Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Why I Love Montessori

We're sending Will to a Montessori preschool next year, and I couldn't be more excited.  Since I'd never heard of Montessori before I had children, (despite a master's degree in secondary education... wish I'd had more early childhood development classes!) I thought it might be worth mentioning Montessori here.

Montessori is a style of education that focuses on letting the children be leaders in their own education.  Rather than paraphrasing better articles on what Montessori is, if you're interested in learning more you can check out the Montessori 101 page from Will's school for next year: http://www.thechildrenshouseofwellesley.com/Montessori_Childrens_House_of_Wellesley/Montessori_101.html

Things I love about Montessori:

The choice it gives children to pursue their own interests, which I believe cultivates curiosity by rewarding it, and makes education fun

The guideline for parents to "never do for your children something they could do for themselves" which has inspired me to take the time to help Will learn to do things like assist me with setting the table, clear the table, get his own shoes on, put himself down for his own nap after he has a diaper (with plenty of hugs first of course) and other things that give him a sense of pride and actually make my life easier.

The way that Will is visibly happier when he's included in things like mixing up pancakes (which he then eats more of) or putting together a step stool.  By taking the time to encourage him to learn and try things he's interested in, even when it would take me half the time to do it alone, I've increased his happiness, decreased his tantrums, and gained a little helper around the house.

When I first visited a Montessori open house, I was a little freaked out.  They had counting cubes designed for four year olds, and no toys.  Isn't childhood a time for kids to be kids?  Where are the dress up clothes?  But when I started to really think about the things that interest Will, I realized that he would love a school where he gets to make the applesauce for snack using a food mill, or learn to do laundry, or practice using a real screwdriver or vacuum cleaner.  I have plenty of things for him to play with at home.  Why not send him somewhere where they'll teach him letters if he's interested, and if he's not, he can go pour liquids, or work on different metal hinges, or other practical life skills that toddlers are intently interested in but don't always get access to.

By the time Greg and I left the open house, we were frantic to get our application in the mail.

Even if you don't decide on a Montessori preschool, there are a lot of great ways you can implement some of the Montessori ideas in your own home.  A great book is "How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way" by Tim Seldin.  Will's preschool recommended it to me, and I've already enjoyed making some changes in our home to make things more accessible for Will and help him do things "all by himself".

There's so much he's capable of doing, if I give him the chance... and it's better for both of us!

Ok they're probably not getting that clean.  But the kids are having a great time!

He loves brushing his teeth now that he has a stool to reach the sink and do it all by himself... hopefully his enthusiasm now will continue!  He can turn the water on, get his toothbrush, put toothpaste on it, and brush his teeth.  

Will can poke the egg yolks with the whisk to break them, whisk the eggs with the oil, then gently stir the dry ingredients in for pancakes.

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