“Education today, in this particular social period, is assuming truly unlimited importance. And the increased emphasis on its practical value can be summed up on one sentence: education is the best weapon for peace.”
– Maria Montessori, Education and Peace
Maria Montessori was an Italian physician and educator who was best known for her acclaimed educational method that focuses on the way children naturally learn. Born in Chiaravelle, Italy in 1870, she became the first female physician in Italy upon her graduation from medical school in 1896.
As a young woman, Maria engrossed herself in many fields of study, as she began as a doctor with a focus on psychiatry. Furthermore, she went on to develop an interest in education, attending classes on pedagogy and educational theory.
In 1900, she was appointed co-director of a new training institute for special education teachers. After much research and experimentation, many children actually made unexpected gains, and the program was proclaimed a success.
In 1904, Maria was appointed as a professor of anthropology at the University of Rome. However, her strong desire to help children soon led her to give up both her university chair and medical practice to work with a group of sixty young children of working parents in the San Lorenzo district of Rome. These studies led her to observe and question the fundamental methods of teaching children with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
In 1907, Maria opened Casa dei Bambini, or Children’s House, a quality learning environment for young children in a poor inner-city district. While miss-behaved at first, the children soon showed interest in working with puzzles, learning to prepare meals, and manipulating materials, which demonstrated a great ability to absorb knowledge from their surroundings.
Through scientific observation and experience, Maria designed a new learning method and environment that nurtured the child’s natural desire to learn. Children teach themselves. This fundamental principle inspired Montessori’s journey of educational reform, methodology, and teaching.
In 1913, Maria journeyed to the United States, the same year that Alexander Graham Bell and his wife founded the Montessori Educational Association in Washington, D.C. Other American supporters included Thomas Edison and Helen Keller.
Although Maria Montessori pursued her principles during war and very turbulent political times, she lectured widely, wrote articles and books, founded the Montessori Training Centre in Laren, Netherlands in 1938, and established teacher training courses in the Montessori Method in India in 1939.
One of Maria’s greatest achievements was being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times – in 1929, 1950, and 1951.
Although she passed in 1952 in Noordwijk, Holland, her work continues on through the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI), an organization she founded in Amsterdam, Netherlands in 1929 to further her research.
“An education capable of saving humanity is no small undertaking: it involves the spiritual development of man, the enhancement of his value as an individual, and the preparation of young people to times in which they live.”
– Maria Montessori, Education and Peace
Last month, Little Flower Montessori School explained a few reasons as to why you should choose Montessori education over Traditional Kindergarten. One reason is that moving your child to a completely different educational system can often be a big change a child and requires making adjustments to the new environment. Furthermore, Montessori education features different learning techniques and methods than public school kindergartens. Traditional kindergartens tends to focus on rote drill and memorization, while Montessori students learn through a more hands-on, investigative approach. In addition, Montessori schools allow the child to continue progressing at their own pace, whereas a child in traditional kindergarten will have to wait for the other children begin to catch up.
An additional benefit of continuing in the Montessori program is that the five-year-olds in a Montessori classroom often help the younger children by teaching lessons or correcting errors. Research shows that someone who teaches a skill or new concept to someone often leads the teacher to learn just as much, if not more, than the student. This can also be applied to a child who instructs another. Through this, a five-year-old gains real experience for running their classroom community. This sense of autonomy and the development of independence is not as prominent in traditional schools.
Another benefit to choosing Montessori education over traditional kindergarten is that the end goals of early childhood education are different. Montessori schools emphasize fostering a child’s natural curiosity for learning, allowing the child to realize their fullest potential. Children have the ability to choose their own work, with some input from the teacher; while, traditional education creates a curriculum that is structured for large groups.
Furthermore, in Montessori, there is no check list or end point to a child’s learning. For example, if a child is completely engulfed in understanding butterflies, they can continue to learn about butterflies. Or, if they are very interested in fractions at age 4, they can earn about fractions at age 4. Not every child is at the same pace. This methodology demonstrates that a child’s enthusiasm for learning comes intrinsically. This form of self-teaching allows the child to discover their own concepts and really teaches the child how to learn so that they learn to really enjoy the learning process.
As you can see, there a many reasons for a parent to choose Montessori education over traditional kindergarten. In addition to it being one of the most crucial years in a Montessori program, your child has been waiting for years to be one of the five-year-older leaders of their class. Enroll your child at Little Flower Montessori today!
Often times, parents must make the major decision in their child’s life on whether to keep them in Montessori for kindergarten or to send them off to public school. While there may be several reasons that a parent might choose a local school over Montessori, such as financial reasons (free vs. a tuition), it’s important to weigh the decision carefully, and determine which school closely fits with your own educational and developmental goals for your child.
Little Flower Montessori would like to provide you reasons on why you should continue your child in Montessori for kindergarten.
