formula. Algebra! Algebra presented at a level that can be understood by three year olds.
7. A lifelong love of learning. This is the most important quality to me. The kids are not taught that school is something to dread. It’s a place where they can (and do) learn freely. Where they ideas are respected. I want my kids to have an internal motivation for learning. I don’t want them to ever stop asking questions and looking for answers. I believe, truly and completely, that Montessori is the best method of learning that facilitates a curious mind.
* The Montessori activities are called work. Maria Montessori believed that children take their play as seriously as we adults take our work.