Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Montessori: Two things that make it great

Miss A is in preschool at a Montessori school this year. I probably wouldn't have given Montessori much thought if I weren't for her previous preschool teacher (we love you, Miss Maren) making the decision to not teach preschool again this year. That same day (or maybe the next, but for sure in the same week) I found out about a charter school opening up in our county that was a Montessori school and they had room for 27 preschool students. Well, hot dog! I knew I had to jump on that chance! Idaho school aren't really known for their academic excellence (shocking, I know!) and with all the obsessive mothers in this town, wanting their child to be the best, smartest, cutest, fastest, highest over-achiever, I knew I had to jump on this before all the spots were full. Well, as it turns out, Idaho moms are also pretty cheap, and the $222 per month for tuition wasn't exactly their cup of tea (or can of diet soda, since so many of them are LDS, and see tea as being a huge taboo (more on that some other time)), so I was able to get Miss A in without much effort. Well, I was excited! My daughter was going to get an exclusive Montessori education (and for those that know me, I'm sooooooo into exclusivity (insert eye roll here)). Well, according to Them (the Montessori educators?) it takes six weeks for a kid to "Normalize" and get used to the Montessori way. It's been my experience in volunteering in Miss A's classroom, that for some kids it takes an entire school year, but that's not the point of this post.

The point is, I like Montessori. It has taught Miss A independence. She's able to choose her "works" and do what she wants to do. Sure there are days when she only draws pictures and eats snack, but most days she comes home pretty wore out. Now, I'm in no way an expert on Montessori (although someday I might consider getting Montessori training), but from what I've been able to ascertain and been told, is that when students are engaged in a task of their choosing, they spend more time on the task. I've seen 4-6 year olds working very diligently and intently on one task for 30+ minutes. Granted at the same time there are other kids not on task, but I still think it's pretty impressive that these small people can work so hard on their own, without a teacher constantly on top of them, telling them what to do. The other thing that I've learned is that children are ready to learn different things at different times. And the activities that they are choosing are the ones in which they will learn the most. The places where their learning is ready to explode. I've seen Miss A learn a lot this year. Sure, the first three months or so were rough, and she wasn't on task a lot of the time, but through regular communication with her teacher, we've really been able to get her going well.

I'm going to do a number of posts on Montessori over the next little while, until the government gets their budget worked out. My husband works for a contractor for the Navy, so we are affected by the budget problems, and until a budget gets settled on, we are keeping our money close to our chests, so I don't have much of a budget for creating. But I do have some ideas floating around in my brain I would love to work on.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

I adore posts like this. My mother sent my to a Montessori preschool & still raves about it 30 years later. My currect fav approach to education is Waldorf, which is very close to Montessori, but don't tell a M. person or a W. person that. (;

Sorry to hear Carl is affected by this budget thing in DC. Just remember the John Adams quote: "In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is a congress."