Friday, February 17, 2017

What to Consider in a Montessori Elementary School

Making the decision to move from public schools to Montessori education requires careful consideration. For many parents, the fundamentals of Montessori learning are a mystery, while others have a lifetime of misconceptions that have to be overcome. When looking at a potential Montessori educator, here are a few things to ask about and be aware of.


Number of Students in Classrooms

Montessori classrooms are kept small for a reason. Allowing the instructor to dedicate more time to each student is the primary advantage. Each instructor is thoroughly trained in all of the subjects they will be teaching, which allows children to spend more time with a single instructor and less of their educational moving between classes. And since the classrooms have mixed ages, younger children are able to learn from older ones to build social skills and educational goals.


Self-Focused Education

The misconception that children have complete control over the learning process sounds intimidating, but it is not a correct picture of Montessori learning.  Children are encouraged to develop their own schedules, but class time is still divided into blocks, albeit longer ones, which give each child more time to spend on subjects and projects.  The environment is self-directed, but still follows a well-rounded curriculum. 


Montessori Curriculums

Montessori educators are not specialized in the way that public school teachers are. The subject matter being taught is nearly identical to public schools, such as math, language arts, history, and art. The difference is that Montessori education uses an integrated approach that ties the different subjects together. For example, learning about Egyptian pyramids ties to geometry, art, and other subjects. The integration of different subjects into a single process is fundamental to the Montessori process.


Gifted and Special Learning Needs

From the Montessori perspective, all children are gifted, but each in their own way. The Montessori environment allows children to expand on subjects that come more easily or spend a bit more time on the ones that are giving them a challenge. Having mixed ages in the classroom is especially helpful for gifted and special needs children because the older kids provide additional guidance and assistance.


Standardized Testing

Standardized educational tests are a requirement for all educators, including Montessori schools and homeschooling. These tests are used to determine both the educational level of students and the success of the institution. While Montessori children take the same tests, they are taught the materials in a different way that focuses more on integrated skills than rote memorization.


How Well Do Montessori Students Compare?


For years, the comparison between Montessori and traditional education was a difficult call to make. As research has progressed over the years, it has become apparent that Montessori students tend to learn as well or even better than traditional education students, including higher math skills and more complex vocabulary and writing skills.

At the Montessori School of Flagstaff Switzer Mesa Campus, our students enjoy mixed-age classrooms where they can work together and learn from their older peers.  The self-directed environment allows students to explore on their own, while still being guided by the teacher.  To see the Montessori difference firsthand, call our school today and schedule a tour.

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