People often have thoughts about Montessori education. Here are some common questions people ask (to avoid any misconception):
1. Montessori classrooms are too structured.
Each child is free to choose from a vast array of activities and to discover new possibilities. The teacher carefully presents the specific purpose of each material and activity in a clear and step-by-step order.
2. Montessori is just for preschool children
While the majority of Montessori schools in the United States are preschools, Montessori programs exist at age levels from birth through High School.
3. Children in Montessori classrooms are relatively unsupervised and can “do whatever they want.”
Montessori is based on the principle of the free choice of purposeful activity. If the child is being destructive or is using materials in an aimless way, the teacher will intervene and gently re-direct the child.
4. Montessori classrooms push children too far, too fast.
Each child develops at his or her own individual pace. The “miracle” stories of Montessori children being far ahead of traditional expectations for their age level reflect not artificial acceleration, but the possibilities open when children are allowed to learn at their own pace in a scientifically designed environment – well prepared in advance.
5. Montessori is only individualized education
The teacher works with children either individually or in small groups. Children can either choose to work with friends each day or to work alone.
6. Montessori is just for the gifted or special learners
The Montessori method is highly effective for a wide range of children – children with challenges to gifted learners. The reason for their effectiveness is that the learning environments have been designed to ensure success for all children.
7. If you could describe Montessori in two words?
It is a tactile education. Children can touch, smell, taste, listen and manipulate materials, such as math materials, using all of their senses.
8. Montessori schools are religious.
There are over 200 public Montessori schools in addition to 3000 private schools. Some private schools are religious. Dr. Montessori was a religious, open minded and pioneer researcher who asserted that a child has a body and a soul and both need to be nourished.
9. Montessori is against fantasy; therefore, it stifles creativity.
A child can choose to do art of all sorts and is encouraged to create his or her own journal, project and deal with problems with a positive attitude. Art and music activities are integral parts of the Montessori classroom.
10. There is no room for mistakes or failure in Montessori education.
Mistakes are welcome and problem-solving is part of the curricula. In fact, the Montessori materials are built to be self correcting, so that a child can find and correct their own mistakes. He or she can then repeat it again and again to practice the problem.
11. There is no way to tell how advanced or behind a child is because there is no grading and exams.
The teachers keep tight records of each child and the activities they perform and engage in. These records are kept in a systematic way to compare each child’s progress to averages across the country. The materials are designed in a sequence of progression. Most of our children who have spent over 3 years in a class with us, are, at minimum, a year or two beyond the public school system.
12. Montessori is only for the rich.
Montessori education is available at approximately 200 public schools in the U.S. in addition to about 3,000 private schools and most offer financial aid.