When you hear the word ‘Montessori’, what comes to mind? Perhaps you have heard that Montessori is only for gifted children, or that it is all play and no work. Or that it is too structured, or not structured enough.
Well, ‘Montessori’ is a term that has most probably crossed the paths of parents who are searching for the best education for their child. However, familiar as it is, it may still be a little bit confusing for those who do not have any personal experience with the educational philosophy.
One reason for this confusion is that Montessori is so different from the traditional schools that most of us are used to. From the classroom setup, the materials, the way the teachers teach; it might all seem odd and new, but we hope that through this article, we can debunk some common myths while helping you see the value in this educational philosophy.
Myth #1: Montessori = All play and no work?
In the Montessori classroom, children are always involved in purposeful play. The wide variety of materials available are all developed, displayed, and used with a special purpose behind each of them. (Note how I used ‘materials’ instead of ‘toys’! These special learning tools are meant to facilitate the child’s exploration and discovery of the world around them instead of just providing simple amusement.)
As Maria Montessori quoted, “Play is the work of the child.” These materials and activities that you might see your child engaging in most of the time in a Montessori classroom might give off the impression that your child is just playing all day. However, they each present a unique and concrete learning opportunity by helping the child develop various skillsets while allowing them to find meaningful enjoyment!
Myth #2: Montessori teachers don’t teach.
In the Montessori classroom, Montessori teachers are rarely the center of attention. However, this doesn’t mean that they don’t teach at all or are lazing around. More than just simply following a daily lesson plan, Montessori teachers do more by observing the inner development of the child and prepares and presents developmentally appropriate materials that are meant to spark and ignite the child’s imagination. Furthermore, relationships affects learning. The Montessori teacher focuses on building nurturing and inspiring relationships with the children in order to instill a love for learning in them. The Montessori educational philosophy is also child-centered, which allows the teachers to play the important role of facilitating and guiding children in their own self-directed learning. Montessori teachers also play a big role in the preparation of the learning environment. A Montessori teacher creates a safe environment for the children to be independent- to freely explore and satisfy their learning curiosities. Through organizing the materials in a way that is enticing and accessible, and documenting the children’s progress, the teachers must be adaptable in constantly updating the materials in order to meet the ever-evolving needs of each child.
Myth #3: Montessori children will not be able to transition to traditional schools well.
From the earliest ages, the Montessori educational philosophy focuses on helping children develop a strong sense of respect and responsibility, coping skills for dealing with new situations, and being self-sufficient. In addition, Montessori children are taught how to learn; as they are accustomed to encountering new and challenging concepts, they know how to find information on their own if they need it. Though the environment is different, the skills of exploring, researching independently are extremely transferable and thus useful in ensuring a child’s successful transition to a new school environment.
Click here to see one of our very own success stories.
Myth #4: Children in Montessori classrooms do whatever they want.
Yes, it is true that children in a Montessori classroom have the freedom to choose which materials or activities they want to work with. However, to someone unfamiliar with the Montessori educational philosophy, freedom may appear to allow a child to do anything he or she would like. In a Montessori classroom, which is a result of careful preparation, observation, and trial and error, children are granted freedom within limits. This provides a comfortable balance between an overly structured environment and a chaotic one. Freedom within limits also means setting clear expectations and ground rules ahead of time and following through. ‘Respect’ is the hallmark of the Montessori Method. Montessori teachers establish simple ground rules based on respect that allow children to work harmoniously in the classroom. By providing age-appropriate choices and opportunities for independence and self-sufficiency would help develop secure relationships between the child and adults.
All in all, I hope this article has helped you in understanding a little bit more about the value of the Montessori educational philosophy.
Our MMI Preschool centres will also be having an Open house on 17 July 2021 and 21 July 2021. Come and visit to find out more about what we do!
Stay tuned for our next workshop “Understanding Montessori Philosophy: Debunking Myths“. We look forward to seeing you there!