Typical care times: 9am – 12:30pm, with afternoon or evening care Ages: 3-5 years old, preferably potty trained Philosophy: “Play is a child’s work”
If you’re starting to look for a preschool, you have undoubtedly come across the highly popular Montessori program, but what exactly is it? The Montessori method of teaching was developed in the early part of the 20th century by Maria Montessori of Rome who developed a method of teaching that places a great deal of emphasis on individual-based creative, hands-on learning and student independence, all while allowing the students to be academically stimulated.
In a Montessori program, kids ranging in age from 3-5 all share the same room, with the older kids acting as role models for their younger peers. The students will typically have the same teacher (or “guide” as they are frequently known in Montessori schools) for several years which allows students to develop a closer relationship with their instructor.
Why do parents choose Montessori?
There are many reasons parents might choose Montessori, including:
- Children develop independence, leadership skills, and self-esteem
- Learning happens naturally and at the child’s own pace
- Teachers act as guides for the children, as opposed to strict authority figures
- Children can work in small groups
- Special needs children tend to do well in a Montessori setting because they receive special, individually-tailored attention
- Students are able to study materials in a way that works with their individual style of learning. For instance, a student may be asked if he is ready for a particular task or lesson at hand. Children can also choose what kind of work they would like to do.
- Montessori is a great method for establishing independence and well-roundedness.
The Teacher’s Role
As mentioned earlier, the teacher is not so much a strict authority figure in a Montessori school as a guide for the child’s learning and understanding. Teachers allow children to make their own choices and encourage them to be responsible and independent by preparing their own snacks, pouring themselves milk, and looking after their belongings.
Academics in Montessori
In a Montessori classroom, a strong emphasis is put on the academics. If your child is in a Montessori program you can expect them to:
- Learn at their own pace:In the classroom, toys and learning materials are arranged such so that a child can see all the possible options and select a task according to his interests. As a result, each child learns at his own pace.
- Develop independence: Aside from cultivating creative problem-solving skills, a child in a Montessori program will also develop skills to help them practically and academically. Students learn how to look after themselves by having to go through routine activities such as cleaning up, putting on their own coats, and going to the bathroom without assistance.
- Gain sensory awareness: Instead of simply intellectually knowing something, a child in a Montessori program will also feel, smell, taste, hear, or touch what they are learning about.
- Develop language abilities: Children will learn how to express their thoughts and feelings with their words, and are given the tools to understand written language and grammar through activities which teach them to recognize letters.
- Understand math concepts: Mathematics and geometry are also taught with the hands-on method. Rather than memorizing numbers, a student may be given tangible objects or manipulatives that represent different numerical values.
- Appreciate cultures: Finally, students are also taught to understand and appreciate different elements of culture and aspects of other places, such as studying places where different animals live, or cultural subjects such as the science, art, music, and history.
If you are in the Washington DC area and are looking for a great program that exemplifies all of the best qualities of a Montessori school, then check out The Boyd School of Reston. This school has a beautiful learning environment with plenty of open space for the students to learn and play in. Lead teachers have over 10 years of experience and provide children with an exciting, hands-on learning environment. The Boyd School is one of only a few schools in the DC metro area that have undertaken getting an AMS accreditation (American Montessori Society). Learn more here.
Do you know of other terrific Montessori programs? Tell us!