Choosing a school for my precious little angle was no random decision.
There are a few things that I feel quite strongly about.
• My daughters are empowered – they brought themselves into the world at their own time and pace while I was in calm state of hypnosis.
• Their instincts are their compass – they have the freedom to choose their food based on what their body them they need
• They are treated as individuals and respected – I try not to compare my daughters to each other, and I value their input when I make decisions that affect them.
• They are trusted with precious property – my 3 year old was a whizz on the iPad at 18 months and now enjoys exploring with my camera.
Further, there are a few things that are quite handy for children to do by themselves so you can get on with more important things. Dressing, pouring drinks, feeding, finishing tasks, tidying up, sharing and respecting that you’re busy when they see you’re in the middle of something.
The Montessori model fosters all these fundamentals that I value so highly. Respect, structure, finishing, kindness… And encourages independence which leads to the handy bits I mention above as an added bonus!
Maria Montessori based her method on research she did about the history of education of the previous two centuries. She introduced her method in poor communities in Italy in the 1900’s where she achieved great success. It spread to the USA in 1960 and there are now an estimated 20 000 schools worldwide.
The method values the child as he/she really is. It meets their individual mental, physical, and emotional needs in a supportive environment similar to that of a family or a small community.
There is no separation between age groups. Older children help younger ones; and younger children learn from older ones. This brings about a natural caring and kindness from within every child. It limits the disadvantages of peer competiveness and emphasized social interaction in a natural way, similar again, to that in which they would interact in society.
There is no “teacher”, only a directress, who directs the children when they need guidance. The directress knows what every child likes to do and may from time to time direct him/her to something different in order to develop a well-balanced set of skills at the appropriate pace. In this way their individual needs are met at their own pace, allowing them to thrive. Learning is part of the fun and exploring.
There is only one toy of each kind. When a child is busy with it, they are respected as being busy and important and the other children do not interrupt. They learn to take turns. When they finish, the toy is replaced in the same place. There is a strong structure within which creativity can thrive.
Co-incidentally I have just read a book about creativity and the single most important factor for creativity is structure. Most writers have the same routine every morning, go to the same coffee shop and start working at the same time. Within this safe environment, your mind is given the opportunity to go beyond its boundaries.
It is no surprise that some of the best inventors of our time were schooled in a Montessori fashion. Larry and Sergey from Google come to mind first, also in the tech space is Jeff Bezos from Amazon and Jimmy Wales from Wikipedia. P Diddy in music, Gabrial Garcia Marquez in literature, Helen Hunt and George Clooney, both Academy Award actors and Anne Frank, the famous diarist from World War II. And the list goes on….
Clearly there was only one option for me and I would always recommend this method. However it is not for everyone, I recommend looking at all options available to you and deciding what is right for you and your child. Take your child with you and ask them what they think. If they’re too young to speak, observe their reactions.