Written for MyCity4Kids
Zoe (2.5) has just started going to school and from the time I started my research on various methods adopted by different schools, the Montessori way of education attracted me the most. Why did I pick a school which doesn't believe in teaching my daughter alphabets but phonics... which does not believe in having tables and chairs but has floor mats.... where my child will do many things that a regular school wouldn't allow kids to do.
I visited my daughter's school couple of times before her admission, but I went as an observer once and that's the time when I was sure this is what I wanted for Zoe. Couple of things which I loved about the setup:
Disciplined and Peaceful environment: When you enter a Montessori school and a class is going on, you will be impressed by the kids sitting there and working peacefully. They are so disciplined and know exactly what they want, if they need help they will politely go up to a teacher. I have not noticed any kind of shouting, shrieking or unnecessary running around. Though kids are so disciplined, still there is no dearth of activity and the class is always buzzing with it.
Mixed-Age Classroom: As parents, we accompany the child to their classes when the kids join school. Zoe's 1st day left me even more impressed with the system. A 5 year old was told to help Zoe as she takes long to get comfortable with an adult. Seeing Zoe work and talk with an older child peacefully made me a happy mum.
Independence & Responsibility: Teachers and staff work more as an observer in a Montessori setup. They step in only when the kids need them. Seeing a 3 year old pour water from a small pitcher to a glass, making puzzles without help and do so many things on their own was amazing. After seeing this I was sure I want a Montessori school for Zoe. Since kids become independent at a younger age, they also become responsible. They believe in doing things on their own. They believe in finishing the task at hand.
Curious kids: A Montessori environment encourages kids to be curious, kids are introduced to many equipments and environment is such that they get exposed to many age appropriate things. This help rise their curiosity where kids are also encouraged to find their own answers
Children are not confined at one place: Kids sit on mats, they aren't restricted to their desks. When I researched why floor mats? Here is what I got "Children’s working on the floor on small rugs is a practice born out of Montessori’s astute observation of children. Her medical and anthropological background came together in establishing this practice. As a scientist she realized that children needed an environment where they could freely express themselves in spontaneous activity. It is a well recognized fact today that children need to move and change positions. Yet, as children grow, their need for movement varies. The baby, with 68% of her height in her trunk, will naturally lie on her back with feet and hands up in the air. The child of 2.5, as she enters our Children’s Houses, has longer legs in proportion to the trunk; the trunk then is only 62%. These children are at the point of developing a perfect equilibrium. We can see them often lying on their stomachs with the legs bent at the knees and feet up in the air. The leg muscles are stretched in this position. Children between 2.5 and 5.5 years old often seek a resting position on the floor and raise their head and shoulders by supporting them with their elbows."
Teachers are not 'authority figures': You will hardly find them scolding your child. They might be stern if need be, but the teachers are trained in such a manner they understand children beautifully.
No grade/rank system: The system keeps a track on how kids advance without any tests, stars or rating system. The kids do not compete with each other but the progress is seen basis the kid's own ability
Check this video out to know more
A tip: Go and observe a Montessori school and you will know for yourself what I'm talking about.