Sunday, January 8, 2012

Preparation for Life

We may not be able to prepare the future for our youth, but we can prepare our youth for the future. 
Franklin D. Roosevelt

There is a question I get more than any other question when families are considering Montessori for their child. That question is 'How will my child do when they eventually transition into a more traditional environment?'.....I love this question because it gives me the opportunity to share so many wonderful aspects of the Montessori environment.   Maria Montessori's vision was not that children in her classroom were being prepared for another Montessori environment.  Maria Montessori believed that the Montessori classroom is a place where children learn skills to help them manage themselves and manage life.  The skills children learn while spending time in a Montessori classroom prepare them to step into the world and move onto whatever new situation they go into-be it another private school option or a more traditional environment.  Some of the skills children learn in a Montessori classroom include:
**Independence-children learn independence by having the freedom to choose work
**Concentration-being able to concentrate on work builds focus and attention for longer process works
**Coordination-children learn coordination of movements by carrying works and manipulating materials which helps them learn to coordinate their thoughts and body
**Order-children have a need for order in their lives.  The Montessori classroom is orderly, organized, beautiful and attractive, serving children's need for order. They are shown lessons that have a sequence of steps as well as all materials needed to complete the work successfully
**Communication Skills-children learn important communication skills in the Montessori classroom-teachers serve as role models speaking in clear, complete sentences and supporting children as they learn to give/receive messages/directions from others as well as ask questions to get their needs met.
**Respect-the Montessori environment is a very respectful environment-children learn very early on that they are respected so they in turn respect one another.  We respect one another, the materials, the environment, and work cycle.
**Process-children understand that they are valued for who they are, what their interests are, and what skills they are learning rather than being in a environment that values a certain standard or product.  This fosters a respect for the learning happening not the benchmark they are trying to reach.  Respecting the learning and where each child is actually encourages more learning because they can be engaged right where they are rather than always striving to be where they are not and comparing themselves to another student or higher standard.
**Confidence-meeting each child where they with skills allows for a child to solidly learn something new.  The Montessori teachers assess and follow children and give lessons on things children are ready to be learning.  Individualized learning allows for solid understanding and also allows for a child to go back and review skills learned.  Having a solid understanding of skills gives children a strong sense of confidence and helps them go into new situations with a feeling of 'I can do this!'.  
**Responsibility-Children in the Montessori classroom build a sense of responsibility by caring for their environment through works such as dusting, plant watering, cleaning up messes they make, and returning their work to the shelf so it's ready for the next friend to choose.  Older children have jobs in the classroom such as:  feeding the fish, rolling rugs, straightening shelves, cleaning the easel and being lunch helper. 
**Leadership Skills:  Children in the Montessori classroom build their leadership skills by practicing communication skills, interacting with other children and teachers as well as having opportunity to teach other children in the classroom.  Often times, children are given the opportunity to help one another with things like:  giving a lesson to a child, helping a child with their coat or boots, showing a new child how to choose a work, or helping children work through a conflict. 

As you can see looking at this list, these are skills all children need to learn to function in the world or in a future classroom.  The Montessori environment is an intentionally prepared environment which allows children to develop important life skills.