Frequently Asked Questions about Montessori
Q. Is it true that children in Montessori classrooms are relatively unsupervised and children can "do whatever they want." How do you ensure that each child receives a well-rounded education?
A. The idea that children run rampant and without direction is a common misconception about Montessori education. Montessori education is similar to many systems in that it follows a set curriculum that increases in complexity as the child grows. The teacher carefully follows the linear sequence of the curriculum. Where it differs is in the child's daily routine. We believe that children learn best through their own explorations.
In the elementary school, students learn to consult and maintain organizational tools such as: Lesson Lists and Work Journals. Self-selection is empowering and fosters critical decision-making skills, responsibility and independence. Under the careful observation of the teacher, a child in the Montessori classroom is free to choose activities that meet their individual interests, consequently allowing them to concentrate for extended periods of time on topics which spark their interest. While children are free to explore and be creative with the materials, the teachers, in contrast, must give lessons to students in a very precise and controlled way, carefully introducing a variety of topics to each child as he or she becomes developmentally ready. The Montessori environment is designed to foster self-control and respect for others. The teacher will redirect disruptive children, leading them to make more positive choices.
Q. Since Montessori classrooms emphasize non-competitiveness, how are students adequately prepared for real-life competition later on?
A. Current educational research shows that children actually learn better in a collaborative rather than a competitive environment.* Learning in an environment where children are inspired and invigorated by their peers to learn more and explore their own ideas in greater depth provides children with life long learning skills which will apply to any learning environment. While children easily learn the concept of competition from childhood games, it is much harder to foster self-reliance, self-confidence, and a strong sense of self-esteem. We feel these fundamentals will adequately prepare a child for future situations where competitiveness is needed.*
* For more information on children, learning and competition, please consider the following:
Kohn, Alfie. No Contest: The Case Against Competition.
Kohn, Alfie. Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A's, Praise, and Other Bribes.