Montessori from a Student’s Perspective
The summer is the perfect time to start thinking about the upcoming school year. It may seem crazy right? School just got out and you are headed to the zoo, parks and on play dates with other families but now is the time to do your research. With so many Montessori schools emerging both in the private and public sector you may have some visiting to do before this upcoming school year. As I say time and time again, make sure to visit the school and observe, take tours, ask questions and see if the school is a fit for your family and children.
To kick off the summer, I asked two of my former students about their experiences in Montessori education and I am happy to share with you their responses. Both of them came from different educational backgrounds before attending a Montessori school. The first student, Arianna was homeschooled through 2nd grade before entering a Montessori classroom for the first time. The second student, Meredith had been in the traditional public school system through 4th grade and felt that Montessori was more her style. Here are their stories….
I entered the Montessori environment in third grade, leaving homeschooling. I was in a classroom with fourth and fifth graders as well, because the Montessori course doesn’t limit ages, which, in a way, was great because I was able to look up to the older students as role models. What I experienced just within my first year was definitely impressive; I was able to learn at my own pace, and no one was holding me back. Since then, I have stayed in the same school and am now graduating their middle school program.
The main benefit, for me, from Montessori teaching is its style of learning. As a younger student, most of the materials were very beneficial and gave a new way of instructing new concepts. Based on my judgment, I’m almost positive that this education prepared me for education to come, whether it’s Montessori or not, thus another asset. Many of Montessori’s concepts can be used later, because the whole point is to create new habits that the child can use further on in life, in which this approach, along with almost all the others, took effect on me.
The best thing that came out of my Montessori experience was the responsibility and integrity that I gained. Many people thought that Montessori didn’t prepare me well enough for middle school or high school, but I believe the opposite. When I first started Montessori I was quite careless. Then, slowly but surely I started to earn the trust of my teachers and I was able to work on whatever I felt needed to be worked on. I also learned to become a leader in the classroom. My teachers trusted me to show integrity in the classroom and to set an example for the other students. When I was in 6th grade, I was seen as a leader. My friends and I would help make the classroom a better place. We would help kids that were having trouble with their work and we would assist the teachers when they were giving presentations or were really stressed out.
In the second semester, we were given notebooks to record what we did each day. My teachers would guide us on what to work on and we decided when to work on it. At the end of each week, we would hand in those notebooks and our teachers would decide if we did enough with the time we had, if we were slacking off or being lazy they would monitor the way we would spend our time more closely until we could better manage it ourselves. I like it that way because I didn’t have the feeling of being forced to do work. When previous teachers would tell me what to work on I felt forced to do it and this made me not want to give it my best effort. When I was handed the notebook I was given the opportunity to do work freely and because of this I gave it my best effort and I knew that I had time to complete it to the best of my ability. If I needed more time I could get the easier things out off the way first so that they weren’t weighing me down.
Today I go to a public school and I have 6 hours, each hour is for one of my subjects, and in 8th grade I had science in my last hour. Sometimes I would have a project in science that I knew I was lagging behind on. I would worry throughout the whole day for 6th hour to come, which would sometimes cause me to do worse in other subject because my mind was in science when I was in math. When I had the notebook I could get the thing that was troubling me out of the way and then I could focus on whatever I wanted to without being distracted. This is just one reason why I love the way Montessori teaches kids. They give us the tools to be more organized and do the work properly.
One quote that I still remember from my Montessori experience was, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.” Montessori showed me what direction I should go and then I found a way to get there. All in all, I think Montessori helped improve my learning and time management skills very much and it even helped me prepare for my life outside of a Montessori school.
So when you think about the impact a Montessori school can have on your children, I hope you remember the words of these students. Both have graduated 8th grade this year and will be moving onto high school. They have big dreams and both accredit their Montessori education for helping them to feel motivated to chase them!