There are many opinions as well as misconceptions regarding the Montessori way of education. Some critics say that the classroom environment is unsupervised, with children acting up and doing whatever they want with little or no intervention.
“Montessori uses a multi-aged classroom,” explains Mr. Catlin. “Because the program adapts to each child, there is no rigid curriculum for each grade level, thus allowing the fluidity of a multi-age setting. This environment also allows older children to mentor younger children and for the younger ones to become motivated by seeing the more complicated works of older children.”
Most Montessori educators will agree that if a child is acting disruptively with the classroom materials, the teacher will intervene and encourage the child to use the materials appropriately.
Other concerns pertain to whether children educated under the Montessori system will be prepared for a possible transition to a school that provides a more traditional way of learning. Ms. Kalkus believes that this is entirely possible, since Montessori-educated children, “...tend to do very well when they transition to other schools. Mostly this is because they have learned how to learn. They are independent, resourceful, and socially secure. They tend to be excellent readers, and are very good at math as well.”
Words of Advice
“Parents who are interested in Montessori education should visit a school and observe a classroom. Watch to see if the children are moving independently and purposefully, and be sure that it is a child-centered, and not a teacher-centered environment. Most Montessori guides receive their certification from a MACTE (Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education) training program that is affiliated with either the AMI or the American Montessori Society (AMS),” says Mr. Catlin.
Ms. Kalkus agrees. “Parents should absolutely, without exception, visit the Montessori School they’re considering and observe. Schools can vary within a certain framework and the parent should be completely comfortable with their child’s school. A well-functioning class can be breathtaking to watch. Children learning, laughing, socializing, and helping each other speaks for itself.”
Further Information about Montessori Education
The Association Montessori International-USA (the U.S.-based counterpart of the Association Montessori Internationale)
410 Alexander Street
Rochester, New York 14607
Phone: (716) 461-5920
American Montessori Society
281 Park Avenue South, 6th Floor
New York, NY 10010-6102
North American Montessori Teaching Association
13693 Butternut Road
Burton, Ohio 44021