Montessori: An Educational Choice

Montessori:  An Educational Choice

By Elizabeth S. Wisecup

As our world has become more unpredictable and we are faced with greater challenges, it is essential to make the best educational choices for our children. Dr. Maria Montessori said, “The education of even a small child does not aim at preparing him for school, but for life.”  Academics, competition and achievement define the educational systems of today; the Montessori educational method recognizes that in addition to academic success, the responsibility of teaching our children compassion, tolerance, patience, forgiveness and respect are equally important. The totality of these qualities is essential in building the educational, emotional and social foundations for a child.

Through extensive training, observations and research, Dr. Montessori focussed on an educational model for developing the ‘whole child.’ “I have studied the child. I have taken what the child has given me and expressed it and that is what is called the Montessori Method,” Dr. M. Montessori stated. The Montessori Method provides an enriched academic curriculum and gives children essential tools for life. In the Montessori classroom, a prepared environment is key to facilitating children’s academic success and the learning of life skills. Dr. Montessori imparted how “there is a great sense of community within the Montessori classroom, where children of differing ages work together in an atmosphere of cooperation rather than competiveness. There is respect for the environment and for the individual within it, which comes through experience of freedom with the community.”

Unique characteristics define the Montessori educational method. Trained and certified Montessori teachers, multi-age classrooms, specific Montessori learning materials, lessons that enable children to progress from the concrete to the abstract, emphasis on independence and the philosophy that “freedom within limits is a wonderful path to learning” define a Montessori education. Life skills, social skills and grace and courtesy are practiced daily.  Everyone is taught to be respectful, courteous, compassionate and considerate. Children naturally love to learn and the Montessori classroom is a place where each child is honored for their unique style of learning and their specific interests. In a peaceful, respectful and enriched hands-on environment, students can flourish academically, emotionally and socially. According to Dr. Montessori, “If education recognizes the intrinsic value of the child’s personality and provides an environment suited to spiritual growth, we have the revelation of an entirely new child whose astonishing characteristics can eventually contribute to the betterment of the world.”