Ladies and Gentleman, I’m extremely excited about having one of the most amazing Montessori Teachers as a guest on the blog!
Teacher Bree has been Mia teacher for more than 2 years, I truly admire her passion for teaching, her love and patience towards her students is beyond expectations!
I 100% recommend her preschool located in White Rock, you can take a look at her 5-star ratings on Facebook and Google! The preschool is called ‘Buena Vista”.
This is all from me, I let you read her tips, thoughts, and experience about Montessori, enjoy!
“First let me start off by saying that I have volunteered, observed and worked in a variety of Montessori settings and there is a HUGE difference from one school to the next. I have seen some incredible Montessori environments where the Montessori principles are clearly being followed and the children are happy, independent and social and genuinely love to learn. I have also seen some terrible environments where the Montessori principles are clearly not being followed, the materials aren’t being used and the children are not benefitting at all. Just because the school is called a Montessori school doesn’t necessarily mean it is following the Montessori principles…..it comes downs to the teacher’s training and interpretation of the philosophy. As with any school, it really is the teachers who set the tone. Some Montessori schools are very strict and traditional in their approach while others are more progressive. For parents who are looking for a preschool for their child, it’s important that they meet the owner and teacher and often observe a class in action as the differences between environments are like night and day.
All three of my own children (19, 17 and 12 yrs) were in Montessori preschools for their foundation years (preschool and kindergarten) and it provided them with the most incredible foundation and instilled in each of them a sense of confidence and self-assurance as well as an insatiable love for learning! They all went on to French Immersion in the public system and have excelled in every aspect….they are respectful, kind, social, high achieving kids and I’m positive that their Montessori beginnings had a lot to do with it.” Bree
What is the Montessori method?
The Montessori method was developed in the early 1900’s by an Italian physician (Dr. Maria Montessori) and it is a comprehensive approach to working with children based upon careful research which is passed on to teachers through training. The Montessori Method of education is more than just a set of nicely designed materials and a few practical teaching techniques….the Montessori Method is a way of life! Itis a method of teaching that empowers young children and cultivates in each child a love for learning which in turn gives them the confidence to tackle any challenge that they are faced with. The Montessori Method is also about respect….children are taught to respect their classroom, the environment, their teachers and their peers. Children are taught to use the materials with respect and they are taught the importance of leaving each activity just as they found it so that it is neat and tidy for the next friend. A Montessori child is diligent about tidying up their own messes, rolling up their floor mats, tucking in their chairs and cleaning up their activities and it is wonderful to see them do so with an incredible sense of pride.
What are the pros /cons of Montessori education?
Hmmm, this a tough one as I don’t see any cons of a Montessori education providing it is a quality school and providing the teachers truly understand and believe in the power and value of the Montessori approach. As with any school, there are amazing Montessori schools, mediocre Montessori schools and not so good Montessori schools and the same goes for the teachers.
Montessori is well knowing for fostering a sense of independence and self-guided work. Would this be an issue in the future for the kids? As most work environments are more team-oriented
While Montessori is known for fostering independence and self-guided work, there is also a big emphasis on learning and working together…in my opinion the Montessori method of teaching provides students with the best of both worlds! I absolutely love the dynamic that can be observed in a quality Montessori environment as there are equal opportunities for independent and group activities. At the pre/kg level you see children choosing their own “work” from the shelves and the sense of concentration as they work with each activity is amazing! They learn to focus on the task at hand, they learn the value of completing a task and they take pride in cleaning up each activity so that it is ready for the next friend. Alternatively, if a child is wanting to work with a friend or to work on a collaborative project with their peers then there are plenty of opportunities for those types of activities as well. Montessori students learn to think for themselves as they move from concrete materials to abstract concepts and they do so with ease as the Montessori materials act as a catalyst to abstract thought. I love the way Montessori environment encourages students to learn to think together, in particular at the elementary level. By learning to think and work together, students learn that collaboration leads to ideas that can often surpass individual efforts. They learn different ways to approach problems as well as learning to value different perspectives. They develop creative problem-solving techniques because the environment is safe and the children feel free to take risks and experiment with ideas.
The Write up below is copied from AMS’s website (https://amshq.org/Montessori-Education/FAQs) but I opted to include it as it’s quite interesting:
There is a small but growing body of well-designed research comparing Montessori students to those in traditional schools. These suggest that in academic subjects, Montessori students perform as well as or better than their non-Montessori peers.
