Most of us aren't, given a choice. Montessori education is a way of learning that Dr. Maria Montessori identified more than 100 years ago based on observations of how kids actually learn. A Montessori classroom looks and feels different than traditional classrooms: there are no rows of desks, the teacher works one-on-one or in small groups rather than instructing at the front of the room, and no expectation that students are doing the same work at the same time. Instead, you will probably find a quiet, busy hum in the room, as kids work intently at a table or on a rug on the floor on work they have chosen from among the many offered in this carefully prepared environment. When a child has finished that work, they get up and return it to its shelf and pick something else to work on. The teacher is less an instructor and more like a guide who helps students navigate their own learning path, picking up on what excites them and nurturing them in their total growth- academically, physically, emotionally, and socially.
Hallmarks of Montessori Education
Any Montessori classroom, whether it is an infant class or a middle school class, has a few key features. They are:
They are multi-age so students can more easily learn at their own pace and from each other.
Students have freedom within limits to choose their work. Every student is expected to work within all the areas (language arts, math, geography, science, sensorial, practical life, and art) but they work with the teacher to make good choices about how and when to pursue specific works.
Instead of starting with abstract concepts, students work with concrete, physical materials and then translate those concepts to more abstract thoughts. Montessori materials have been designed to be self-correcting so students can check their own work.
Children of any background and ability can benefit from Montessori education. Maria Montessori first developed her method to serve children in Rome's most impoverished neighborhoods, and nowadays Montessori schools are also commonly found in affluent communities. Montessori programs have been successfully used in public and private schools around the world. Because the Montessori approach moves at the pace of each child, students with a wide range of abilities can thrive in Montessori classrooms. In other words, Montessori can be for everyone. It is true that children with prior experience in a Montessori setting tend to adjust to the different norms of an early-elementary Montessori program more quickly that those who have not. Even so, children without Montessori experience might find the fit is right for them. Before deciding, consider arranging a visit to the Montessori classroom and talking with other Montessori parents. You can pursue this through the contact page.