The Benefits Of Montessori Schools
When our children are born, we have already decided that we will raise them in the best way we can. This responsibility, however, involves us making choices for them, and one of the most fundamental choices we make is that of their education.
You may be at the stage when you are choosing a first school for your little one, or you have a child who is already in the school system, and is not fitting in, or is unhappy.
Whatever stage you are at, before you make your choice, it is worth looking into the Montessori method. In the UK, most Montessori schools are pre-schools, with some elementary, but in the US, there are elementary schools as well as some high schools.
The founder of the Montessori method of teaching was a lady called Maria Montessori, the first woman in Italy to graduate in medicine from the University of Rome. She worked with mentally retarded children, then served in a variety of university teaching positions.
In 1907, she opened the Casa del Bambini, where she taught children of normal intelligence using her methods from her research in philosophy, child development and education. She spent most of her remaining life writing, lecturing and teaching about her methods.
The Unique Atmosphere of Montessori Schools
The benefits of a Montessori education are numerous, and it is well worth visiting one to experience the atmosphere for yourself. The main goal of Montessori is to provide a stimulating, child oriented environment that children can explore, touch, and learn without fear. Each child learns at his or her own pace.
Teachers are understanding and encouraging, so that the child can enjoy learning, and feel happy about her path and purpose in life. Here are some of the benefits:
All children, whatever their abilities or interests, reach their full potential. All children fit in, including children with learning disabilities.
Hands-On Learning Materials
Many children learn best in different ways, and the equipment is designed for this. For example, one piece of equipment is the sand alphabet – the letters of the alphabet in sand on card.
The child traces over the sand letter with her finger, and then writes the letter on paper. For all subjects there are items of interest to the child, however he learns best. For example, for geography, not only are there books, but globes, map puzzles, pictures, and animal figures (sensory items).
There are also regular visits from people, pets, animals, and different activities depending on the topic at the time, eg. Chinese cooking, Italian food sampling.
Fostering Independence from a Young Age
Montessori schools teach independence from an early age. The children take an active part in running their school, like preparing and serving at the drinks break, and putting learning equipment away after they have used it. Practical tasks like sweeping, polishing, making sandwiches and tying shoe laces, are all available for children to learn on a daily basis.
Respecting Individuality and Pace
Children are not expected to conform to set standards of achievement as in conventional schools. The Montessori method takes account of the needs, talents, gifts, and special individuality of each child. The children learn at their own pace, so they are not being constrained nor criticized for what they do. There is a total freedom to learn which makes the learning fun.
Building a Community of Respect and Collaboration
In a Montessori environment children are encouraged to respect and help each other. If they choose, they will work with other children, and help each other, or ‘teach' each other, and they enjoy doing so. It is wonderful to watch children who really want to help each other.
Quality and Care: The Montessori Equipment
The equipment available for learning is unique and designed by Maria Montessori. It is exceptionally good quality equipment, which means the children value it and treat it with care. The environment of a Montessori school is peaceful and facilitates learning. Because children are happy and learning at their own pace, discipline is not an issue.