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Why We Montessori

Why We Montessori

MR_whywemontessoriWhen my daughter, Miss E was 2 1/2 I almost accidentally stumbled upon a local Montessori preschool and was thrilled she could attend at 33 months. With a December birthday, most traditional preschools wouldn’t enroll her until she was 3 but she could start the Children’s House preschool program at 33 months.

Almost immediately I noticed differences between traditional preschool and Montessori. The classroom flexibility, the freedom of movement, the life skills that were being taught. Of course, letters and numbers were taught but that was just the tip of the iceberg. Because Montessori is really about each individual child, Miss E could take it as far as she wanted. She loved writing her name and letters so she was able to do more and more letters and writing and words and eventual reading. For math, she learned more than just her numbers and how to count to 30. She learned how to add and subtract and solve math problems, too.

She spent three years in the Children’s House program which is meant to be 33 months through Kindergarten. She then switched to a school that goes through 6th grade and moved into another Children’s House classroom for kindergarten. Because Montessori is multiage there is a lot of developmental learning that occurs even amidst having older and younger peers.

In Kindergarten, she was part of the oldest in class and a leader. Students could learn from her and she could learn from them by helping. Now in 1st grade in E1 {which is 1st through 3rd grade} she is one of the younger students, so continually learning and looking up to some of her peers in class.

What really drew me in to Montessori was the natural approach to learning. You won’t see a room full of desks and students sitting writing on worksheets but instead you’ll see some students working on the floor with a carpet and their work in front of them. You’ll see some sitting at tables working together or reading. To some, this may sound chaotic having students moving throughout the classroom to do their work but it’s in fact very peaceful.

Teachers are more of a guide versus a classroom dictator and are there to help lead students and get them started on things but the work is ultimately the students job.

The Montessori method is based on self directed activity, hands on learning and collaborative play. Children are allowed to make creative choices as it regards to their learning and the teacher is there as a guide.

It’s no secret that my son, Mr. H’s early elementary experience wasn’t very positive. By the end of first grade, getting him to get up and go to school was a daily battle and while we tried to move him to other schools for second grade, we were unsuccessful and homeschooled. I used a myriad of curriculum and activities and really allowed him to take certain units as far as he wanted. If you have ever wanted to know anything about Titanic, he’s your guy. The I Survived series, he’s read them all, taken AR tests on them all and could still to this day pretty much recite some of the information. I approached homeschooling a lot like Montessori, that I was his guide versus his teacher and that while I made lesson plans and had ideas of how things would go and certain things that HAD to be done, he was the motivation for doing more, taking it farther, learning more about what was his interest.

While I homeschooled him, it was time to think about kindergarten and beyond for Miss E and ultimately Miss F, someday.

And even though it would mean driving 15 miles to and from an out of district school I ultimately chose to go Montessori because I wanted her to continue to experience the freedom to learn and grow without the constraints of traditional curriculum, testing and homework. Most Montessori schools do not do homework aside from daily reading at home expectations. If the school receives state funding {i.e.: charter schools} state testing requirements still apply. In this case that means once a year MCA’s starting in 3rd grade. I can live with that.

Most of all we chose Montessori because we believe in it.

The goal of Montessori is to foster a love of learning. Most traditional/public schools are working towards mastery and assessment on curriculum. That’s huge for me. I want my kids to love learning and to love school not just perform well on assessments.

Currently Miss F is in a transition Montessori classroom before she begins Children’s House next fall and Miss E is in E1. Her class consists of 8 1st graders, 8 2nd graders and 8 3rd graders and three teachers. She is thriving and continues to be my joy filled girl. I often say my goal for my kids is that they are joyful, competent and engaged learners and that’s what Montessori has shown me so far.

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