Every family functions differently, and each child will thrive in different environments. Montessori school is said to be perfect for every child, but every family may not be perfect for Montessori. Parents must understand what is offered at a Montessori school to make an informed decision about whether it is right for their children.
Is Montessori school right for your child? Every child can benefit from a Montessori education. The Montessori approach is adaptable and beneficial to all children, no matter how they learn.
Montessori schools share the belief that children are born with a passion for learning. When adults can help children dig deeper into those specific interests and passions, they can help them cultivate their love of learning instead of diminishing this love with assignments and grades. Read on to find out if Montessori school could be for you and your child.
Montessori School: Is It Right for My Child?
Montessori schools promote rigorous, self-motivated learning through manipulating and exploring the world around them. If your child is curious and enjoys independent play, then Montessori school may be exactly what your child needs!
Montessori school can significantly benefit children who:
- Are sensitive to noise
- Get overwhelmed by disorder in their environment
- Have a difficult time sitting for long periods
Each child offers different qualities and requires different things in their daily life. Because of this, Montessori teachers do their best to assist each child individually and holistically.
Teaching the whole child involves addressing emotional, physical, social, and cognitive growth. Montessori teachers believe it is their job to assist children in maturing and growing in all aspects of their development, not just academically.
Some things you will find in a Montessori classroom include:
- Calm, not chaos – The Montessori ideology stresses an emphasis on respect, organization, and tranquil attitudes within the classroom.
- Cleanliness, not messiness – Children are encouraged to clean up whatever they have been playing with or working on before moving on to the next activity. This enables the classroom to remain clean, which allows students to calmly focus on one activity at a time and not grow overwhelmed with clutter and multiple open projects.
- Independent children directing their learning – Instead of the teacher assigning projects and homework to the students throughout the day, children in a Montessori classroom are encouraged to direct their learning and explore their educational path by manipulating the world around them.
- Mixed-age groups – Montessori classrooms often have mixed ages within one classroom, which promotes mentorship and encourages learning.
For those households that are more strict and disciplined, your child may find the freedom and flexibility of guiding their learning to be a foreign concept and difficult at first. For children who live in a household that doesn’t have guidance or rules, they may find the boundaries of a Montessori school to be restricting. However, all children can adapt and blossom within a Montessori school!
What is the Montessori Method?
Maria Montessori was the first Italian female doctor in the early twentieth century. She observed child development and created a method of education based on their development style, rather than the conventional style of education that fights against natural child instincts.
For example, she noticed that younger children thrive when they are moving around, continuously working on new things, and allowing their creativity to control the time they remain on one task. So, in her educational method, she chose to promote a more natural learning environment that proved to be very conducive for children as they learn.
The ten foundational Montessori school principles are:
- Experimental learning – Instead of sitting and listening to a lecture or writing on paper, Maria believes children need to manipulate physical objects during learning and explore lessons through touch and play.
- Individuality within learning – Each child works at their own pace and on their level of learning. No child is forced to be at the same level as another child.
- Uninterrupted time limits on work – Open-ended teaching, questioning and exploring offer each student opportunities to use their creativity to expand on what they want to learn and what interests them, while still guiding the student on what topic to explore independently.
- Additional academics – Alongside typical subjects like math, science, and English, Maria Montessori added practical life skills and sensory play.
- Educating the whole child – Instead of merely teaching children academics, Maria believed it was essential to teach the whole child – spiritual, physical, emotional, and social.
- Freedom within limits – A Montessori teacher will present a lesson activity to their students who then have the freedom to explore it and manipulate it in their own time. Children are not allowed to run around wild. Instead, they are allowed to explore and learn freely within the boundaries that are set.
- Peaceful education – Maria Montessori lived during a time of strife and war throughout the world. Because of this, she chose to put a strong emphasis on peace, unity, and respecting others.
Maria believed that the future of the world depended on children’s ability to live at peace with one another. She believed in cultivating the entire child through exploration and independence. Her method has blossomed into a worldwide educational style, and many children continue to learn by her method every year.
