Should You Choose a Montessori Preschool for Your Child?
Preschool plays an important role in the early growth stage of your child’s future. So, it is very important that you research well before choosing the correct preschool for your kid. Montessori schooling with its own distinct style of learning has been followed in the country for more than a decade. Montessori teaching style focuses on child-centric learning environment that emphasises on teaching the kids to be responsible and disciplined. The idea is to let the children move around freely and encourages them to care for their own needs, like taking care of their personal belongings, preparing their own tiffin, cleaning up space once they are done, etc.
What Is a Montessori Preschool?
Montessori style of education was founded in the year 1907 by an Italian educator named Maria Montessori. It was known as the Montessori movement and was initiated with a novel thought behind it that children should learn from real-life experiences in a playful environment. Montessori focuses on setting up a carefully designed atmosphere for kids and gives them the opportunity to learn and work for a long uninterrupted period of time. Children are exposed to a variety of interactive activities that are specifically designed to teach them some specific skills. The classes focus on improving the concentration, self-discipline and conceptual learning.
Benefits of Montessori Preschool Education System
Some of the major benefits of Montessori Preschool are:
1. Child-centric learning approach
Montessori preschool teaching method focuses on designing a curriculum for students that is based on their specific needs and capability and also gives them room to explore and understand the concepts at their own pace. For this, everything is kept in the classroom well within the reach of children.
2. Focus on self-discipline
At Montessori preschool, self-discipline is something that comes naturally to children. The kids get to choose the activities they would like to work upon each day, and also how much time they will be working on it. The teachers would set certain ground rules for each task which everyone has to follow. This helps in enhancing self-discipline, motivation, and concentration amongst kids.
3. Special attention on key developmental stages
The Montessori curriculum pays special attention to key developmental stages in children during their growth stages. 3-year old children focus on their language skills and the development of large muscles. Older children will be focused on fine motor skills development and other learning experiences.
4. Natural learning of classroom environment and order
The curriculum focuses on an orderly environment by having a dedicated location and shelves for each of the objects and activities. When the children complete a certain activity they have to keep the items back into their appropriate places. This facilitates a neat and anticipated environment and also teaches self-discipline to the kids.
5. Learning is made an experience
Learning becomes an experience when teachers become guides and mentors. Teachers lay certain ground rules for each activity and allow the children to explore the concepts at their own pace and in their own terms.
6. Inspires creativity
Montessori curriculum is designed in such a manner that it inspires the spark of creativity amongst kids. The focus is more on the joyful learning path of the work rather than the end result which definitely inspires creativity.
7. Activity oriented learning
The hands-on learning experience or activity-based learning is the biggest advantage of the Montessori method. The children are encouraged to focus on their individual tasks until they have properly gained expertise in the same with a primary focus on learning language, maths, and culture.
8. Improves overall skills
Montessori method not only focuses on the classroom related skills but also on overall skill development of the child such as social development, personality development, self-discipline, etc.
9. Encourages cooperation amongst kids
The curriculum encourages many group-related activities which encourages team play, cooperation and mutual respect amongst kids.
10. Individualized system of education
At Montessori preschool, each child is treated differently. Children learn the concepts through activities and objects at their own pace which also encourages them to try out certain challenging aspects that enhances their learning experience.
Characteristics of a Montessori Preschool
Some of the unique characteristics of Montessori preschools include:
1. Special emphasis on self-dependence
Independence and individualisation is the base of the Montessori education system. At Montessori preschool, the children are self-directed and are free to explore the activities at their own pace in a conducive environment. This helps them learn from their own mistakes and the importance of independence.
2. Focus on self-responsibility and self-discipline
The student-centric learning approach of Montessori preschools lets the child discover their own path of learning. This helps them to learn how to work within their own framework, understand the schedule of the classroom and to use their time constructively.
