Could your child benefit from the Montessori Curriculum?
With the overall decline of public schools in America and recent research showing the importance of early childhood education, the Montessori approach is growing in popularity. To a parent, like myself, who had a traditional preschool experience Montessori can be confusing and misunderstood. Leaving many to wonder what exactly is the Montessori curriculum?
Well lucky for you, before becoming a mother, I was a Montessori teacher.
In fact, during my pregnancy with Savannah I taught full-time at a highly sought after Montessori school in our area. It was extremely diverse and had been around for 30 years.
Not only that, many parents pridefully referred to it as “Baby Harvard” because their children were grade levels ahead of their public school peers.
While it is still considered preschool, there are many subtle and overt differences between traditional preschool and the Montessori approach.
In this article I’m going to give an overview that will help you decide if Montessori is a good fit for your child.
Montessori Curriculum: An Overview
If you walked into a Montessori classroom one of the first things you would probably notice is the lack of busyness. Montessori classrooms are carefully curated to support the ultimate goal of: child-led learning.
The 5 Main Subject Areas
The open shelves which house the “materials” not to be confused with “toys” are organized in a very specific way. Each shelf represents 5 main subject areas of learning, these include:
- Practical Life
- Science & Culture
- Language Arts
Practical Life: is all about mastering every day scenarios. Materials on this shelf may include: zipper and shoe tying boards, keys and locks and cups to practice pouring, to name a few.
In my classroom I brought in old cosmetic jars and lids for the students to screw on and off.
Science and Culture: shelves typically have a combination of Botany, Geography, History, Zoology and Art. A popular choice on this shelf in my former room was identifying parts of a plastic flower with word labels.
Math: is very visual in the Montessori setting. Counting things like beads, spindles and cubes allow the children to get a hands on experience with addition and subtraction.
Sensorial: engages all the child’s senses, to sort and make conclusions.
The Wooden Shakers were a class favorite on our Sensorial shelf. Wooden spheres were filled with different things like sand, marbles and rice. Then after shaking one the child made a guess about what was inside.
Language: This is the foundation of reading and writing. The students loved word labels. They matched the labels with pictures, letters and sounds.
Mixed Ages in One Group
There is no birthday cut-off date.
In any given classroom there is usually a good mixture of ages. This highly individualized aspect of the curriculum is something that appeals to a lot of parents. In my class, there were children as young as 2 years 9 months and as old as 4 years.
So their promotion to the next class depended solely on their personal mastery of skills and development.
The Montessori Curriculum May Not Be For Your Child If:
While the approach is child led learning, Montessori follows a relatively predictable schedule.
Working with the materials requires the child to carefully make a choice from one of the shelves and work independently.
I had the pleasure of teaching kids of all personality types so there is no cookie cutter “Montessori child”.
However, Montessori may not be a good fit if your child doesn’t like structure and rules. To learn even more I recommend the book, The Montessori Toddler.
Cieara is a wife and mom of two, passionate about empowering parents to not just survive but thrive. She offers practical and expert advice on topics related to parenthood.