If you are thinking about a Montessori elementary school or preschool program for your child, you may already know some of the differences between a Montessori school and public schools. Montessori schools are based on the ideas of Dr. Maria Montessori. Also, Montessori school allows children more hands-on learning than public schools classroom do.
Some Montessori Basics
Montessori schools look at children’s learning as work. They encourage a child’s natural curiosity. They do this by offering children an interesting variety of choices. A Montessori elementary school classroom has one of each activity that fits into the stage of development that fits the needs of the children in the classroom. If you have ever been inside a Montessori classroom, you will have noticed the colorful activities carefully placed about the space. The children are allowed to choose freely from these activities.
The Montessori elementary and preschool classrooms are set up in such a way as to encourage kids to be active in their learning. Each child will choose an activity that interests him/her. If the child is new to the activity, the teacher will spend one-on-one time teaching the child about the activity. The day within a Montessori classroom is divided into large chunks of work time. The child may spend as much time as he/she needs to learn an activity. Cleaning up and replacing the tools used in each activity is part of what children learn in a Montessori classroom. Care of the tools and respect for the space is important in a Montessori education.
Some things you may want to consider when looking at Montessori education are:
1. What’s your child’s learning style
Kids that learn through reading and writing or by listening may do well in public schools. However, all kids are likely to find the active learning of a Montessori school engaging. Children who learn by reading and writing, learn well by filling out worksheets and writing essays. This type of learning may be encouraged in public schools. Children who learn by listening may do well in a public school where there is a lot of verbal repetition. However, all children will thrive in the colorful Montessori classroom. Here children learn by manipulating learning tools designed for kids in their stage of development. These classrooms are also set up to help children use all of their senses to learn. The learning tools they will use are colorful, sturdy, and engaging.
2. Does your child have a high level of energy ?
Some kids have too much energy to sit quietly in a seat for hours. High energy children may be more likely to do well in a Montessori school. These classrooms aren’t designed to keep children in their seats. Children are allowed to work in a variety of sitting and standing positions. This lets a child move about without being seen as disruptive.
3. Is your child highly curious?
Some children are happy to sit quietly and listen to lessons. However, some curious children want to know more. Highly curious children may be more likely to do well in a Montessori school. Montessori teachers are trained to help children explore and find their own answers. Montessori schools let children ask hard questions and help them to learn how to find answers.
4. Does your child need individual instruction?
Some children need one-on-one instruction. This isn’t something you can expect to happen often in public schools. However, one-on-one instruction is often used in Montessori learning.
5. Will your child be comfortable in a multi-age classroom?
Since Montessori classrooms are grouped around a child’s stage of development, you will see children of more than one age in a single classroom. You may find children from 3-6 or 6-9 in the same classroom. This lets children learn from each other. A child is allowed to grow within a class where he/she will stay with the same teacher for several years. As the child grows he/she will become a leader in the classroom. In a Montessori classroom, it is common to see older children helping their younger classmates. This allows each child to develop a sense of mastery as he/she improves his/her skills. It also allows each child to learn what it is like to lead as well as to follow.
Hill Point Montessori in West Hills, California offers 3 programs – Primary for Ages 3-6; Lower Elementary for Ages 6-9; and Upper Elementary for Ages 9-12. Montessori education groups students according to their abilities, unlike traditional education where students are grouped by age. This allows students to work together and collaborate throughout their learning journey as they guide each other.