Sunday, March 28, 2010

Is Montessori right for every child?

     In a recent meeting of our Parenting Class, someone asked if Montessori is right for every child. Since this is a question that I get asked a lot, I've decided to give it a little attention here. My standard answer to the question is that Montessori is right for every child but it is not for every parent. By this I mean many things.

     Authentic Montessori schools understand that a vitally important factor in a child’s success is the understanding and involvement of the family in their child's education. On the surface, this means parents should stay informed by reading everything the school gives them (and more), and showing up (and on time) for conferences.

     However, being a Montessori parent entails much more than just reading and attending school gatherings and celebrations.

Being a Montessori parent means:

Ø observing your child on a regular basis (see this post)

Ø observing in the classroom so that you really know what goes on in there

Ø including your child in every aspect of family life

Ø slowing down and considering your child's developing needs

Ø fostering the same independence at home as at school

Ø counting to ten (and taking a deep breath) before imposing your will upon your child (unless in moments of extreme danger)

Ø doing your very best to refrain from slapping, threatening, or shouting

Ø ensuring you have not put your child into a Montessori school in order for them to get good grades when they go to "real" school. (There is sooooo much more to Montessori than that!)

Ø understanding that authentic Montessori schools are not babysitting services. (We call the 3 – 6 classroom "Primary" because that is what it is – the first and critically important years in a child's school life.)

Ø understanding that if you pull your child out in the middle of a three year level, they have NOT had a Montessori education. Taking a child out of a Montessori classroom to go into a public Kindergarten class takes away the child's leadership year. This may not seem like much to an adult but remember the young child has spent two years watching the oldest children. They've observed many things like how the oldest children give lessons and how the oldest children help to resolve conflict and how incredibly competent the oldest children are. The younger children understand that when they are 5/6 they will be the leaders and will be called upon to lead. I know this by the simple fact that every three year old I've ever had in my classroom has, at one time or another, said to me "When I'm 5 I'm going to do that work!"

Ø really trying to understand the Montessori philosophy. ( There are so many books written by so many different people that there is no reason NOT to read more. )

Ø understanding what your long-term goals are for your child and how those goals are going to be achieved.

Ø asking yourself "Are my everyday practises helping my child grow into the kind of person I'd like them to be?"



Montessori Beginnings said...

Thank you for taking the time to write this post : )
Your pink tower and brown stair look well used and loved!

Cynthia Dyer said...

Yes, that picture was taken before the new materials arrived. The ones in the picture were purchased second-hand and are probably about 20 years old. Maybe I should find a better picture.................

Real Life Montessori said...

No, I think that picture is perfect! It show character, in a good way :)

Love this post.

montessorimatters said...

I agree, nothing like a "well-rounded" Brown Stair! :) (Mine is 10 years old). Excellent post, by the way! Especially the part warning that if you take the child out midway through the three-year cycle, they have NOT had a Montessori education! WELL, WELL said!

Cynthia Dyer said...

Thanks. I know that money is a consideration and this is why understanding is so important. As you and I know, losing four-year old children also compromises the classroom but the loss to the children is so much more profound.

Bubblej said...

I just wanted to 'pop in' and say hi! I am training to be a Montessori teacher and I wanted to let you know how helpful yours posts are. I enjoy reading every one!

Cynthia Dyer said...

Good for you! I hope you find the vocation as fulfilling as I do.

Marie said...

Thanks for sharing this !
My 2 childs will be in a Montessori school next week (nursery and KG1, and I'm reading a lot of things about Montessori pedagogy,,,
Can I translate your text in French, on my blog, with the link of your blog ?

Cynthia Dyer said...

Absolutely, Marie! I am glad my musings have been helpful.

Take care.

Devika Ganapathy said...

Hi Cynthia - Your blog is really cool and has me hooked. I have a 3 year old who goes to a Montessori here in Bangalore India. I am always looking to read up more about the Montessori method, so I can support it well as a parent. I love the list on what being a Montessori parent means - Thanks for sharing your knowledge.