Is Montessori Right for My Child?

Cynthia Shaw (TJS parent) March 2020

With so many challenges facing our public schools today -- class size, redistricting, overwhelming homework  yet falling test scoreslack of outside time in favor of tablet time -- you may be thinking, "is there another way?"
There is: Take this quiz to find out if a Montessori School is right for your child!

Do you want an educational environment that works with your child's personality, innate curiosity and prefered method of learning?

Montessori lessons are hands-on and active. Students discover information for themselves. Traditional school lessons are often dictated to students who listen passively, memorize, and take tests. In Montessori, elementary school children explore and learn with hands-on instruction under the guidance of Montessori teachers. Montessori Middle school offers an academically rigorous curriculum using integrated, student-led projects grounded in real-world application to foster critical and analytical thinking skills.

Each child's preferred method of learning - hands-on, visual, kinesthetic, aural, etc. are incorporated into every lesson. Montessori teachers act as guides and consultants to students on a one-on-one basis. They assist each child along his or her own learning path. In a traditional setting, the pace and order of each lesson is predetermined. The teacher must deliver the same lesson, at the same pace, in the same order, for all of the students.

Is your child one of a countless many in a crowded classroom or portable?

According to a study by the National Education Association (NEA):

"The effect of smaller classes on student achievement extends far beyond the early grades. Follow-up studies of STAR (Student/Teacher Achievement Ratio) students through grade 7 shows higher achievement levels in reading, language, math, science, and social studies. Additionally, students in smaller classes showed more positive behaviors towards engagement and learning than did the students in larger classes."

Many Montessori classrooms have a total of 20-30 children; many even less. The size and layout of each classroom allows for each child to develop his or her own capabilities and interests. Teachers interact and assess individual children on a daily basis and prepare an environment and individualized learning plan that is simultaneously stimulating and academically, physically, socially and emotionally accessible.

Does nightly homework cause anxiety for your family?

A study from the Journal of Experimental Education finds: A new study finds that a heavy homework load negatively impacts the lives of high school students in upper middle-class communities, resulting in excess stress, physical problems and little or no time for leisure. In The Homework Myth (2006), author Alfie Kohn challenges the benefits of homework, noting "that current research shows homework provides no benefits to younger children, may not even help older children, and in contrast to popular belief, does not reinforce what students learn in school."

In Montessori schools, *all* work is done in the classroom. No homework is assigned! Children work in concentrated three-hour work cycles, engaged in lessons and activities based on each child's individualized learning. Montessori strives to develop happy, engaged learners who exhibit passion and an internalized drive to learn -- a valuable life skill.

Does your child enjoy time outdoors to explore and allow his or her imagination to flourish?

Montessori encourages imaginative exploration of the outdoors and the environment. At The Journey School, this includes field trips, garden and chicken care, bee keeping and more, such as multi-day trips to campgrounds, historical sites and major cities.

Dr. Maria Montessori considered the outdoor environment an extension of the indoor classroom. According to her philosophy, the natural world provided endless possibilities for experiential learning. "Only through freedom and environmental experience is it practically possible for human development to occur," she wrote in The Absorbent Mind.

Is your child ahead of their class in one subject, on par with the class in another, but could use more individualized attention in yet another subject?

The individual child's work pace is honored and encouraged in the Montessori classroom. Traditional classrooms expect all children to work at the same pace. According to the American Montessori Society, "Although students are free to work at their own pace, they're not going it alone. The Montessori teacher closely observes each child and provides materials and activities that advance his learning by building on skills and knowledge already gained. This gentle guidance helps each child master the challenge at hand—and protects him from "falling behind." In fact, a child who is unleashed to learn at his or her own pace is often a child who is far ahead of "traditional" timeframes in learning. Each child is challenged appropriately in each area of the curriculum to ensure that skills and competencies are fully developed and that the child is able to pursue his own unique interests.

If you found yourself agreeing with most of these answers ... Montessori is right for you! Contact the Journey School to schedule an individual tour, or remote tour with our Head of School, today!

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