Deciding where your children will receive their education is one of the most important decisions you will make as a parent. As the school choice movement continues to gain momentum, parents have more options today than in years past. One of those options — a Montessori approach to education — is growing in popularity across the country. Yet, there are also many myths associated with Montessori schools. Let’s consider six of the most persistent Montessori myths — and the truth behind the misconceptions.
Montessori Myth 1: Montessori classrooms have no structure
Montessori education is a child-centered approach to learning where independence and freedom within limits are emphasized. A casual observer who is accustomed to traditional schools might initially view a Montessori classroom as unstructured, but that’s simply not the case. Montessori classrooms are thoughtfully prepared with developmentally appropriate learning materials. The belief is that when children are given the flexibility and independence to explore what interests them, they are more motivated to learn. Thus, teachers act as guides in the classroom; they observe, help students delve deeper into topics that interest them, provide assistance when needed, and redirect when necessary. So, while children do move freely about in a Montessori classroom, it is not without purpose or structure.
Montessori Myth 2: The Montessori curriculum is not academic
Actually, children who receive a Montessori education often reach higher academic levels than their counterparts who attend traditional schools. The Montessori approach respects that children can grasp complex subject matter when introduced in a concrete way. Additionally, Montessori students are studying areas that they find personally interesting; thus, they are more motivated to achieve and often progress more rapidly than students in traditional schools.
Montessori Myth 3: Montessori schools are only effective for one type of learner
In fact, Montessori schools are effective for many different types of learners. The instruction in Montessori schools is designed to reach all types of learners, including visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners. Moreover, when working with small groups, Montessori teachers are able to determine the unique strengths and weaknesses of each learner.
Montessori Myth 4: Having older classmates is intimidating for younger children
Traditional schools typically place students in classrooms with same-age peers. The Montessori approach, on the other hand, places children in multi-age classrooms. There a number of benefits to multi-age classrooms. Older students are often role models for their younger classmates. Both the older and younger students learn through peer teaching and working with mixed-age groups. Because competition is minimized in multi-age classrooms, students feel comfortable sharing their knowledge and experience with their classmates.
Montessori Myth 5: The Montessori method is outdated
It’s been over a century since Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori introduced her educational approach that aimed to foster students’ natural inclination to learn. So, doesn’t that mean it’s old-fashioned and outdated? The truth is, you can’t put an expiration date on an educational method that has been executed successfully across the world for over a hundred years. The Montessori method is far from outdated; in fact, there are currently over four thousand Montessori schools operating in the United States– a number that continues to grow. After all, allowing children’s natural curiosity to transform them into self-motivated learners is a timeless approach to education.
Montessori Myth 6: All Montessori schools are the same
If you’ve seen one Montessori school you’ve seen them all, right? Wrong! Just like traditional schools, no two Montessori schools are exactly alike. The Montessori approach is based on a philosophy of education and is neither franchised nor licensed. Some Montessori schools are private; others are public or charter schools. Some strictly follow the original Montessori model; others slightly vary their interpretations. The bottom line: although all Montessori schools likely have some common characteristics, they also have unique features that make them distinct.
If you are considering a Montessori education for your child or simply would like to learn more about this child-centered approach to education, please contact us today.