There are several important things to know about Montessori schools if you are thinking about a Montessori education for your child. Montessori schools are for students in preschool through high school, and they follow the Montessori Method of education developed by Dr. Maria Montessori. Dr. Montessori was a physician who focused on psychiatry and educational theory, which lead her to develop the Montessori style of learning. She opened the first school in 1907, and the schools have gained popularity over the last one hundred years. Although the Montessori style of learning is nontraditional, one of the things to know about Montessori schools is there are benefits to sending your child to one.
1. Key Aspects
When considering a Montessori education, there are several key things to know about Montessori schools. To begin, Montessori schools provide a much more independent education than traditional schools. Children are encouraged to focus their learning on things that interest them, and they are given uninterrupted blocks of learning time. While children do learn more independently, there is an interdisciplinary curriculum that is followed. So, you can think of Montessori education as guided education instead of directed education.
Although Montessori schools are quite different, there are actually benefits of sending your child to a Montessori school. These schools foster the individual by recognizing that everyone has different learning styles and learns at their own pace. They also promote independence, concentration skills, and organizational skills. Additionally, Montessori schools provide a caring community where older students act as mentors and teachers are caring guides.
In the United States there are more than 4,000 Montessori schools. They are usually small private schools, although, there are larger campuses. One of the nice things about private Montessori schools is they offer scholarships and reduced tuition to those who need it. However, private schools are not your only option for Montessori schools. There are 400 public schools in the United States.
4. Classroom Set-up
Montessori classrooms do not look like traditional classrooms. They are meant to be inviting, which means they have soft colors, natural light, rugs, couches, and possibly flowers. There are not rows of desks; rather, students work at tables or on mats on the floor. There is plenty of space for group activities, and there is also a designated space for each part of the curriculum. All of the learning materials are also easy to access.
Montessori teachers act as guides. They help each individual student with what to focus on learning, and they observe the progress. The teachers also encourage the students and guide them to more advanced learning when they are ready. To become a Montessori educator, teachers must become certified in Montessori education, which means they are skilled at guiding students through the curriculum on an individual basis.
6. Learning Materials
All of the learning materials in Montessori schools are adapted to the age of the student. For example, younger students may work with wooden block letters. Each material is specially designed to focus on one skill at time, such as preschoolers learning to button buttons. One unique aspect about Montessori learning materials is they are designed to involve as many senses as possible because Dr. Montessori felt it was important for the whole body to be involved when learning.
7. Multiple Age Groupings
Having multiple age groupings in a Montessori school is considered very important. Each age grouping spans three years, and the older students act as mentors to the younger students. Ideally, each class stays together for the duration of education. This provides stability and helps form bonds. Obviously, this isn’t always possible.
Montessori schools provide a comprehensive education that is tailored to each individual. They are nontraditional, but they are also worth considering, especially since they have been demonstrated to have benefits. Are you considering sending your child to a Montessori school?