From the outside looking in, you may think that the Montessori curriculum is more difficult than public school. Young children are often reading or doing math with four digit numbers and work independently to complete their lessons. This may cause some parents to believe that it will be too challenging for their child or that a Montessori school is all work and no play for small children. The truth, however, is that the Montessori curriculum follows a natural progression to allow children to do challenging work more quickly, and is designed to feed the child’s natural desires to work and grow.
What makes Montessori different?
Because of the individualized nature of the Montessori classroom, children are able to learn at their own pace. Once they have mastered a skill, the teacher can introduce a new and more challenging lesson. Public schools must move through the curriculum at a pre-determined pace, so children may be left behind if they are not ready or, alternatively, children who learn more quickly don’t feel challenged by the material. The Montessori classroom gives each child the opportunity to learn at a pace that best meets their needs through each step of their education.
As a result of the intentional materials and lessons in a Montessori classroom, children are able to master all the skills necessary to move to more challenging lessons. This means that the teacher can easily identify if students need additional support before moving to the next lesson. The teacher will clearly know if the student has all the previous knowledge necessary to tackle more challenging material. The demands of public school do not always allow teachers the opportunity to spend more time working with students or to cater the lessons to ensure a child’s mastery. This means children may not have the skills they need to succeed with future lessons.
Maria Montessori’s Perspective
Maria Montessori said that “work is the play of the child.” She believed that children needed the freedom to explore with materials and that is how they would learn best. She also believed that the child’s contribution to the classroom and their self-satisfaction in the work they accomplished would bolster their self-esteem. She believed children needed a few things to thrive:
- Less structure and more freedom to think and choose lessons
- Simple materials that appeal to the children
- Multiage classrooms
- Movement to connect body and mind
- A teacher to assess when the child has mastered the necessary skills and can guide them toward more challenging works
The expectations for Montessori children are high because the goal of the Montessori method is to unlock the full potential of each child in the classroom. When children are encouraged to grow and face challenges head on in a nurturing environment, they will happily rise to the occasion. I would not consider Montessori more difficult than public school since a Montessori classroom provides all the necessary support to help the child succeed. If you are in the Bay area, the teachers and staff at Fountainhead Montessori are ready to guide your child to reach higher. Schedule a tour today.