Discovering Montessori

March 12, 2011

One requirement Nathan's current school has of its parents is that we must attend various parent education sessions.

At first, Andrew and I were reluctant. Wasn't it enough that we were paying and sending our child to their school? Now we have to attend seminars and workshops as well?

Even after the first session we were convinced it would be a waste of time. We sat in a room with other parents, most of whom were praising the Montessori system saying how much their kid loves going to school and their lives have been changed forever. Some went further and said the state system was like prison and they would never go back.

While I don't know very much about the Australian school system, I do know that the public school system I went through in Toronto, while not perfect, wasn't as horrible as they made anything-other-than-Montessori out to be.

Because everyone else had their chance to give their personal opinions, I feel like I should weigh in as well. And because this is my blog, I can do whatever I want. How convenient.

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Why we chose Montessori then

So let's just take a little step back. We chose Montessori for Nathan as a means of socialization. He was 2.5 years old at the time and had very little opportunities to interact with other kids, much less kids his own age. Since we didn't need daycare at the time, it made more sense to find a school-type setting for him to learn while socializing.

Montessori came up because Andrew had attended when he was around the same age, and it has been credited with giving him a firm foundation in math and practical life skills, like pouring. Seeing as how Nathan has half of my math genes, he needed as firm a foundation in math as he could get. However, I think Andrew's pouring skills must have gone down the drain because… well, let's just say when I ask him to pour just a little bit of oil in the pan, it's almost always followed by some comment about how he "tried his best" and if he should try to pour some back into the jug.

Anyway, we saw that Montessori would give Nathan the freedom to explore things he was interested in and work at his own pace. Nathan has always been a very independent, self-motivated child and likes to do things his way so Montessori really fit with his personality.

Then, when we started looking for schools in Brisbane before our move, we knew we wanted Montessori to be an option. We had seen how much Nathan flourished in that environment in the short time he was there, and we wanted a system that would be familiar to him.

Why we choose Montessori now

We were given the opportunity to become students in a Montessori classroom for a 3-hour "work cycle" to experience learning the way our children would on a typical school day. I can't say I know too much about Montessori education beyond what I've read on Nathan's school websites, but those three hours gave me a little glimpse into what it is like.

It's a very enjoyable environment to be in. Learning is fun and doesn't feel like work at all. You can be challenged without the external pressure of achieving someone else's standards. If you don't want to do something at a certain time, you have the right to choose not to participate in something. You move at your own pace, according to your own interests and you will be supported. Not only does that mean you don't have to live up to someone else's standards, but you're also not limited by someone else's standards.

I find that so liberating.

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