Play + Learn | Montessori

by , posted on December 5th, 2012 in Play + Learn




Today, I’m thrilled to introduce you to a new contributor. Lindsay Dewald is an educator, writer, organizer and is expecting her first child early next year. It’s been so long since my two were babies that I’ve nearly forgotten what it was like. (I know, how does that happen?) So I’m excited to have her here writing about the younger set. Today she’s introducing us to the Montessori method.

With the holiday’s just around the corner, a new year is also fast approaching, which, for a lot of parents means time to start thinking about schooling and education for your kids come fall. Some of you have a child entering the world of school for the first time and some have grown comfortable with the system your child may be in. There are so many ways to educate our children and I don’t believe one way is better than the other IF it is working for your child.

Montessori education is a philosophy that may work wonderfully for your child or not so much. As much as I adore the method, I know not every child is a good fit for the Montessori method. With that said, I wanted to introduce the philosophy in a way that’s understandable. Montessori is such a hard topic to understand from reading only and I always say to truly understand the way a Montessori community works, you must see it in action. I’ll do my best to introduce it to those of you who may be totally unfamiliar but interested nonetheless.

The method in general is about creating peaceful independence at a young age where children are responsible for their own learning. When in an environment that is set up purposefully, it just works. The approach is totally child led so you will never see a set curriculum, exactly the same for each child. Of course Montessori educators want to see specific goals being met from their students, but we are aware that not every child learns in the same way or at the same pace.

A lot of people think that if their child is responsible for his or her own learning they won’t learn anything, but once a child steps into a Montessori environment that has been purposefully set up, the independent learning and eagerness comes. Children want to work when they feel empowered to make decisions about their own learning. In a typical Montessori day, the children are exposed to, and are allowed, the choices of choosing “work” from a range of classroom areas including math, language, practical life, sensorial, geography, art and science.

If a child wants to work on practical life materials all morning long (such as sweeping, weaving, tweezing, etc), so be it. Odds are they are working to master a particular skill and will want to choose something entirely different the next week. The children in a Montessori environment are responsible for cleaning their materials up and putting them away the way they found them when they are finished. The kids are exposed to real life situations and are responsible for taking care of their environment. This is why in most cases Montessori kids are so dang good at cleaning up their messes, pouring their own juice, wiping up spills, and sweeping up crumbs. These everyday tasks are an important part of their learning.

A Montessori teacher’s job is to make sure each child is being exposed to all the area’s of the classroom and is consistently progressing in his or her learning by careful observation and guidance. This Video is one of my favorite things to show people new to Montessori.

I’d love to start a conversation here about Montessori Education or education in general. What are your thoughts or questions?


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Comments

11 Responses to “Play + Learn | Montessori”

  1. Lacy Says:

    December 5th, 2012 at 11:18 am

    Excited to see more of Lindsay on Classic Play! :)

  2. Lindsay Says:

    December 5th, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    Thanks, Lacy! Excited to be here!

  3. Nikki Says:

    December 5th, 2012 at 7:46 pm

    I’d love to hear more about your statement that “I know not every child is a good fit for the Montessori method”. It’s something I’ve heard others say as well, and I’d like to understand better which kids are not a good fit and why you (or they) say that.

  4. Lindsay Says:

    December 5th, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    Thanks for the question, Nikki! When I say, not every child is a good fit for the Montessori method, I do not at all mean it in a way that would suggest those particular children have something they need to work on to become better fits for this type of learning. I believe children learn in a ton of different ways. Some seem to strive in a more teacher led environment (although I don’t know how effective this type of learning is long term) and others seem to strive in a more student led environment (like Montessori.) For the younger set (3- 6 year olds, the age I teach) the self discipline and independence that are such focal points in Montessori are still developing and are things that can be “taught” to a degree. Most kids this age WANT to learn and want to feel independent. This is why Montessori is such a success for the preschool / kindergarten aged child. I think it’s important to evaluate how a child is progressing as they get older (6 + ) to make sure the Montessori environment is giving them all they need to be successful learners.

    With all of that said, I think it’s important to look at when and how children excel in their learning and find an educational philosophy that supports their strengths as learners.

    Does that make sense?

  5. Deborah Says:

    December 5th, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    This is great. Humiliating enough, for the first few years of parenting I thought Montessori was a religious school. So glad I cleared that one up! :)

  6. Sandra Says:

    December 6th, 2012 at 12:28 am

    Lindsay, I love your focus on the different learning styles of kids. You are so right – what works for this one may not work for the next one. And that’s before taking into account any learning challenges!

    I feel very lucky that my grade 2 daughter is in a school with small classes (4 classes of 20 kids in her grade) and the resources to adapt to a variety of learning styles. My daughter is a kinesthetic learner and would be absolutely miserable if she had to sit in a desk doing worksheets all day long.

    Jennifer Cooper Reply:

    Sandra, my son is a kinesthetic learner too. Sitting at a desk all day doing worksheets is hard for him. I hate to see it. There is so much emphasis on writing/worksheets at such an early age (before he was ready for it really) Sigh…

    So I try to supplement at home best I can with lots of hands on activities.

    But I suppose that’s a different topic altogether. I’m veering on a tanget now.

    Sandra Reply:

    I think I initiated said tangent!

    The girl’s school is great with this – as an example, when she is learning math she’ll be in a circle of kids and they’ll be tossing beanbags back and forth while working on something.

    Lindsay Reply:

    This is exact topic is a major reason I love Montessori. Everything is so tangible. Instead of adding numbers from a worksheet, the kids are adding actual, physical things together to see results. Using your senses in Montessori is huge even when learning math or language concepts. I love the conversation we’ve started here.

  7. Christina Jordan Says:

    December 10th, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    As a mum of a 5 year old, I’ve spent some frustrating time trying to analyze different curriculums and educational philosophies. Sadly, I can’t add much in terms of real understanding…..everyone speaks in such generalities….”to promote independent learning”…..okay…everyone says that, however, one of the things that I love about Montessori is the children. The children seem really calm, happy, centered, sure of themselves, they speak with adults without mumbling and being nervous generally. I love Montessori kids, so my girl remains in Montessori! And it goes without saying how wonderful I think she is!

    Lindsay Reply:

    Christina,
    I’m glad you have such a wonderful opinion of Montessori children- I do agree! I think when people use the phrase “to promote independent learning” they are referring to child led philosophies like Montessori where students are more or less responsible for their own learning. No structured lectures, forced group lessons and activities, tests, etc. independent learning caters to the majority of children because all children learn differently and at their own pace which is celebrated in Montessori and other “independent learning” methods.


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