Thoughts on Montessori

As I’ve become more involved with the home educating community, I’ve seen that different things work for different families and there are many ways of going about homeschooling. Although I have heard of various educational philosophies such as unschooling, classical, Montessori, Steiner and Charlotte Mason, I’ve become increasingly aware that I don’t really understand the principles behind some of the methods and how that might affect the day-to-day reality of home education. I want to learn more about different approaches, partly so that I can incorporate things that would work for our family into my ideas and partly because it’s difficult to understand someone if you don’t know what they’re talking about!

So mainly for my own benefit, I’ve added an Educational Styles section to the menu and I’ll gradually be writing overviews of the various different pedagogies and approaches to home educating. I started off with Montessori, for no particular reason other than that it was easy to find plenty of information on it.

My initial thoughts on Montessori are that it is particularly suited to a nursery or primary school setting. I love the various different materials but there is no way we could ever afford to buy or make more than a few of them. I’m not convinced that the hands off approach would work for every child, as I don’t think Aaron would always be able to learn a skill from seeing it demonstrated just once and he would get very frustrated attempting to complete it by himself. Then again, that might not be a problem in a setting with all the Montessori materials, as it would be easier to match activities to the child’s ability and the difficulty increase between each set of materials would be smaller. As a very scientific person, I do like the fact that the materials tend to be focused on language and maths rather than art. Many of the skill boxes I’ve been using with Aaron are inspired by Montessori activities. Reading about the sensitive periods was really interesting and something that I will definitely bear in mind when planning our work.

I did come across an amazing website, www.infomontessori.com, which is a guide containing exercises for the four areas of learning for 3 to 6 year olds. I also just noticed this paragraph on the home page, which pretty much answers my doubts above.

“Overall, what makes this method of learning so different compared to the conventional form of education we have today, is that the teacher does not stand in front of the class and teach each child the same lesson all at once. Each child is allowed to learn at his own rhythm in a way where he feels as though he is in fact not learning or being taught.

Montessori called this way of teaching “preparing the child for success”.  The teacher is there to guide the child through small Exercises in which the child will succeed. Through time, the Exercises rise in difficulty but because the progression is so well thought out, the child never feels as though learning is a struggle.”

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