What Are the Advantages of Montessori School?
There are numerous advantages to placing your child in a Montessori school, especially from a young age, before conventional schools have laid a foundation on goal-oriented success.
Covering all of the bases of your child’s holistic development will enable them to become well-rounded adults in the future. Although each child has different strengths, weaknesses, tastes, and interests, the Montessori method was created to cater to each type of child at whatever level they may be, both academically and socially.
Some advantages to Montessori school are:
- Child-centered learning – Children are active participants in what they want to learn and how they want to learn; thus, their innate flame for learning that they are born with will grow instead of diminishing.
- Promotes divergent thinking – Divergent thinking is a thought process that supports creative thinking and spontaneous, free-flowing ideas that cultivate independent learning.
- Learning methods inspire creativity – Open-ended teaching, questioning and exploring offer each student opportunities to use their creativity to expand on what they want to learn and what interests them, while still guiding the student on which topic to explore independently.
- Real-life skills are taught – Promoting real-life practical skills is a critical component of the Montessori approach. The belief behind this is to promote independence and skills that will prove to be helpful in each student’s life.
- Teachers help instead of instruct – Teachers are present to help children if they need assistance with the skill they are working on developing. They will often work one-on-one with students or in small groups, instead of the conventional teaching method in front of the entire classroom.
People are trained by today’s society to push toward goals to avoid punishment and to prove their success. Because of this, the Montessori method is a confusing and counter-productive concept to some. However, when correctly implemented, it can allow our children to thrive and cultivate the love for learning that was born inside of them.
What Are the Disadvantages of Montessori School?
The main disadvantage of Montessori schools is how much they differ from traditional schools and the way that most people view academic education and success.
In general, our world does not function under the fundamentals of the Montessori method. The world bases progress on tangible success, such as:
- Financial gain
- Developmental speed
Therefore, a Montessori school may not be for every single family. Being a Montessori family comes with struggles and sacrifices, just like any new and innovative learning style might bring.
Committing to your child’s education is never an easy process, let alone having your child attend a Montessori school where they learn a way of education and learning that most of the world will not understand.
Another reason that Montessori may be considered to be a disadvantage is the financial responsibility that it entails. The government does not fund Montessori schools because they are usually independent, private schools. So, it is challenging for them to keep tuition costs low.
See also: How much do Montessori schools cost?
How Do I Decide if Montessori School is Right for My Child?
There are many different reasons why Montessori school could be perfect for your child. Maria Montessori created the Montessori method with the idea that children deserve to learn at their own pace and thrive in their own unique way; therefore, Montessori schools could arguably be perfect for every child.
Here are some instances where Montessori school could be a perfect match for your child:
- Your child thrives when moving around and exploring.
- Your child has test or homework anxiety and continually gets behind in conventional school.
- You believe in cultivating all areas of your child’s development and not just their academic success.
- You want your child to learn mutual respect and unity towards all.
- Your child thrives in an atmosphere where they can direct their learning.
Because Montessori schools encourage each student to guide their learning and academic exploration, it is flexible and moldable to many different personality types.
Montessori teachers allow freedom within limits. This means that children will be allowed to explore and experiment inside the classroom, as long as they remain respectful and are engaging in a task that has the opportunity for growth.
As a family, it is necessary to sit down and discuss your child’s needs, what you can afford, and if you feel like you can also promote Montessori ideologies within your own home. Once these issues have been discussed, you can confidently try out Montessori and see how your child adapts and thrives within their new lifestyle!
When Can I Put My Child in Montessori School?
The largest age group of children who attend Montessori schools are 3- to 6-years-old. These preschool years are often when a child’s foundational developments are being cultivated and expanded.
Children under the age of 4 are continually building their foundation for what will determine the rest of their life. Because of this, these formative years are very crucial, and what children learn and are exposed to could dictate their adolescence and adulthood.
