Weird, curious, strange, odd….all words that might describe your first impression of a Montessori classroom. It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before! Peering through the window, seeing just a glance of the classrooms, you will notice a unique style of study. In the Primary class, one child is polishing silver alongside another who is working with four-digit addition. In the Elementary room, two children are researching the biomes of South America while another is practicing her gardening skills. In the Toddler room, tiny tots are washing tables and others are learning the planets. In the Adolescent classroom, the students are discussing their internship experience at a local business, planning their next community service project, and taking orders for the salad bar lunch that they oversee on Friday. Is this really a school???
Come inside! See for yourself. Take a few minutes and look closely. The areas of Practical Life, Math, Sensorial, Language and Cultural are filled with attractive materials. Each child is actively engaged. There is cooperation and exploration. The teacher acts as a guide, not as the focus of the classroom. This type of education is so different from what many consider “traditional” education. When the focus is placed on the children, instead of testing or core standards, the students far surpass any criterion set before them. Montessori education sets up children for success!
Montessori education began over 100 years ago when Maria Montessori, Italy’s first woman doctor, began working with underprivileged children. She realized that what the children craved most was the opportunity to learn. When she stepped in and showed them a bit of order in their otherwise chaotic days, they soaked up the world like a sponge. Her initial findings still hold true today.
Take a look back inside that previously mentioned classroom. You will see that the child polishing silver is as equally engaged as the child working with addition. Each individual child is working with a ‘lesson’ that speaks to his personal interest. Solving that equation takes some time, and once accomplished, that little boy shares his joy with the child next to him. It just happens to be the girl polishing silver. His joy sparks her interest and the next day, he is teaching her how to use the math lesson.
The love of learning thrives inside the Montessori classroom. Children enjoy the process and absorb the concepts presented. We know that students who are actively engaged in their studies not only retain the information, but strive to learn more. “Outside the box thinkers” and “life-long learners” often describe Montessori school graduates. Isn’t that what all parents want for their children?