Is A Montessori School Suitable for Your Children?
Many parents send their children to Montessori schools. Their motivations are certainly diverse and some parents know exactly what to expect from the approach of a Montessori whereas others hear from other parents about such schools or perhaps come to admire the school due to its location to the home or neighbors who also have children at the same school.
Before we can determine whether the Montessori educational system is suitable for our children, we should find out what a Montessori school actually is. What is the difference between it and other public or private pre-schools?
Dr. Maria Montessori, is a founder of Montessori education and was an influential educator of early age children within the 20th century. Dr. Montessori was the first woman to graduate from the University of Rome medical school and became interested in education because of her work as a doctor. At first she set up a school for disadvantaged children because their parents had to work in Rome then as a scientist, she observed the development of young children and found ways to help them achieve their potential.
The Montessori system was designed to help children with tasks of inner construction as they grow from childhood to adults and was a great success due to the principles established that follow a child’s natural development. Dr. Montessori created an education system that forces children to be independent and she has loved to learn since an early age. She believes that children from birth until the age of 6 experience a period where they have the greatest capacity to learn and her system of teaching takes advantage of that.
Maria Montessori noticed that there is a difference between the creative imagination (based on reality) and fantasy (based on non-real events) when she observed children playing and realized that they really want to be able to do real things in the real world, not just pretending. So Montessori schools really appreciate imaginative play but will always try to help children work with objects and real situations.
What’s the difference between regular and Montessori schools?
In regular schools of education, teachers or adults will actively provide instructions and controls – not give trust to the inner ability of the child. In contrast, Montessori schools see children as a dynamic little kids, full of creative potential and it gives them maximum freedom therefore they can evolve as individuals who are happy and confident. It puts more emphasis on the importance of the learning process, not merely the result.
Montessori schools also utilize the principle of children-centred education, not teacher-centred. A teacher is only as a motivator and she/he will lead the children in activities. Montessori schools understand that children will learn better if they are learning by doing. Thus, children will have a positive image of themselves and will be more confident for a more successful future.
The Montessori system believes that discipline is something that must come from within and not something that is always directed by others. They do not rely on reward and punishment. By providing freedom in the learning environment and the child can learn to love and care for others, can develop self-confidence and control over their own behavior. So Montessori teachers will handle their children with respect when the child is annoying or disturbing others. Teachers in effect help the child to develop social and emotional skills needed to participate in society.
I sent my little girl to a Montessori school in Jeddah and I do not only like the technical teaching of the Montessori system but they also give my daughter Islamic lessons. My daughter was used to being a spoiled girl and she cried a lot when she started school. Even until the end of the first year when she had to perform on stage she was shy, did not want to dance on the stage and only faced the audience when standing still until the end. However, Masha Allah, during the 2nd and 3rd year of school, she has changed a lot. She has become a talkative, brave, and confident girl!
I didn’t select my son’s current kindergarten because of the Montessori method per se. I chose it because it is child centred, practices activity-based learning (I am fine with any of the child centred learning philosophies e.g. Montessori, Reggio Emilia, etc). Beside, the school has good communication with parents, they regularly update us on school activities and speak English. (Sister Azyyati, Singaporean).
I chose the Montessori Method for my sons because it respects each child’s individual differences. My sons were placed in a level which fits his capabilities/abilities. Classes or levels are not according to age groups. Rather its according to their abilities. Tasks given to them are pegged according to these. Tasks are challenging enough to get them interested and motivated. Not too difficult else they will give up and not too easy else they get bored. Also they are free to do any activities which interest them. The Montessori learning resources ensure that different aspects of learning are covered so that the child will grow spiritually, emotionally, physically and intellectually. The child is seen as an important part of the environment. As a member of the family, community, the world, the universe. The environment itself is very important in their learning. Also, the Montessori Method places emphasis on the child being responsible for his learning. He is the discoverer and the teacher as the facilitator, helping only when necessary. (Sister Hayati, Singaporean).
Surely all kids have different characters and personalities but hopefully my story and other parents’ experiences will be useful for all of you who are seeking information for your pre-school toddler.