When people ask me why we chose to send our kids to Montessori School I always want to say “It’s a no brainer.” Instead I talk about how the Montessori philosophy is so intuitive to a child’s learning. I describe how the younger children participate in practical life, and learn to help each other in a multi-aged classroom.
Typically the next question is “Don’t the kids just run around and do what they want all day?” To which I respond, “the children have choices within a controlled environment, they are self-guided, no, they can’t hang from the rafters or stand on their head all day if that is what they feel like doing.” If you have a child in Montessori School then you have had a similar conversation at some point.
When I was four years old I didn’t understand that the spindle work helped me clarify the idea that the symbols represent a certain quantity of separate objects, and introduced the concept of zero. I just liked the way the felt in my hands, and the sounds they made when I put them in the box. Learning was fun. Having a say in what I wanted to work on was empowering. In a world where decisions were made for me on a daily basis, Gloucester Montessori gave me to opportunity to make choices for myself. I want my children to have that experience.
Emily Chertoff, a writer for The Atlantic, better describes her Montessori experience, “Every day was like a be-bop performance -- there were structures, but the players got to improvise within them.” From an outsider’s observation a Montessori classroom sounds like utter chaos. The idea of young children making their own choices is such a foreign idea. Montessori offers children the opportunity to make their own choices in the safe confines of the classroom. If they make the wrong choice then they can recover and make a better choice. This helps them gain confidence and learn the meaning of resilience. Two much need skills to navigate life outside of the classroom walls. So why do we send our kids to Montessori? It’s a no brainer.