Have you ever considered sending your child to a Montessori school? Not sure what they have to offer? Here’s what you need to know.
The “Montessori” method, founded in 1907, is an educational approach developed by Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori. Based on her extensive research with neurodiverse children, Montessori’s method is to teach children with an emphasis on independence, freedom within limits and a respect for a child’s natural psychological, physical and social development.
Montessori caught the eye of Alexander Graham Bell, who opened Canada’s first school of the type in Baddeck, N.S., in 1912. This was long before it became popular in the 1960s.
How does it work?
At a Montessori school the teacher observes children, then uses certain resources in the classroom to present lessons to kids who are ready to learn. Lessons are in sequence; children don’t move on to the next lesson until they have mastered the previous one. Once individual students start a lesson, they move freely around the classroom. They work with classroom materials or on follow-up projects.
What can you expect from a Montessori school?
Preschool and kindergarten: Classrooms in a Montessori school for children from 3 to 6 years old are Children’s Houses. This comes from her first Montessori school, the Casa dei Bambini in Rome in 1906. This level is “Primary.” The teacher usually presents activities. Then the children, depending on their interests, may choose which skills they want to focus on. In early childhood, students learn through sensory-motor activities, working with materials to develop learning through all five senses.
Elementary: Classrooms for this age are “Elementary” and can range in size from very small up to 30 or more children, typically staffed by a trained teacher and one or more assistants. In the elementary years, a child continues to organize thinking through work with the Montessori method. This is essentially beginning the application of knowledge to real-world experiences. Classroom materials and lessons include work in language, mathematics, history, the sciences, the arts and much more. Montessori students learn to think critically, work collaboratively and act boldly—a skill ideal for life in the 21st century.
No matter which grade level your child belongs to, all kinds of learning styles are taught at Montessori schools: musical, bodily-kinaesthetic, spatial, interpersonal, intrapersonal, intuitive and the traditional linguistic and logical-mathematical (reading, writing and math).