If ever I am asked about my childhood, I usually tell people that I was raised Montessori. Now this doesn’t necessarily mean that I spent my youth going through the different environments of a Montessori classroom. I did not. However, Montessori is so much more than just a curriculum taught inside a classroom. It truly is an entire set of beliefs and theories that extend way beyond academics, and are designed for setting children up for success later in life. Since my early days of elementary my mother has been a Montessori certified classroom instructor. Whether she intended to or not, the principles of the Montessori Method were being used throughout our home.
One of the beliefs that Montessori holds to is that children learn best when they can direct themselves to the work of their choice, rather than constantly being told what work to do. This allows the freedom to develop a sense of independence, and requires a certain amount of self-discipline which is necessary of any successful adult. It is not always easy as a mother to let your child do certain things for himself. However, in taking a step back you might be surprised to see what even the smallest child is capable of.
My family is an interesting case study in comparing a child who has been raised in a traditional school setting, where the emphasis is placed solely on academics, with a child who has been raised under the Montessori Method, where emphasis is more evenly focused on the whole wellness of the child. My older boy is getting ready to begin Kindergarten this fall. He is currently reading on a second grade level, which we are all very proud of. My younger boy, though just 10 months younger in age, is not anywhere near being able to read. However, he is able to carry out many practical life skills, such as self-care, getting himself dressed, groomed, and ready for school or bed, or helping with cooking and cleaning and other daily life activities, and does so with a sense of joy of accomplishment.
When you give a child the tools they are going to need to succeed in even the simplest aspects of life, you are preparing the confidence they will need to be a competent, respectful, and compassionate adult. And with a certain level of independence, children are free to learn from their mistakes, reflect on them, and move on with an open mind.