For most parents, their child going to school for the first time can be a nerve-wracking experience. The guilt of leaving their child for the first time, the worry that they won’t make friends, and the panic that they are not ready for whatever they are learning. Typically, these feelings go away the first week & you and your child settle into a routine that will eventually become your life for the next 10-15 years. What happens when you need more than your public school has to offer? Do you wish that your child had the chance to experience an education that goes above and beyond the norm? More parents are looking at education in a new light and moving away from the antiquated idea of what a classroom should look and feel like.
The Montessori style of teaching came about when the first female Italian doctor, Maria Montessori studied children in schools and made the discovery that children learn more effectively in an environment that caters to their nature and individualism, rather than trying to fit all children into one box. Montessori schooling recognizes that each child is an individual with their own needs, learning capabilities, and strengths.
Here are five ways in which the Montessori curriculum differs from traditional schooling, and how it’s the perfect precursor to Project-Based Education:
1. Learning Through Experience
When a child learns a discipline like math in a Montessori school, that child is given tangible materials to with rather than being handed a sheet to memorize. The child experiences the different levels of math through touch and movement so they can engage in the experience rather than listening to a teacher speak. When they learn to read and write, they are given little letters to play with so that they can move around to make words and phrases. The Montessori homeschool curriculum follows the same teaching methods, where the parent or educator introduces subjects like reading or math by providing the child with materials and showing them how to use them, as the child goes on to practice these skills independently.
Children need to learn other kinds of lessons other than traditional math, science, and language. Montessori schools offer practical lessons that children will need to learn for everyday life. Lessons such as tying their shoes or clearing off a table are two examples of how young children learn practical skills. When the child is older, the practical skills become more complex, such as managing money, budgeting, and entrepreneurship.
Sensory learning is more commonly used for younger children and encourages them to learn with their senses. Everything in the classroom is designed around this principle and items that encourage the use of all the senses are placed in reachable areas.
3. Student-directed Learning
Within limits, the child has the freedom to work on what they want when they want. They are not allowed to play all day or distract their classmates, but they can choose where they want to work in the room. If a child pays more attention when she is lying on the floor, then she can take her books and go lie on the floor. The teacher is there to show the child the lesson, and then largely leaves them alone to learn at their own pace. Student-led learning has been shown to increase students’ creative potential and keep them more engaged and focused on what they are doing.
4. Educating the Whole Child
Montessori educators don’t just think of children as students who must be taught fundamentals like math, science, and geography but as individuals with physical, emotional, spiritual, and social needs. This is evident in some of the exercises you may find young children in a Montessori classroom doing, such as yoga and meditation.
5. Individualized Attention
No two kids are alike, and no two students are at the same level. If all children in a classroom have different academic needs, there should be individual lessons provided for each. The child then works independently for the rest of the day practicing the skills they were just taught. Similarly, with project-based education, students spend time on a project and learn valuable tools such as time management, problem-solving, and critical thinking. Project-based learning lets them build up the skills necessary to succeed in the real world.
How Project-based Education Prepares Kids for the Future
Finding the right educational institution for your child can be a challenge. Because of the interest-based learning nature of the school, a Sora experience will be different for everyone as project-based learning supports a forward-thinking & innovative future filled with growth opportunities. Project-based education is a powerful next step for students coming from a Montessori-style classroom environment.
One student could be starting a blog on homelessness in Atlanta while another could be conducting a science experiment comparing the effects of different fertilizers on certain plants. In some cases, students will be doing projects for businesses and companies — for example, a student that wanted to learn web development could help build a website for a local business. Their work could potentially have a real impact. Throughout their time in school, students slowly build up a portfolio of work that they can use for college applications, jobs, and more.