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We Choose D: All of The Above. A Series on Alternative Educational Theory. This Week: Montessori Method

I promised my friend Rebbecca I would do a big educational theory post, or rather, the theories I have looked into more....but I just can't fit them all into one post. So here is the first in the series!

I will do a simple breakdown of each alternative education method as I understand them and go from there. There are so many options out there from boarding school to unschool, public school to home school co-ops. As always, I am a firm believer in "Mamma knows best", just to say whatever works for your family is the best option for you and your children. This post is only to show what I've come across, am interested & passionate about, and what we thinking of maybe, 'planning' to do.... doing what we feel is right for each individual child in the child's season of life.

Montessori Method

I've done a lot of reading about Montessori method online and in books and learning what I can by gleaning bits and pieces by people who live a Montessori-influenced life. The Montessori motto is "Follow the Child". For the most basic of understanding, the child is given tools that they can use to learn what they want to learn, at their own pace as well. For example, in a Montessori school, there may be many "sets" of activities from daily life. One might be a tray with different sized (all child-sized, though) pitchers, and a bowl. The child practices pouring water from each pitcher into the bowl. Another activity might be gardening in their own garden. They dig the weeds, plant the seeds, water with their own can, and dig a hole with their own spade. There are 6 areas of the classroom and they are as follows: practical life, sensory, cultural,science, language, and mathematics.

A few resources

There are many Montessori schools in Lincoln, but one that comes to mind is a school outside of Lincoln that is located on a farm, Prairie Hill. The children feed the animals and care for them, eat the food they grow in their garden, etc.
Sew Liberated is a blog I follow that is written by a Montessori teacher turned work at home mom.
Montessori Services is the catalog & website I subscribe to when I am planning birthday, or Christmas presents, just in general trying to find something that I think Lukka would be interested in. For example, his gardening tools and his birthday "work tools" were found here.
I also find this to be very well priced.
Maria Montessori: founder.
Another source for tips and ideas that I have found for people who home school with a Montessori slant is the flickr group:Handmade Montessori Materials. This is a group where people post their projects they've made at home or the parents have made for child-led learning. You might even find me there...
See the Bug and I doing things the Montessori way!

  • Child-led. Instead of drilling a child each day in 6-7 subjects a day for an hour each, the child follows his/her natural learning style to what their current interest is. A teacher is only there to observe/direct the child to activities or learning experiences.

  • Child-sized. Lukka is fairly intensive in his learning to do things around the house like chores. When he works with an adult sized tool (for example, a large broom), he can't use it properly, and he gets very frustrated. He might start to get teary because he feels he can't do it right. Once we started implementing child-sized items, this attitude completely shifted! (He takes after me in that over-achiever, frustrated at myself if I can't figure something out right away unfortunately...I'm workin' on it...) He loves using his tools whether he is helping me rake with his own rake, or putting clean clothes in his own laundry basket. I can tell he is proud of his work!

  • Self-Discovery & Retention. When children learn by themselves, it is truly a magnificent thing! Children and adults are much more likely to retain information if they figure a problem out themselves, rather than just drilled, questioned, or made to sit and watch.


  • Wide Variation in Beliefs. I kind of see this as a con of any type of schooling plan, but the fact that some Montessori schools/teachers may not stress reading enough, sequencing, what have you. But, like all teachers, one will be passionate about one subject and therefore likely be drawn to teaching that more, etc.
  • Expense. They are expensive. Nuff' said!

Any questions? :) I hope you'll stick around for more of this series!


becklaw said…
interesting information :-) I still have no idea what i'll do with our kids. i've been playing around with the idea of homeschooling but we'll see. I'm excited to read more!
julie k said…
Sarah, if you are interested in checking out Prairie Hill firsthand, my neighbor, who is a teacher, would love to show you around. It's quite beautiful!
RT said…
I just learned that a friend used to teach at Prairie Hill, so I'll be picking her brain soon!

Thanks for the post. I look forward to reading more!
Sus said…
I like that you're doing this series. Does montessori work best with younger students - under 6th grade or so?
sus--I think this is a really good method for little kids...depending on their personality...just like anything, some kids might love it, some might not care at certainly works for L!

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