3. Mixed-age groups
One of the most distinctive characteristics of Montessori preschool is the mixed age group classrooms. Younger and older children mutually benefit from this arrangement as older children can practise their leadership skills by guiding and mentoring younger children. While the younger children get to naturally learn from older children by watching them.
4. Prepared workstations
Montessori preschool has a pre-organised workstation with a wide range of activities. Children can independently choose one of these learning activities and they are given uninterrupted time period to complete that activity and also keep the materials back into their predetermined places. This gives a differentiated learning approach to the kids.
5. An environment of mutual respect
The Montessori preschool environment naturally incites mutual respect amongst the children. Children learn to respect their teachers and peers and be a part of the community where everyone supports each other while they learn together.
6. Involvement of parents in the learning process
Parents play a vital role in the learning process of Montessori school training. To increase parental involvement, they encourage parents to regularly come to the classroom and participate in various activities with their children.
What Is the Difference Between Traditional Preschool and Montessori Preschool?
Some of the major differences between traditional preschool and Montessori preschool are:
1. Classrooms with mixed age group kids
This is the major difference between a traditional school and Montessori preschool. In the regular kindergarten, every student is of the same age while in Montessori preschool the classrooms consist of kids in the age group of 3-6 years of age. This encourages older children to watch out and guide younger students along with the teachers.
2. Hands-on learning experience
Hands-on learning activities are encouraged in both traditional kindergarten and Montessori preschools. However, what differs is the degree of application of hands-on learning experience in both schools. Montessori preschools focus more on activity-based learning which looks both fun and joyful to kids.
3. Individualized learning system
The basic foundation of Montessori teaching style is individualization approach. It primarily focuses on letting the child learn the concepts at their own pace and in their own terms which are different from the approach followed in traditional kindergarten.
4. Smaller teacher-child ratio
In a traditional kindergarten, the normal teacher-student ratio is about 25:1 however, in a Montessori preschool the student-teacher ratio is comparatively much lesser. Moreover, the class also comprises of a combination of smaller and older children, with elder children guiding the smaller ones.
5. Flexible curriculum
The teaching method and curriculum of Montessori preschool is quite flexible as compared to regular kindergarten. The Montessori curriculum is designed to focus on individual aspects and abilities of the child rather than the whole class.
Cons of Montessori Preschool
Certain cons of Montessori preschool include:
1. Limited availability of schools
There is limited availability of Montessori schools in the United States and finding one for your child in your area might be difficult.
2. High costs
Montessori preschool costs might be quite high to be affordable for most parents. You need to compare benefits versus the expense you need to bear in such cases.
3. Absence of certified teachers
Montessori schools are not always equal. The rules and principles regarding the selection procedure of teachers may differ in some Montessori schools. Some Montessori schools may have teachers that are not certified, so parents need to research well before choosing the correct Montessori school.
4. Strict rules for parents
Montessori schools also have certain rules for parents. Sometimes they ask parents not to ask the kids about their day at school. Montessori schools claim to work better if a Montessori environment is provided at home as well.
How to Know if a Montessori Preschool Is Right for Your Child
After reading the above post, the first question that might pop up in your mind will be how to decide if Montessori nursery school is the right choice for your child. A simple answer to this question is that all children can excel in the Montessori style of learning. If your child is more active in socialising, collaborative with other kids of her age and older ones then definitely Montessori school is the right choice for her. Most of the times, kids are so young that they are still developing the traits that will help them excel in Montessori preschool. However, Montessori for kindergarten is designed to work out for all types of kids. Some of the pros of Montessori preschool education include that the complete focus will be on your child, children explore and learn at their own pace, and your child can continue with Montessori training even throughout primary and secondary schooling.
Montessori classroom is definitely different from traditional kindergarten even then there are certain common ideals between the two, like encouraging the love for learning in children, helps in building personal responsibility, and concept based learning principles. Some children are self-motivated and if you are able to encourage the traits like concentration, timeliness, order and discipline, coordination, independence, etc. then such students will excel in any type of school!