Three of the boys started back up at school today and I made the comment, “I’m so excited that you guys get to go back to school today!” Mark looked at me and smiled as though saying, “I bet you are, haha.”
But I didn’t mean that I’m excited because I get to rid myself of the chaos for 7 hours but rather I’m excited because their school is so outstanding and because they love it so much!
We transferred our oldest over to a Montessori school after he finished 1st grade in our local school district. He started falling behind and was being constantly teased for his lack of social, physical, and educational skills and we didn’t want his self esteem to lessen any further nor did we want him to EVER think he had less worth than those children who could be successful in areas he struggled. So we started exploring all of our options.
I read a book called Montessori Madness and knew I must visit one of these campuses. I fell in love the moment I set foot on the campus and even further in love once I had spent a morning inside one of the tranquil classrooms. Immediately I searched all over town for Montessori schools and spent time interviewing them until I landed on the perfect fit for us.
I can’t imagine any other type of schooling for my children and am thankful that they are considered charter schools in our area so it’s no out of pocket cost to us. If we ever move we’ve agreed that we will have to find a way to afford all four boys in Montessori because nothing else compares to the education they are receiving there.
Montessori teaches children to love learning. It uses manipulatives and open classrooms to help teach difficult concepts rather than rote memorization. It gives them the tools to learn through ways that are most effective for them rather than a one size fits all type of education (which we all know is not true nor effective). It emphasizes that education is more than what we learn from a book. Education involves building an entire human being from the emotional to the social to the knowledge.
Here are a dozen reasons I love the Montessori Method of learning:
1. There is no pledge of allegiance in the morning. Children are given 5 minutes of quiet time to meditate, pray, imagine, whatever it is they choose to do in their silence.
2. All religions, cultures, sexual orientations are respected and in fact taught. They look at the world from all aspects and in their sex ed courses they teach about same sex relationships and transgender and a respect for all humans.
3. Classrooms are open and children are free to roam. The classroom is divided into different themes with manipulatives to help with each topic. There is not much pencil/paper work but instead math is taught with beads. Science is taught with hands on experiments. Reading is taught in small groups. Geography is taught through artistic makings of wall-sized maps and presentations by the students. There is no teaching from a blackboard. Instead they are given small group lessons and often times individual lessons. They work at their own pace on their own lessons. They do which work they feel most like focusing on at the time they choose. They can choose to do work outside in the garden or on the porch. They go to the bathroom at will, no need for permission. This teaches such a great level of responsibilty, organization and the children are very respectful of this type of classroom.
4. With 30 students in a classroom the teacher still barely raises her voice above a loud whisper and the children listen. The classroom is so quiet and the students happily at work. If the noise level exceeds the acceptable limitation a child calmly rings a bell and the class responds.
5. Their teachers believe in what they do. They love what they do. My children are more than just a student to them. They love my children and they see my children for who they are. They take pride in their successes and feel pain when they see the struggle. There is a deep love and respect that my boys receive each day in their school.
6. It is a no meat, egg, peanut, or sugar campus. This teaches the children to respect their bodies, all life, as well as respect the many of their peers that are vegetarians. Children eat lunch in the classroom where a book is read to them each day while they eat.
7. Montessori does not believe in testing or grades which makes it beautiful. They do not teach to the state tests. The required state test is the only test the children take each year. This helps alleviate competition and a loss for the love of learning. Learning should be something one desires to do not one that someone is required to do.
8. Montessori does not believe in homework. They have 7 hours every day to focus on school work. Home time should be family time. Time to play games, hike, explore and learn through happy family times.
9. I love the peace rug and requirement of peer involvement. When children have a dispute they cannot seem to resolve they are brought to the peace rug where they try to work out their problem. If they cannot resolve the issue peers are brought in to give suggestions.
10. There is no bullying! Children and staff at this school are so accepting of one another. One male child proudly paints his nails bright pink, celebrates the day he gets his hair long enough to wear in a ponytail, loves to dance ballet, and declares his love of “girly things”. The kids love him and embrace him and think it’s great that nobody teases him. The once deemed bully child was killed with enough kindness that he rarely has a discipline issue any more. The kids really learn what it means to be accepted and to be accepting. J is never mocked for his educational deficiencies. In fact last year he was scared to death to read on author’s night because he’s not a good reader and his class started chanting “J, J, J, you can do it!” He felt empowered and safe and did what he didn’t believe he could do.
11. Montessori teaches our children to see the world from a global perspective and not just an entitled American perspective.
12. Montessori has taught all of us that there’s more to life than being the fastest, smartest, most athletic, best paid, etc. Our kids may not test as well as yours but they are getting a love of life, learning, and others that can’t be tested and scored. That’s all I want for them…a depth of understanding and knowledge that helps them live full and happy lives. I believe Montessori is doing just that and I can’t imagine a better way to educate.