It seems these days the word “Montessori” is everywhere, from marketing hooks for toymakers to books about bringing the method home. But despite its recent surge in popularity, the Montessori approach has been used around the world for more than 100 years.
The Montessori method is an approach that essentially puts the child in charge of their own learning. It respects and values a child’s inherent ability to learn and discover through their natural curiosities.
Based on founder Dr. Maria Montessori’s belief that children learn better when they’re choosing what to learn, the Montessori philosophy aims to encourage a lifelong love for learning.
As a former Montessori preschooler myself, I’ve always been interested in the approach when it comes to my own children. On the flip side, as a mom with a full-time job, I’ve had both my kids in the same daycare (that we love) since they were each 4 months old. So when my son approached the age he could attend a Montessori preschool, I had a tough decision on my hands. Do I uproot him from an environment he loves and take him away from friends he’s been with since infancy and move him to a Montessori preschool?
After much discussion and reflection, that’s exactly what I did. Looking back, I have zero regrets. When it comes to preschool, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. As we all know, there is no right or wrong way to parent—we all have different philosophies and approaches based on our own upbringings, values, and the unique needs of our kids and families. And while Montessori preschool certainly may not be the right choice for everyone, for those who are considering it, I’m sharing three reasons why I chose a Montessori preschool for my son.
1. It Meets Kids at Their Level
Teachers in a Montessori classroom create an individualized learning plan for each child based on their specific areas of interest and capability levels. They present lessons individually to students, giving them the opportunity to learn and develop skills at their own pace. As kids learn new skills, they are given opportunities to practice, review, or move forward based on their own interests and capabilities. With the self-directed approach, kids get to lead their own learning and feel accomplished as they master new skills at their own pace instead of comparing themselves to those around them.
2. It Fosters a Love of Learning
The child-centered educational approach of Montessori emphasizes independence, respect for the child, and views children as inherently capable to learn and discover. Based on founder Dr. Maria Montessori’s belief that children learn better when they’re choosing what to learn, the Montessori philosophy aims to encourage a lifelong love for learning.
The premise is that allowing children to make their own choices based on intrinsic motivation (motivation that comes from within) versus adult direction or external motivation (like good grades or test scores), encourages children to follow their natural curiosity and enjoy the learning process.
3. It’s About More Than Being Book Smart
The Montessori approach values the development of the whole child: physical, social, emotional, and cognitive. Montessori classrooms are specifically designed to help children learn and grow their own capabilities—from learning how to dress themselves (e.i., zip their own coat, tie their own shoes), to communicating their needs effectively, to problem-solving with others, to adding numbers together.
With multi-age classrooms (typically spanning three years) set up as mini-communities, children naturally have the opportunity to learn real-life skills like independence, cooperation, leadership, and accountability.