I was reading a number of articles / blog posts recently talking about Montessori schooling and common myths and misunderstandings. There are even some out there stating that it’s a complete scam. It got me thinking about what I thought of Montessori schooling before I really knew anything about it and I started pulling some of those topics together. I thought it may be interesting to share with you – especially for those of you who are not familiar with Montessori at all.
Before we ever visited a Montessori school or researched it all – I was clueless and honestly thought some of the below myths were truths. I was quickly proven wrong not just through my own experience but those of friends and family. I, of course, am no authority on the topic of Montessori schooling – but I hope to give everyone a little more insight into Montessori from a parents point of view! Here are 5 Myths about Montessori.
5 Montessori Myths from a Parents Point of View
Myth #1: Montessori Is Only for the Wealthy
Maria Montessori actually started her development of the Montessori education for disabled and disadvantaged children; although, it was her goal to extend Montessori to all types of children. Today, you can find Montessori in many variations and price points. There are, of course, the “elite” (for lack of a better word) private Montessori schools, which will be charging a higher tuition rate, in return for additional benefits or the community it is set in – but you will also have the middle of the road price points.
When we had to look for new child care for Lennox at short notice, I assumed there would be no way we could afford sending her to a Montessori school. The moment we walked into the school – we were in love and thought for sure the price tag would be high – we were pleasantly surprised! To our surprise, the school we selected was no more than (ok maybe $50 more a month) all the other full-time daycares we were looking at. So don’t hesitate to stop by a Montessori school if you are interested in your child going – you may be surprised by the tuition costs. If you are going to pay hundreds of dollars a week / month for child care – you mine as well check out all your options, right? That is what learned after touring 20 daycares!
Myth #2: The Montessori Classroom is Unstructured and Children Can Do What They Want All Day.
Although the children have more freedom in a Montessori classroom to choose their “work” and activities – there is still plenty of structure and a schedule set for the day – it is not just an 8 hour free for all! They don’t have the day scheduled out down to the minute, as we experienced in a traditional daycare – but there is a schedule for the day. At Lennox’s Montessori school they have blocks of times where they are to do their “works”. Lennox can of course choose which work she wants to work on, and some days she picks something she has done over and over, while other days she is encouraged to try something new and more challenging. Along with working, they have activities such as art, spanish, dance/music, science class, etc. It to me, is the perfect mix of freedom, independence and structure. As for the Montessori classroom itself, it is organized and orderly! You can read a post I wrote last year about the classroom environment and the daily schedule.
Myth #3: Montessori Curriculum is Not Strongly Academic; Child May Fall Behind.
I find this to be the most extreme myth. Every person (child and adult) I know that has attended Montessori schooling at some point in their life, has said that they were ahead of the “norm” academic curve. This does not mean, of course, that they will always be gifted or ahead of the curve – but as a starting point – they are beyond the “minimum” requirements for say, Kindergarten or 1st Grade. A fellow Montessori mom just told me today actually, that a public school teacher was telling her just how ahead Montessori children are in Kindergarten and that entering the school system in the first grade, may actually be better (food for thought for us…).
Honestly, I didn’t know everything that Lennox would be learning as she entered into the Primary level of her Montessori school. I was amazed to find out how advanced she could really get, in just a few short years. She will cover the basics of reading, writing, social / personal skills, life skills but she will also have the chance to learn addition, subtraction, division, multiplication, geography, Spanish, science, etc. Those are a lot of skills for a 4-6 year old. I am still curious how it will all happen, as Lennox is not there yet with some of those topics – but she is learning and anything she can absorb into her open mind – is fantastic!
Myth #4: Montessori is “All Work and No Play”
This goes back to the schedule and structure of their day. There is plenty of work and academic/learning time – but their daily schedule still has plenty of time for play – such as music / dance and recess! Also, to an adult, learning how to count, pour, tie their shoe, set the table, mix colors, etc sounds like work – but to a little kid – that is still play and fun! Stacking blocks (aka The Pink Tower) from smallest to largest – is learning about size and balance, while they think they are just building a tower! To me, that statement of all work and no play is completely wrong. Your thoughts?
Myth #5: Montessori Teachers Are Too Strict
I think this can be a myth or truth about ANY teacher at ANY school. It’s completely up to their teaching strategy and personality. Montessori is, however, built on respect for children, adults, our planet, our possessions, everything. Respect. This sometimes can come off as being strict or not loving when you see how a teacher welcomes a child in the morning or how they interact. But if you really watch and see it day in and day out, you see how much the teachers love their children. They may not run over and give hugs (although there are plenty that still do!), they may welcome them nicely each day, interested in anything going on at home or what they have to tell them and encourage them to learn, grow and mature as a little person! At Lennox’s school and I believe in Montessori in general – being a loving and caring teacher (or “guide”) is essential. I know that each teacher Lennox has and had in the past has been different, but they all loved and cared for Lennox greatly. Lennox loved them all as well. When your child runs down the hall in the morning to get to their teacher as fast as they can, instead of giving you a hug goodbye – you know something is going the right way at school!