Dr. Maria Montessori developed the Montessori method more than a century ago, based on belief that a child is "naturally eager for knowledge and capable of initiating learning in a supportive, thoughtfully prepared learning environment," according to the American Montesssori Society. The hallmarks of Montessori schools include multiage class groupings, blocks of uninterrupted learning time, called work time, and the freedom for children to choose their work activities. If you’re considering sending your child to a Montessori school for kindergarten, understanding the benefits of this type of education is key to making an informed decision and supporting her scholastic success.
The Montessori Method promotes each child’s individuality, recognizing that different students learn at different paces and in different ways, according to the The American Montessori Society. Instead of dictating when your child meets specific education milestones in kindergarten, the Montessori Method will allow your child to gain knowledge at his own pace. Additionally, the acceptance of multiple learning styles means that a Montessori kindergarten teacher will use the techniques that best meet his personality and abilities. This is important for some parents because not all children share the same learning style. Some children are more auditory learners, others more visual learners and still others are more kinesthetic learners, according to the University of Illinois Extension. Allowing a child to learn in his preferred manner can make the most of his beginning grade school time.
Helping and Getting Help
Unlike a traditional kindergarten class, which is largely populated by 5- and possibly 6-year-olds – the Montessori kindergarten has multiage rooms. These include 3- to 6-year-old preschool to kindergarten classrooms and 6- to either 9- or 12-year-old elementary groupings. The multiage classroom allows more advanced students to help less sophisticated learners, according to the educational experts at the University of Maryland's Center for Young Children. While this may seem to only benefit the younger students, the more advanced student learns and develops cognitive skills through the act of teaching. The multiage classroom can also help the kindergarten student, who is still socially maturing, to better understand how to work with others in a community type of environment.
The Teacher’s Role
While students in the Montessori classroom, teach each other, the teacher still acts as the primary educator, but she is more of a guide, according to the American Montessori Society. The students don’t find their motivation from the teacher, but instead from within themselves, notes The Montessori Connection. This can help a child become a life-long learner and a self-motivated person. It can help your kindergartner to build self-reliance, independence and a sense of pride in her self-directed accomplishments and to maintain her natural enthusiasm for learning.
Picture your kindergartner sitting still at her desk, attentively staring at the teacher who is drilling the class on their ABCs or handing out worksheets. Now, think about your child eagerly learning as she works with materials of her choice, experimenting and exploring through all of her senses. If the latter description seems more conducive to your child’s learning, you aren’t alone. The ability for your child to get full sensory experiences and to actively engage in the learning process can make school more productive for her academic and developmental skill building, according to the Scholastic Teachers website.
- American Montessori Society: Introduction to Montessori
- American Montessori Society: Benefits of Montessori
- Montessori Connection: Benefits of the Montessori Method
- American Montessori Society: Montessori Classrooms
- The International Montessori Council: Why Montessori for the Kindergarten Year?
- The International Montessori Index: FAQ's
- University of Illinois Extension: Learning Styles
- University of Maryland, Center for Young Children: Mixed-Age Preschool
- Scholastic Teachers: Hands-On Is Minds-On
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