Miranda rides school Christmas parade float; me on right

Miranda rides school Christmas parade float; me on right

I recall that near the end of December I posted that I’d write something here 360 days this year.   Then I went out-of-town rather unexpectedly…and it’s the fourth and this is my first post of the year.  So, the first question is, if I double post some days, does that count as two?  These are the early days of blogging so the rules aren’t yet firm…so I say YES!  Although, it does have to be two very different topics.

And, writing about not writing is a pretty lame excuse for a post.

So, a more interesting topic…Why do I love Montessori school?

When we began to think seriously about school for my very bright, very active, not-yet-five-year-old, we knew we were beginning a process which would make or break her love of education.  (We knew this because I loved school and attributed that to wonderful teachers…and my husband always hated school.  Which he attributed to it being boring…which I attribute to bad teachers.)  O.K., so one bad teacher doesn’t ruin everything for your life, but in kindergarten, I think it can have a HUGE impact.  We had the benefit of the age-cutoff being five years, FIRM, for public school.  That eliminated a couple of choices.  We visited two Montessori charter schools.  Both seemed great.  One had an opening.  Dumb luck, really.  We stumbled into the perfect school for my daughter.  Ask, and ye shall receive?

But here’s why it’s perfect:

Montessori-style education was created by Maria Montessori, an Italian woman, over 100 years ago.  Maria M obviously loved children and wanted to foster what is best about them; curiosity, energy and enthusiasm, creativity, a sense of wonder and the ability to learn from everything.  She was also aware that we must create loving, respectful citizens.  She developed a teaching style in which the adults are there as guides to help the students focus.  Education is play.  Challenging play, but play nonetheless.

My daughter, as mentioned above, is a child with ALOT of energy.  I don’t see the point of testing for various labels as long as we all get plenty of exercise.  But I also don’t see the point of trying to force her to sit in a desk for hours when I know she won’t be able to.  In Montessori, the children can move around the room using the materials on different subject areas, sitting or standing.  When a child has completed a “work,” they can move on, quite literally.  In my daughter’s classroom, there are actually rooms for different areas–with half walls or support beams in between–so it feels like a real change.  Not all Montessori classrooms have this much geography to spread out over!

Montessori curriculum includes quite a bit of music.  The group sings songs every morning in circle time and the students in my daughter’s class have been learning about Mozart for a few months now.  Miranda loves his music!  Keep in mind, this is kindergarten and preschool.  It’s so much easier for them to be open to everything at this age.  When they are teenagers, exposure to classical music will be too late…until they are 25.  But now the door is open.

Montessori teaches values like respect for others, ourselves and the earth.  Montessori teaches that we must be good and kind to each to make the world a better place.  This is a humanistic approach to morality which I find very appealing.  Good manners are also taught.  Miranda learned to place her hand on the arm of a person she’d like to speak to instead of interrupting and she even does this at home…mostly!

The wonderful primary teacher, Miss Karen,–ably assisted by the assistant teacher, Miss Colleen–introduced “work plans” in the 10th week of school.  A work plan is kind of like a Daytimer for kindergartners. There are certain things they must accomplish–like one “work” in numbers, one in letters, one in science, for example– before they can do “free choice.”   Prior to week 10, they had free choice all day.  She did this because in the lower primary, 1st through 3rd grade, the teacher starts with work plans at the beginning of the year.  Miss Karen noticed that this transition can be tough for some kids.  Well, Miranda is one of those kids now.  Work plans ruined her day.  Several days in fact.  But we’re working on it.  When the fuss about work plans came up,  I realized that my daughter is learning time-management skills no one taught me until I was nearly 30-years-old.  And this is a critical life skill.  She’s getting this in kindergarten!  I consider this genius.

Yes, I love Montessori.  I will end with the caveat that not all Montessori schools are created equal nor are all Montessori teachers as brilliant and enthusiastic as Miss Karen and Miss Colleen.  So, do your own research on your options.  But DO give Montessori a try.

I expect I’ll revisit this topic as the years fly by.