Montessori schools — The Bump

Montessori schools

Does anyone send their kids to a Montessori school? What can you tell me about them? I'm wondering if it may be an option for DS when he is a little older (the local school is for kids ages 3-12). TIA!
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Re: Montessori schools

  • Wow, thanks for all the info! Sounds like a good option. I will have to check out our local schools.
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  • I do. Montessori is a very different approach than mainstream schools of today. The method was created by an Italian physician named Maria Montessori before the turn of the 20th century. Yes, a female doctor in Italy. She worked with underprivileged kids and those with mental or developmental delays (including institutions). What she found is that if you give kids a chance to really explore their world (in an environment specially designed to help them do this), they can really do more than you imagined. The "teacher" (or guide or director)'s role is not to "teach" in the sense of trying push information into a child's brain but rather to look at the child's interests, skills, and developmental level to determine what materials they are ready to be exposed to. They show the child the materials including how to get them down from the shelf, how to work with them, how to put them away step by step. The teacher shows the child, then helps the child, then the child can use the materials themselves. The materials are designed to build on each other, to use all senses, and to mimic skills needed in day to day life. The kids learn how to be part of their community and respect for others and for possessions (meaning less throwing of toys etc). During the "work cycle" portion of the day, a child can choose their activities. They get the materials down, place them on a table or mat with their name card, work as long or as short a time as they want, return the materials, and choose another. They can choose anything in practical life (pouring, sewing, buttoning or using zippers), arts, science, or geography, or language or math if they have had the lesson. Most schools also have a good emphasis on outdoor play or work like gardening, songs, and foreign languages. They are not inherently religious but may have a prayer at lunch to show thankfulness. The negative things are that it can be an adjustment to go from having a lot of freedom to having much less in mainstream schools. It is not a free for all; there is plenty of structure in terms of how to treat people and materials even including how to get items off the shelves, but it is different than having to raise your hand to sharpen a pencil or having to focus on what the teacher says instead of your own preferred work. There is also not a lot of scope for imaginary play. Schools are run differently so a good school will have some unstructured outdoor or indoor time appropriate for development. Ours has an after care room with more modern toys like Mr Potato Head and a puppet theater and dress up as well as "Montessori" type things like wooden puzzles and a weaving center. Outside they have a stand thing that they rotate toys in an out of so some days it's a grocery store and others it's an ice cream stand, etc. This is a little unusual for Montessori (more typical of Reggio Emilia), but I love it. Also even in work cycles if my child wants to quietly sit by the window with a friend and play like they're superheroes, that's fine, but they are redirected if they get rowdy and disturb others' work. I've toured other schools where the kids were not allowed to socialize at all and it's very much nms. Also any school can use the Montessori name as it isn't copyrighted, so do your research and make sure each class has at least one Montessori trained teacher and that they meet AMS or AMI certification (Montessori people will argue which is better). Here is an example of a Montessori material for math so you get a sense for how they learn spacially rather than just theoretically:
    My almost 4yo has been at a Motessori school for nearly a year. This is a great explanation. My 1yo starts next month too. We are Montessori fans!
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