Montessori schools are a popular choice among the various educational methods available today. Parents choose Montessori schools for a variety reasons. But, no doubt, most who choose this educational method are doing so with the best interests of their child in mind. Montessori methods have been around since the early 1900s. However, this is one instance when older methods continue to be revolutionary and effective.
The History of Montessori Schools
Maria Montessori, the first female medical doctor in Italy, came up with this popular educational method, later named after her. (http://www.amshq.org/montessori_history.htm) Interested in the psychiatric field, she first worked with mentally challenged children. Her educational methods allowed these children (thought to be a lost cause) to pass the same standardized state tests given to the “normal” schoolchildren. Her philosophy was to cater to each child’s individual needs, educating and nurturing the “whole child.”
Eventually, Maria Montessori moved on to working with “normal” children after being assigned to work in a children’s house. She applied her methods and curriculum with these children and, as before, saw great results from her efforts. Part of her approach includes looking at the child’s mind like a sponge that absorbs information. One way to get that sponge to soak up that information is by utilizing hands-on activities. The hands-on approach is a big part of learning in Montessori schools. The AMI (American Montessori Institute) was founded by Maria Montessori in 1929.
Montessori Schools Today
Today’s Montessori schools are still run with the ideals of Maria Montessori in mind. In fact, many educators, professionals and parents look at Dr. Montessori as being ahead of her time. This is because her educational methods still are effective today. Montessori schools have become immensely popular, often creating waiting lists. The Montessori methods have become a widely pursued educational path, especially popular among preschool classrooms, as well as multi-age classrooms.
Parents must be aware that to be one of the true Montessori schools, certification is required. Be observant and learn where that certification came from, as not all Montessori schools follow the methods exactly the same.(http://www.privateschoolreview.com/articles/129) It is important to study the original Montessori methods and observe each of the Montessori schools before choosing one. NAMTA (North American Montessori Teachers’ Association) makes it easy for parents to find Montessori schools in their area.
Montessori Compared to Public and Private Schools
The main difference between Montessori education and public or private education is the philosophy of individuality. In public and private schools, education is standardized and the entire class is generally taught in the exact same way. Montessori schools often are considered private schools. However, they differ in that the Montessori curriculum is taught, rather than a standardized curricula. Montessori methods have also been used in homeschools.
In Montessori schools, learning is based on the five senses (touch, taste, sight, sound and smell). In traditional public and private education, more emphasis is generally on listening, observing and reading. Most Montessori schools follow a mixed-age model, grouping kids in certain age brackets. In most public and private schools, children are instead grouped with those of the same age and grade level. NAMTA is a good place to start for information regarding Montessori education.