In one study, for example, children who had attended Montessori schools at the preschool and elementary levels earned higher scores in high school on standardized math and science tests. Another study
found that the essays of 12-year-old Montessori students were more creative and used more complex sentence structures than those produced by the non-Montessori group.
The research also shows Montessori students to have greater social and behavioral skills which would definitely translate over into a team oriented work environment. Montessori students demonstrate a greater
sense of fairness and justice, for example, and are more likely to choose positive responses for dealing with social dilemmas.
By less stringent measures, too, Montessori students seem to do quite well. Most Montessori schools report that their students are typically accepted into colleges of their choice. And manysuccessful
gradscite their years at Montessori when reflecting on important influences in their life.
For more information, see the “Overview of Research on Montessori Education”in our online Research Library.
What is the difference between a Montessori teacher and a play-based teacher?
Both Montessori teachers and play based teachers have specialized training in child development and there is actually quite an overlap between both methods of teaching. Both types of teachers work hard to develop the whole child and carefully observe each child to ensure their needs are being met. Although in a Montessori classroom we refer to the activities as “work” the children are essentially playing, only instead of using basic toys they are provided with the Montessori materials, Montessori inspired activities and real-life manipulatives such as whisks, eye droppers, measuring cups, spoons, beading, sewing, brooms & dustpans, tongs etc all of which refine a child’s fine motor skills and coordination. Some Montessori schools do have some activities that aren’t the traditional Montessori materials such as playmobile, lego etc but the children still follow the Montessori approach for working with each activity…….they can work at a floor mat by themselves or with a friend and when they are done they put everything back in the tray/basket, they roll up their floor mat and they put the activity and floor mat back in the same spot where each item was found.
Play Based Teacher/Play Based Environment:
-A play based teacher believes strongly in providing children with an environment where they can play with toys and learn through playing. The environment is often very busy and colourful and it can be overstimulating to many children whereas a Montessori classroom should be calm and neutral in colour. The materials in a Montessori environment should be natural (wood and wicker) and there should be very little plastic (if any) in a Montessori environment. Everything should be child-sized in a Montessori classroom and everything should be neat, orderly and beautiful.
-A play based teacher spends a lot of their time directing a play and guiding children through various play scenarios. It is often the teacher’s voice that stands out in a play based classroom whereas in a Montessori classroom the teacher’s voice is hardly heard which creates a more calm and peaceful environment. A play based teacher will help support children’s play with problem-solving, questioning, redirecting undesired behaviours, and enticing children into play themes.
-A play based classroom is usually much noisier and seems more chaotic whereas a Montessori environment is typically more calm and peaceful.
-A play based teacher recognizes that children learn best through an active, hands-on, playful environment. In a play based classroom, the teacher makes decisions about the daily schedule, the environment, the materials, interactions and activities based upon the strengths, needs, interests and input of the students in the classroom. A play based teacher is usually much more vocal in the classroom and leads the children through play scenarios
– Teachers are co-constructors, co-learners, and co-explorers with students, bringing an attitude of curiosity and openness to the classroom as demonstrated by their questions, interactions and interest in the discoveries in the classroom (indoors and outdoors) throughout the school year
Montessori Teacher/Montessori Environment:
-A Montessori teacher is typically Montessori trained so that they fully understand the philosophy and methodology and are able to provide lessons using the Montessori materials.
-A Montessori teacher carefully observes each child and provides lessons with the materials based on their needs, strengths and interests. These lessons can include Math, Language, Sensorial, Cultural, Practical Life.
-A Montessori teacher’s goal is to create an enriched learning environment in which the children can explore, discover and learn via the Montessori materials. If a child is in a sensitive period for learning their numbers and counting objects then a Montessori teacher will provide that child with all kinds of lessons, materials and activities to satisfy that need. Alternatively, if a child shows an interest in letters/sounds, the teacher will guide them towards the Montessori language materials and provide lessons that reinforce letter/sound recognition, phonemic awareness, word building and reading. It’s amazing how quickly a child learns when the teacher is in tune to their needs and sensitive periods!
-A Montessori teacher spends countless hours preparing the most beautiful, enticing environment filled with Montessori materials and interesting activities to inspire learning and discovery.
-A Montessori teacher is taught to follow a child’s lead and to be in tune with each child’s individual needs, strengths and abilities and to be constantly alert to the direction each child is heading and actively works to help them succeed.
-Montessori teachers are not the centre of attention in the classroom…..a Montessori teacher is usually soft-spoken and their focus is on children learning individually and in small groups. A Montessori teacher is more of a guide in the classroom as the focus should be on the child and their own self-discovery!
