Characteristics of the Montessori Method
If you’ve been driving around lately you might have seen one or two signs boasting of a “Montessori preschool”.
You might have even thought:
What the heck is that?
What is a Montessori school?
What makes it different than other places?
There’s no doubt that it sounds fancy and like there’s a wait list a mile long.
Okay, okay, so there very well might be a wait list, but the point is that there’s a stigma attached to the name Montessori, leaving parents often confused and intimidated.
I’m here to tell you, however, that there is nothing to be overwhelmed by.
We all know by now that children learn differently and at different rates, which is why preschools offer many different types of learning methods to their students.
What the Montessori method does is offer one more alternative learning opportunity for preschoolers and their parents.
In particular, for those interested in child independence.
What is a Montessori School?
The Montessori school, as mentioned above, has a focus on independent study in preschoolers. It was designed by Dr. Maria Montessori nearly 100 years ago and has been time tested and proven to be a successful choice for childhood education over the years.
The three major hallmarks that signify a Montessori method of learning are:
- Group work that focuses on peer learning
- Blocks of uninterrupted work time
- Guided, but not designated, work activity
It is thought that the Montessori method operates under a triangle method, placing equal value on the teachers, child, and learning environment. This means that for the method to be successful and to have a valuable impact on the preschooler’s education, there needs to be emphasis on all three areas—each supporting the other. The learning environment is meant to provide a sense of order within chaos, inspiring independent thought from the child, while allowing them to seek guidance where necessary.
Montessori Pros and Cons
Like all preschool programs, you should be prepared to investigate them fully.
- Independence: Studies have suggested that independence is something that should be allowed at an early age. What the Montessori method does is encourage independence for children both inside and outside of the classroom. Children are allowed to decide what they want to work on and when, which helps increase their interest in learning. Additionally, independence early on will help them form a sense of self before entering the big schoolyard, which helps encourage self-esteem.
- Different Paces: Learning is not created equal, and therefore children learn at different paces. This helps the classroom as a whole. If little Susie, for example, is ready to learn math, but Tommy is better at writing, then they would be better suited to learn each of their subjects respectively. This helps kids flourish, as they don’t feel uncomfortable learning something at a slower rate than their peers.
- Group Activity: The Montessori method encourages group activity, which allows children to offer support within the group. This helps children value their own learning and respect the learning time of others as well.
- Excitement: Often, the Montessori method sees a rise in educational excitement when compared to other programs. This is because children are capable of choosing what they want to study and when, which implies that school is not a chore but a blessing.
- Independence: Yes, independence is a valuable trait, but some professionals (and parents) may question how early on this should be enforced. Not to mention, teachers that are not trained in the Montessori method do not always feel comfortable allowing their preschoolers to take the lead on their schooling. This in turn may result in teachers teaching half of the method and half of another, which can complicate the child’s learning overall.
- Different Paces: Learning at different paces is good in theory, but this doesn’t always translate well into the later years of school. Yes, kindergarten has reading groups and math groups for different levels, but realistically schools expect students to learn at roughly the same rates. Not learning to keep pace with others may be detrimental later on.
- Group Activity: Group activity is popular with pre k classrooms because children became excited to learn with others. However, if this is not done correctly it can result in classroom mayhem whether than a successful day of learning. Just because the Montessori approach can be taught by anyone doesn’t mean that it should.
- Excitement: A traditional classroom structure often results in time management and order, which may be a turn off for some kids. However, many others respond well under the traditional classroom because it helps them prioritize in their minds what subject is what. What the Montessori method does, however, is try and create order through chaos—and while this works a lot of the time, it doesn’t work every time for everyone.
The Montessori method is just one of many different types of San Diego preschool programs available to your preschooler. Make an informed decision by doing your research beforehand.