by Jessica Eldridge
At Battle Creek Montessori Academy, we often have prospective families asking us, “What is Montessori?” It helps us understand why we are learning something, rather than just learning to learn. Like I said – simple, right? Once you’ve grasped the concept of Montessori education, you often wonder how or why you ever learned in any other way. But, when you are still new to Montessori, it can be a bit overwhelming. So, I’ve simplified Montessori in six philosophies that we truly value at Battle Creek Montessori Academy.
Thank you, Maria:
Montessori is based on the teachings of Dr. Maria Montessori, a medical doctor, teacher, philosopher, and anthropologist who noticed a link between the children she would see in her practice and their educational experiences. Maria set out to bring forth a way of learning that would engage children freely while nurturing their natural development. This “new” method of learning, the Montessori Method, allowed children to empower and educate themselves.
We know that all children are different. When we understand and practice the belief that all children are different, that means we truly accept that all children learn differently. Because of this, our Montessori teaching allows us to build an environment that encourages independence, observations, and preparation. Our teachers take the time to observe their students, allowing them to understand their learning patterns and characteristics. This allows us to prepare our learning environments based on how our students best learn.
We are all one:
As a school, we are preparing children for adulthood – even if that may be years down the road. This means that we treat our students the way we want to be treated. We use manners. We calmly express how we feel. We take time to work through our problems. We know that we are not perfect and we accept ourselves and our students. We trust and respect one another. And, through doing this, we help teach our children how to be mindful, graceful, and courteous.
Rewards – not here:
Some parents are often surprised by the fact that we don’t use rewards or punishments for compliance. That’s because our students develop self-discipline. A behavior or action is a response to a stimulus. If we were to snap at our friend, there is a reason behind that – maybe we are tired, overworked, or hungry. Well, in Montessori education, we understand this and first work to find the stimuli and help our student develop skills to problem-solve the situation. This instinctively helps the child understand how to handle the situation in the future.
Yup, we use rugs:
Our classrooms are not filled with rows of desks. That is because children are mobile creatures and need room to move and grow. A desk constricts a child to one spot and we believe learning is based on exploration. At BCMA, we use various tools to help children learn concepts. If a student wants to learn to count while standing – then they are encouraged to stand. If a student would rather sit cross-legged on the floor, then they are able to sit. Learning is not stationary. Our brains need different tools and textures, and our bodies need space.
The classroom, home, life, Earth… We are always practicing peace and the creation of peace. We believe we can change the world and make a positive impact through being peaceful. We encourage the same from our students.
See, Montessori isn’t all that foreign! But, just like our learning, it’s best to be hands-on. We invite you to visit us to see our Montessori in action. Caution – you just might really like it!
Jessica Eldridge is the current school leader at a public PreK-8th Montessori school in Battle Creek, Michigan. Prior to becoming the school leader, Jessica was the lead teacher for grades 6-8. Before joining the Battle Creek Montessori Academy family, she taught in both Darlington, South Carolina and Grand Rapids, Michigan. When she is not following the child, she can be found at the beach with her family.