Standard Montessori age groups include:
- Two months to 3 years
- 4 years to 6 years
- 7 years to 12 years
- 12 years to 15 years
- 15 years to 18 years
Even though early childhood education is the most popular age group for Montessori schools, there are a few high schools around the country that offer Montessori education.
Most early childhood programs work on motor skill development as well as emotional development. There is a great deal of play that becomes learning-centered because of the age-appropriate goals of each group. As children get older and begin learning common academic subjects, more structure is added.
Deciding when to place your child in Montessori school and when to take them out will be up to each family’s personal preference. Ideally, children who go to Montessori school will begin as young as three years old.
However, it is never too late to begin Montessori school, and Montessori teachers will do their best to meet each child where they are both academically and emotionally.
Related: What is the right age to start Montessori?
How Long Should I Keep My Child in Montessori School?
The majority of Montessori schools end at age five because their main focus is early childhood. However, Montessori schools that offer elementary grades often stop after age twelve. Montessori high schools are scarce in our country because of a lack of interest.
To get into most colleges, children need to take tests such as the SAT and ACT; therefore, parents often want their children in conventional schools by the time they are of high school age.
Many Montessori schools offer a year-round program, enabling children to keep the same consistent routine throughout the year without disruption. This can prove to be very beneficial, especially when your child is under the age of five.
Some reasons to keep your child in Montessori school throughout their entire education are:
- To continue the love of learning they have cultivated
- To keep your child’s focus on personal growth, instead of exterior achievements
- To avoid a potentially difficult transition into a traditional school
There is not one cut and dry answer to decide when your child should leave the Montessori school system. Some children will only thrive in Montessori schools for their early childhood career, whereas others may continue to succeed and enjoy this learning method throughout their entire educational lifespan.
Therefore, you must do what is best for you and your child, and try not to let the social pressure of the outside world affect your decision making when it comes to your child’s best interest.
Who Should Go to Montessori School?
Because Montessori school doesn’t merely teach in one way with one method, it can be suitable for most children. Montessori schools focus on independent learning, and they encourage each child to be the guide of their educational journey.
When a child shows interest and preparedness in a particular new task or educational piece, the teachers facilitate their learning toward whatever way works best for them.
Montessori school is fantastic for learners who learn:
All children can benefit from a Montessori education, especially if they thrive on independence and exploration. Focusing on all types of development is one thing that Montessori teachers pride themselves on!
Montessori schools encourage children to be independent, as well as respectful of everyone they meet. As a result, the Montessori method could easily have a positive impact on every single child who experiences it.
The types of development that Montessori schools focus on are:
Teaching the whole child instead of just the academic aspects of a child’s development is the most fundamental aspect of the Montessori method. Each child deserves the time and freedom to grow in all aspects of their being, instead of being forced to focus on rigorous academics for 8 hours each day.
Should I Send My Toddler to Montessori School?
Early childhood is the absolute best time to send your child to a Montessori school. Children who are young and impressionable will be able to start their Montessori journey with a clean slate, without any preconceived notions or expectations of what it will be like or what will be expected of them as a student.
Toddlerhood is arguably the perfect time of your child’s life to expose them to the core values and beliefs of Montessori schools. Allowing your child to begin their development within a Montessori atmosphere can be utterly rewarding for both you and your child.
During the first three years of a child’s life, they create a cognitive foundation regarding:
- Their character
- Norms in daily life
- Expectations of others
- Social cues
- Their imagination
When Montessori educators can work with children from a very young age, they can more easily teach them what it is to have a strong love of learning. Through exploration and imagination, they can be encouraged to learn outside of the box instead of through paperwork and strict instruction.
Sending your toddler to Montessori school can help them create a solid foundation for the rest of their educational career. Laying the groundwork correctly the first time around is critical so that there are not any poor or harmful learned behaviors that will one day get in the way of their development.
Here are some things that Montessori schools can offer toddlers:
- A strong foundation of learning
- The encouragement of healthy emotional and social skills from a young age
- Freedom for the toddler to let it known when they are ready to learn something new
- Aid in creating a more profound sense of respect for all
- The encouragement of the cultivation of peace within their lives and in the world around them.