-A Montessori teacher has taken specialized training to learn how to present lessons using Montessori materials. The lessons are brief and precise and intended to intrigue the minds of children and encourage further practice and repetition. With younger children, a Montessori teacher is more active as her role is to demonstrate how to use the Montessori materials based on careful observation of each individual child. However, once the children know how to use the materials, then the teacher can take a step back and allow their love of learning to flourish.
-In an atmosphere of calm, order and joy, the Montessori teacher is there to help and encourage the children in all their efforts, allowing them to develop self-confidence and inner discipline. The children learn from their own discoveries and draw their own conclusions.
-Montessori teachers are the dynamic link between the children and the Prepared Environment. They systematically observe students to interpret their needs and modify the environment to meet the needs and interests of the children. They present clear, interesting and relevant lessons, model desirable behaviour and evaluate each child’s individual progress.
-Montessori teachers respect and protect their students’ independence and are supportive and encouraging without the use of rewards or punishments. They are peace educators and foster effective communication and they work hard to teach courteous behaviours and pro-social conflict resolution skills.
There are some rumours that Montessori pre-schoolers have some behaviour issues when they are moved to a regular school, is this true?
This is a tough question to answer because each Montessori school is so different and there are so many variables to take into consideration……each individual child’s personality, parental involvement, family dynamic, coping strategies, conflict resolution skills etc. And of course, a huge factor is the Montessori preschool that the child attended (since they are all so different) as well as the teachers he/she has had. If a preschooler has a caring and stable family dynamic and has been given a foundation in a Montessori environment that teaches and encourages respect, kindness, and tolerance and instils in them a love for learning there is no way that they will have behaviour issues when they are moved to a regular school.
What advice would you give to parents who are trying to find the right fit (School and method) for their kids?
Parents need to do their homework and research the schools in the area. It’s important that they meet the owner and teacher, tour the facility and often observe a class in action as the differences between environments are like night and day. If the school has reviews and testimonials take the time to read them and find out what other parents are saying. A Montessori environment is for every child providing it is a quality environment and providing the teachers have a genuine love and understanding of children. Over the years I have agreed to register children from all walks of life and backgrounds including children who have been expelled from another Montessori environment due to behaviour issues..it is soooo rewarding to see their behaviour turn around, to see their confidence grow and to be able to instil in them a love for learning and discovery. When a child feels loved, supported, accepted and challenged they are bound to flourish and thrive…..it takes a whole lot of work, time and patience but there is no better reward!
What is the best part of being a Montessori teacher?
I have been teaching since 1992 and I still wake up each day excited to get to work. I love being able to empower young children by giving them opportunities to do things by themselves…..giving a child the gift of independence is a beautiful thing and the look of pride on their little faces when they accomplish a task for the first time is incredible! I love the hands-on aspect of the Montessori materials…children learn through their senses, they learn by discovering and they develop a concrete understanding of even the most abstract concepts. Children are like sponges and they love to learn…I take so much pride in ensuring my classroom is enriched with all kinds of unique learning activities (over and above the traditional Montessori materials) and to see the joy in the children’s faces as they work with each activity is wonderful! If the environment is enriched young children are naturally inspired and motivated to learn and as a teacher that is so exciting. They can work at their own pace to learn their numbers and to truly understand the quantity associated with each number. They use the tactile sandpaper letters to learn their phonetic sounds and letter formation and then eventually they learn to read…and the best part—-there is no pressure on the child and the learning isn’t age based or based upon the teacher’s agenda. I love getting to follow each child’s lead and provide lessons based on their needs and interests. I love seeing a child persevere with a task and to all of a sudden get it. I love that I get to teach every day in an environment that encourages respectful behaviour and kindness to others and I love the multi-age aspect where the younger children learn from the older children and the older children love taking on a leadership role for the younger children. I find the calm, peaceful nature of a Montessori classroom creates a feeling of well being which is important for children and adults alike. I love the sense of order in a Montessori environment…everything has its place and the children take great pride in caring for their classroom and ensuring they leave each activity tidy for the next friend. I love seeing the delight on a child’s face when they sound out their first word or when they finally master a skill that they have been struggling with. I love the funny moments that happen on a daily basis, the spontaneous hugs, their amusing comments and the sense of wonder that goes hand in hand with being a preschooler.
Honestly, I could go on forever……I absolutely LOVE being a Montessori teacher and I can’t imagine teaching preschoolers any other way.
Athenas and Bree