Montessori-style preschools are popular here in Houston, but what goes on in those classrooms?
As shown in the video above, here are some habits and practices that could come with your students from a Montessori preschool:
- they are self-directed; they choose what activities they will do and in what order
- they get up, move around, collect supplies, and clean up after themselves
- they talk and work with other students
- they work at tables about as much as they do on the floor
- they have ample access to manipulatives and real-life play
- they move at their own pace
And because of this, here are some difficulties you may encounter with a Montessori student transitioning to traditional K12 education:
- they may not automatically listen to you as the teacher
- they may balk at being asked to do math every morning at 10am when they would prefer to read first or color
- they may get out of their seats without asking permission
- they may talk to other students as they work because this is the model they are used to
- they may get restless confined to a desk most of the day
- they may reject a constant stream of individual worksheets that are either too easy or too difficult for them
On the plus side, here are some benefits to Montessori-trained kids:
- they may be more willing to try something new or unusual
- they may be outstanding organizers of class clean-up time
- they may be more flexible and willing to engage in group activities
- they may have better fine motor skills than their peers
Especially if you’re a K-2 teacher, ask parents about their child’s preschool experience! Issues that seem like defiance could be difficulty transitioning from a lot of freedom to a much more rigid schedule with much more emphasis on academics — let’s face it. How often do you see kids in traditional preschools washing the windows?!
If you’re up for it, equip your classroom with clipboards so students can complete worksheets at their desks, at a larger table, on a rug, or on beanbags. Allow some time every day where students get to choose what they want to do: more math, more reading, more music, etc.
This also is where self-paced, adaptive computer software can come in handy. A Montessori child who is behind in reading but ahead in math can work with basic phonemes and decoding skills in one program and practice addition with regrouping in another. This kind of individualized, at-his-own-pace approach may be more appealing to the student.