Choosing between a Montessori School and Regular School

As a Montessori teacher I am biased, but I do believe that Montessori education is far superior to public school. Many people have misconceptions about Montessori education. This is partially due to the fact that the name Montessori is not protected in any way and any body can hang a sign out their door and call themselves a Montessori school. Look for a school that has AMI or AMS Certification. In the absence of certification (some small school do not attain certification because of the expense) make sure the teacher have been properly trained by AMI or AMS. (AMI is preferable) To clear up some misconceptions…

Myth 1: Children can do whatever they want.

Reality: Children are given the guidelines of the classroom and are free to make appropriate choices withing those guidelines. The teacher introduces the materials in the classroom to the child and after the child has been given an initial demonstration, the child is free to choose that work in the future. A child is free to choose his or her own work to an extent. If the teacher feels that a certain subject matter is not getting enough attention, she will find out why and encourage more work in that subject area (even if that means creating a special project just to spark that child’s interest.) The children may tend to personal needs without asking permission. That is they may go to the bathroom, or get a drink or snack as they are needed. One of the most core principles of Montessori is fostering independence in the child. Grace and Courtesy are also taught in the classroom using role playing exercises. Thing such as how to push your chair in quietly, how to greet a visitor, how to resolve an argument, and how to ask someone for help are just a few of the many things children will learning the classroom that will help them so much in the future. So many of our children these days are just not being taught how to be kind, respectful, and well mannered. Imagine our future if all children were taught these things. The teachers are also careful to model appropriate behavior so the children can see it in action.

Myth 2: There are fewer subject areas than in a traditional class.

Reality: There are many subject areas in a Montessori classroom, much more than in a traditional classroom. The other benefit is that the child learn each skill to mastery before moving on to higher skill levels; this ensure a solid foundation upon which all of their future learning will rest. The materials in the classroom are designed to make abstract ideas tangible to a child, and allow him to manipulate them in order to create a solid understanding of advanced concepts. Imaging a 6 year old doing long division! There have also been studies that show Montessori students do better on Standardized tests then their peers in traditional classrooms.

It is important to read some of Maria Montessori’s writing to truly gain a better understanding of her philosophy. You should also go and observe a classroom to gain a better understanding of how peaceful they can be. You won’t believe your eyes when a beautiful young child greets you at the door, offers you a chair and asks if you would like a cup of tea, and then goes and makes it for you all by herself. As you sip your tea and munch on your biscotti, imaging what it could be like if all schools were Montessori. It could change the world…