Monday, May 18, 2009

Why Montessori?

I had a friend ask me the other day why we were choosing to use Montessori with M, especially when we didn’t use it with J. The simple answer is that we didn’t do it with J because we were not familiar with it. This is one of those instances when you learn about something and wish you had known about it earlier. Of course, Montessori methods do extend through high school, and we are researching what aspects we will be incorporating with J. It is easier to start with M, however, since we can start from the beginning with her.

We feel strongly that the best place for M to learn is at home with us, and that is why we are using Montessori methods at home rather in a center. We are by no means experts, and there are certain parts of Montessori we are not implementing as they just don’t fit with our current philosophy, space or budget. With that said, there are several reasons we chose Montessori as our main learning method.

1) The whole basis of Montessori is child-led learning. We find that both the public and private school systems focus too much on making children conform to their list of approved “standards” and do not allow children enough time for creativity, imagination and exploring their own interests. One of the keys of Montessori is that once the teacher introduces an activity, you sit back and let the child explore and learn on their own. This means that rather than learning there is only one right answer (the answer the teacher wants) children learn there are many ways to do something.

2) Montessori focuses on learning through the use of all your senses, literally “hands-on” learning. Our experience with J’s dyslexia has proven to us that kids learn in so many different ways, and the typical auditory and visual learning does not work for everyone. These multi-sensory approaches that Montessori uses are the same as those J is utilizing in his MTA reading learning program. We have seen how well these work, so this was a key for us.

3) Montessori uses both phonics and whole language to teach children. We know that the educational system alternates between which is currently in vogue, but we think both are key to a child developing a strong vocabulary and a firm foundation for literacy.

4) In Montessori children learn to be masters of their own environment, to focus on maintaining their surroundings, respecting the objects around them, and learning to put everything in its proper place. Enough said!

Those are the main reasons we are choosing Montessori methods with M. The fact that she loves doing them and is learning so quickly just reinforces that we have made the right choice.
There are so many wonderful blogs out there with Montessori ideas posted by trained teachers who have a much better grasp of what they are doing than I do! There are also 3 wonderful books we recommend reading: Basic Montessori: Learning Activities for Under-Fives by David Gettman; Teaching Montessori in the Home: The Preschool Years by Elizabeth Hainstock; Montessori Play & Learn by Lesley Britton.

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