If there is one thing I have learned to value as a early childhood therapist it is the importance of early learning. The ideal that children under 6 need just as much preparation for the world that they live in as their older peers. When raising my older daughter (Kennedy) I have to admit my skills were minimum. Not only because I was 22 and this was my first child, but because generations before me didn't value education (work was more important). Staying at home wasn't an option and is still not because I value my worth in the work field and have entrepreneurship goals to obtain. So I did my best at exposing her and placing her in programs that I believed to be best for her learning, but I never felt confident in the choices I made. So I placed her in schools where I felt she would be safe, and would learn the norm. So naturally she transitioned into public school to get rid of the financial burden, and to do exactly it was that I did which was public schooling. Now I am not saying that Kennedy's education has been for nothing. She is smart and well rounded, but most of her genius comes from my husband and I being her first teachers. There were times I would get frustrated that they weren't challenging her enough, pushing her enough, and not seeing her for who she was. She often complains of being bored in class, and when addressing it with her teacher, I would learn that they were doing the best they could, but had other children to teach. I also was agitated by the lack of practical skill building, and character development. I understand that math and science are on the test, but could you teach my child how to be a leader!! And don't let me talk about the test, and the decrease of art programs. The list could go on and on. But I still persisted that it was okay because I was willing to go the extra mile at home. We are now considering switching her to Montessori. There are a few things to consider because she is close to middle school, and Montessori stops at 6th grade where we live. She also is very invested in her school and to switch to a totally different program would not only be challenging but would pull her away from her comfort zone. But as parents we can't allow our children to jade us, we have to make the best choices we know as adults and sometimes that comes with disappointment.
I had a lot of learning/growing to do as a parent and that's exactly what I did. Through maturity, education and training it has expanded my knowledge in the field of education. As I begin my journey to enroll Karter in preschool, I knew I wanted to be more diligent when choosing her education. I wanted my values from home to transfer to school. I wanted her teachers to bring pieces of home into the class. I wanted for her to be around a diverse group of peers, and have the ability to move at her own pace. I also wanted the program to value practical skills just as much as educational skills. And I wanted her to be challenged in a way that promoted independence. And when I thought that was impossible to find, I found Montessori.
What is the Montessori Method?
The Montessori Method of education, developed by Dr. Maria Montessori, is a child-centered educational approach based on scientific observations of children from birth to adulthood. Dr. Montessori’s Method has been time tested, with over 100 years of success in diverse cultures throughout the world.
It is a view of the child as one who is naturally eager for knowledge and capable of initiating learning in a supportive, thoughtfully prepared learning environment. It is an approach that values the human spirit and the development of the whole child—physical, social, emotional, cognitive.
The teacher, child, and environment create a learning triangle. The classroom is prepared by the teacher to encourage independence, freedom within limits, and a sense of order. The child, through individual choice, makes use of what the environment offers to develop itself, interacting with the teacher when support and/or guidance is needed.
Montessori students learn to think critically, work collaboratively, and act boldly.
Why I chose it?
- Fosters the growth of functional independence, task persistence and self-regulation
- Promotes social development through respectful, clear communication and safe, natural consequences
- Contains a large variety of materials for the refinement of sensory perception and the development of literacy and mathematical understanding
- Offer opportunities for imaginative exploration leading to confident, creative self-expression
- Allows parents to collaborate with teachers in their learning environment
- Understands the importance of character building and practical yet valuable skills
- Employs teachers who have been trained in Montessori teaching who understand the "whole" child concept (usually former public school teachers)
- Respects all cultures and diversity
- Groups peer of older and younger age together to promote leadership within the classroom
These are all things that I believe promote the well being of children. For any parent who wants more information on Montessori education please look in your local community. What's best for one is not best for all. So please be advised that this was something that was important to me, and that I share this experience as a flawed human.
Today was Karter's interview/observation to begin the process of enrollment. I was allowed to watch as her and the teacher explored the classroom, and begin to learn pieces of the Montessori curriculum. I was overwhelmingly surprised how fast she picked up on ques and direction from the teacher. The teacher was kind with her approach, but didn't hold back what she knew Karter could do. She was directive, but wasn't (hard to explain). From the first 15 minutes I could tell that this was the perfect program for Karter. In that moment I was so proud to be her Mama, and I was also so scared to let her go. Where did my breastfeeding baby go? I know there will be times that she has to find her way in the world without me. In this program I trust they will be an extension of my heart. Cheers to preschool!