Overall, if you are considering sending your child to a Montessori school, the sooner you place them in the school, the better. Montessori is a unique learning method, and children will have an easier time adapting to it when they are younger and haven’t learned the styles of conventional school settings yet.
What Can Montessori Schools Offer My Family?
Practicing the same principles at home that your child practices at their Montessori school can significantly benefit your child as well as the other members in your household. Consistency is required in any child’s life, so it is encouraged to participate in the same belief system at home, as your child does in school.
Families who treasure mutual respect, independence, unique personal differences, and creativity will likely thrive in a Montessori environment. Even if your child is the only one attending Montessori school, they will bring what they have learned into your home, and this can prove to be a very beneficial experience for the entire family.
Some ways to use Montessori at home include:
- Independence – Encouraging your child to make their snack, clean up their toys, and brush their teeth are all Montessori encouraged tasks that will, in turn, benefit a busy parent who appreciates an independent child
- Observation – Watching your children play, without instructing them on how to complete a specific activity is a terrific way to implement Montessori methods within the household
- Correcting your child – Gently correct your child while always giving them respect. If your child pronounces a word incorrectly, simply continue to use it correctly without correcting their speech on the spot
- Prepared environment – Creating a simplistic, yet visually attractive play area without too much clutter and with open-ended toys is an excellent way to spark your child’s imagination at home
- Absorbent Mind – Instead of lecturing or assigning your children things to do, simply help them to find learning opportunities through play and everyday life situations
Montessori methods can prove to be very beneficial within your own family. Children who grow up learning independence and creativity will have an easier time becoming their own person and caring for themselves as they grow into adolescence.
To learn more about incorporating Montessori in your home, click here.
How is Montessori School Different from Traditional Schools?
Montessori schools mainly focus on the entire child instead of just academics. It also doesn’t force all children to be on the same page of the same textbook at the same time. Each child learns at their pace.
Conventional schools focus predominantly on academic development and growth. Montessori schools focus on every aspect of a child’s development: emotional, academic, physical, social, and spiritual.
Montessori is different than traditional schools in that:
- They are child-centered – Each child inside a Montessori school directs their learning by cultivating their interests through play and exploration.
- The curriculum is adaptable – Rarely are two children on the same level at the same time throughout their educational career at a Montessori school.
- Teachers follow the children – Instead of preparing a child for classroom work, teachers prepare the classroom for their children so that when they walk in each day, they can gravitate to what interests them and fulfill their learning potential on their terms.
- Mutual respect is modeled – All adults respect all children, just as they would another adult. Children are also encouraged to respect everyone equally, which creates an open atmosphere of admiration and mutual respect.
- Lessons are hands-on – The Montessori method believes it is important to stray away from paperwork, instructed assignments, and sitting for long periods. Instead, they focus on hands-on learning activities while stimulating the child mentally, physically, and socially.
- Interruptions are minimal – Because teachers respect children, they respect their concentration. They believe in minimal interruptions so that they do not disturb the learning process of each child. Once a child has completed their self-directed task, a teacher can then step in and ask the child about their work and what their goal is.
All in all, Montessori schools want children to cultivate a strong love of learning. This will look different for each child, and that is why it is so important to allow each child to discover what this love is in their way, on their own time.
Even though there are boundaries to independence in a Montessori school for the sake of focus and mutual respect, children will receive the utmost opportunity to cultivate who they were meant to be on their terms inside of a Montessori classroom.
Related: What Makes a Montessori Classroom Different?
Because they cultivate a love for learning, teach the whole child, and respect each student and teacher equally, Montessori schools are a fantastic alternative to traditional school settings. Each child is different, but Montessori caters to them in their way and allows each child to be the guide of their learning and development.
Each Montessori school does its best to meet each child exactly where they are within their development. This way, children have more opportunities to learn and grow at their own pace!