Is your child about to start preschool? Are you worried that sitting at a desk all day and being asked to complete certain tasks won't mesh well with their adventurous and independent nature? If so, it may be in your child's best interest to search for a pre-kindergarten program that practices the Montessori educational approach. Read on to learn more.
The Basic Concepts Of Montessori
The Montessori educational approach encompasses the idea that every child develops at his or her own pace. Through peer-to-peer learning, decision-making, and guided choice, each child is allowed to develop their skills in an individualized, catered-to-them manner.
Montessori classrooms are set up more like an inviting home than a structured classroom. You child will not be spending their day sitting at a desk. Instead, they'll find community tables, wide-open spaces, and quiet nooks with casual furniture. The choices of where they spend their time in the classroom and what they spend their time doing is up to them.
A Montessori-style pre-kindergarten classroom will be loaded with all kinds of sensorial materials for your child to explore. Each material is designed to appeal to your child's senses by means of bright colors and textural contrast. Your child will be free to explore the materials at their own pace, for as little or as long as they desire.
The materials are designed to teach a single lesson at a time. Once your child masters the skill from one material, they'll naturally lose interest and move on to a material that is more challenging for them. All materials are carefully arranged on shelves in the order of least difficult to most difficult so it's easy for your child to discern the next step in their practices.
Your child will share their classroom with children of different age groups. Usually, those age groups span 3 years. For example, all kids 3 - 6 years old will work and play together in the same room.
As adults, people tend to mingle with individuals of all age ranges, so the concept of peer-to-peer learning is intended to simulate real-world experience. The older children in the classroom are encouraged to assist the younger children. By doing so, the younger children learn how to interact with their peers and the older children benefit from reinforcing and validating their skills.
The Teacher's Role
Teachers who practice the Montessori-style of learning won't be pointing out any mistakes your child has made. Instead, they believe that children learn from their own mistakes. Any child is welcome to come to them for guidance, or they can simply retry a failed task or ask an older child for help completing it.
In a Montessori classroom, the teacher is primarily there to guide the natural instincts of your child as opposed to feeding them a pre-structured, by-the-book curriculum.
In the Montessori teaching technique, it is believed that standardized tests and assessments are detrimental to children as they force them to compare themselves to others. Instead of having to participate in pass or fail tests, your child's skill mastery will be gauged by the careful monitoring of their daily activities by the teacher.
The teacher will record what materials your child uses each day, what skills they have mastered through use of the materials, and how they play and work with the other children in the classroom. Through daily observation, the teacher will be able to assess your child's strength and weaknesses and offer guidance accordingly.
Not all preschool-age children thrive in a traditional classroom setting. For some, the "normal" classroom is too structured to hold their attention. If your child is extremely independent and likes to do things their own way, then get their education off to a great start by looking for a pre-kindergarten program in your area that follows the Montessori approach to teaching.