Wednesday, May 20, 2009


After our library program today, one of the mothers approached me and asked how I felt about the Montessori system. She had just enrolled her three-year old toddler, but was warned by friends that this was not the route to go. Instead she was told to enrol her child in a regular public or Catholic school. She wanted my professional opinion and I gave her an honest answer. Purely from my own experiences, I'm not a Montessori fan.

Several years ago, I ran an academic summer camp. In the mornings, I taught math. I remember having two girls in that class who were friends and classmates at a local Montessori school. One was quite mature, self-motivated, and could add and subtract in the blink of an eye. She was clearly thriving from her self-led environment. Her friend, however, was a different story. She struggled with the work, lacked social skills, and had difficulty asking for help. Was this because the Montessori method doesn't believe in lectures, but more in discovery? Maybe the lack of pressure from any tests and working at her own pace failed her? Perhaps even the mixed age groups in a class setting worked against her?

She wasn't my only experience with the Montessori method, but she was the one that stuck in my mind the most. Why? I could see her potential and how a little structure could've done wonders for her. I thought about math strategies and games that she would've liked. I remember talking to her parents about their choice for Montessori and they said because they paid a lot of money, they assumed it was good for their daughter.

For all parents out there still in education limbo, please remember your child's personality and understand that high monetary value doesn't equal a good education. Kids who are independent, self-motivated, and consciencious may find success at a Montessori school, but should be prepared when they find themselves in the real world where standardized testing and pressure to meet deadlines exist on a daily basis. For parents who are not familiar with a regular school system, the use of manipulatives, visual aids, and critical learning are all integral parts of the teaching method. Some parents think that this exists only in a Montessori world and that's simply not true.

That being said, every child is different. You know your child best. Take the time, do your research, and visit the schools. Whatever choice you make, I'm sure it will be the right one for your family.


Martha said...

Great post. Very informative and certainly something for parents to think about. Thanks for bringing this topic to the table (blog).

Mu said...

It's great timing to have read this. I have a daughter who's going kindergarden this coming fall. Although I have kind of decided that she will go to a public school, Montessori is always one of the options out there in our discussion. This post just helped me gain enough confidence on my decision. Thanks!

Hip Teacher Mama said...

Hi Mu! Thanks for signing up as a follower. I hope you visit the blog on a daily basis.

Sounds like you kept an open mind when you said Montessori was discussed. That's great that you thought about it, but in the end, chose what you thought would be best for your daughter. All children are unique so only you know how your daughter learns best. Does she need a teacher to do a lesson and demonstrate numerous examples? Is she hands-on and wants to problem-solve on her own? Is she more of a leader or an observer? These questions and more target various types of learners and your choice to put her in a public school system is great. Teachers are professionals and trained to nurture each child's strengths and help them work on any weaknesses. Being in a regular school environment, also helps them develop communication and social skills with people of different ethnic backgrounds and socio-economic class. Montessori school systems tend to change those dynamics because it is very costly and only available in particular neighbourhoods. A public school system is more true to the real world.
I hope your daughter enjoys kindergarten. That is an awesome age group to teach! :P

Anonymous said...

A very informative post. Thank you.