One reason that you should keep your child in Montessori is because moving to a completely different educational system can be a big change. For the first few months, your child will need to make major adjustments to the new class, teacher, and a whole new system of different expectations. Furthermore, many kindergarten classrooms have a much lower set of expectations for five-year-olds than most Montessori programs, thus, decreasing the learning opportunities for your child during the most crucial years of their lives.
Also, by the age of five, most Montessori children will have a higher academic understanding than their American kindergarten school counterparts, as many have already began to read and will have been introduced to multiplication and division. Montessori students already have a high understanding of the decimal system, mathematical operations, and other similar information. Most of this information becomes reinforced, internalized and permanent as they grow holder. However, if they leave Montessori before these experiences become solidified, this early learning will quickly diminish.
In addition, children who transfer to a Traditional school must get accustomed to learning at the instructional pace that is usually set by the group norm rather than setting their own learning pace as the teacher assists, such as is the case in a Montessori program. A key concept in Montessori education is the child’s interest and readiness to advance in learning. If they child isn’t developmentally ready to move forward, she isn’t left behind or made to feel like a disappointment.
The second, and most important, reason to keep your child in Montessori for kindergarten is in the differences in teaching and learning techniques. The Montessori approach is based on several decades of research on children’s cognitive, neurological and emotional development. It has also been acclaimed as the most developmentally appropriate model currently available by some of America’s top experts on early childhood and elementary education.
Montessori is focused on teaching for understanding, while Traditional schools tend to focus on rote drill and memorization. In public schools, children do exercises and workbooks without any real comprehension. While it may seem like they have learned the material, in many cases, most of what they have “learned” won’t be retained in the future, nor will they be able to use those skills and knowledge in new situations. Research has found that simply memorizing correct answers doesn’t necessarily constitute as deep learning.
In a Montessori school, students learn through hands on experience, investigation, and research and are actively engaged in their studies. In the classroom, three and four-year-olds learn in a sensorial prepared environment. This type of setting provides experiences that allow a child to garner mental pictures of abstract concepts, such as mathematical operations, and it will provide a basis for lifetime comprehension.
Every year, a Montessori parent must make the decision on whether to keep their five-year-old in a Montessori program to transfer them to a Traditional public school. While public schools are less costly, Little Flower Montessori provides an enhanced and optimal learning structure that creates and abounds your child’s natural curiosity to learn.
Be on the lookout for our next blog post as we discuss even more reasons why you should continue Montessori education for your five-year-old.
At Little Flower Montessori School, our main goal is to provide an environment that fosters children’s independence. We do this by providing opportunities for a child to do things for themselves, such as dressing themselves, pouring water, choosing what they want to do, preparing a snack, and cleaning their work space, all through a prepared environment. Materials and activities that encourage the child to “do for him/herself” and nurtures developmental progress, confidence, and self-esteem are the foundations of the Practical Life curriculum.
As Maria Montessori said, “Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.”
We practice freedom and discipline everyday by allowing children to have the freedom of choice – the freedom to choose their activities for themselves; and time – to freely work with an activity for as long as they choose.
This freedom leads to discipline. The traditional approach to education believes that children are impulsive, disorderly, and must be disciplined externally through rewards and punishment. But unfortunately, the issues remain the same. However, Montessori education helps to develop the child’s character through their ability to make choices by listening to his or her interests. As natural limits exist, the child is able to practice the inhibition of those impulses. For example, in a prepared environment, there are only one set of materials, such as one easel for painting. Thus, only one child can paint at a time, and the activity is only complete when everything has been put back in its place and is ready for the next person to use.
Parents can encourage their child at home to participate in ways that help to induce self-discipline, confidence, and independence. Here are some helpful suggestions to incorporate Practical Life activities at home:
In order for a child to have freedom, they must have self-discipline. Self-discipline is something that must be taught, modeled and practiced. Thus, in order for a child to be independent, they must engage in continued concentrated activities of their own choice, so that they can grow in inner discipline. This “normalization” is the most important goal of the Montessori philosophy.
“The child has to acquire physical independence by being self-sufficient; he must become of independent will by using in freedom his own power of choice; he must become capable of independent thought by working alone without interruption.”
-Dr. Maria Montessori
Daily Montessori. (2014). “Montessori Theory.” Retrieved from: http://www.dailymontessori.com/montessori-theory/.
Michelle Irinyi (2009). North American Montessori Center Montessori Teacher Training (blog). “Parenting for Independence the Montessori Way: Fostering Self Discipline and Confidence.” Retrieved from: http://montessoritraining.blogspot.com/2009/06/parenting-for-independence-montessori.html#.U-pPY_ldWSo .
Absorbent Minds Montessori (n.d). “What is Montessori.” Retrieved from: http://www.absorbentminds.co.uk/acatalog/What_is_Montessori_.html
The Association Montessori International/USA is a national non-profit organization that strives to propagate and further the teachings and work of Dr. Maria Montessori in the United States. Click here for more info.
“Great school! Children learn at their own, individual pace and according to their own choice of activities from hundreds of possibilities! leading to concentration, motivation, self discipline, and a love of learning!”
-Submitted by a parent–