The Montessori method has been so enormously successful that most people are familiar with its benefits for preschoolers. However, it is not as common to find a Montessori school that goes beyond early childhood into elementary, middle, and high school.
At Lake Montessori, we are enormously proud that we are able to provide the benefits of a Montessori education throughout the entirety of a child’s education. Whether you’re in search of a Montessori preschool in Leesburg or you wish to enroll your older child into our program, we can help.
In this article, we will go over what makes a Montessori elementary education different from traditional elementary school, and why that matters.
Traditional vs. Montessori Elementary School
If you enroll your child in a Montessori elementary school, they will likely have a very different experience than you did as a child. It can be difficult for parents to understand how the Montessori method translates into an education for children over 6 years old. Once you understand the key differences, however, it’s easy to see why the Montessori method has been so successful in developing curious, independent learners.
The Role of the Teacher
The traditional role of the teacher is to stand in front of the class and instruct the entire class at once. The expectation is that the entire class must work at the same pace. Standardized testing is used to ensure that all students conform to certain expectations. The main issue with this approach is that it expects the impossible: for every student to be learning at the same pace. In traditional classrooms, some students are bored because they are way ahead of the class, and some are struggling to keep up.
In contrast, the Montessori method acknowledges the inherent individuality of each student, and works with it, not against it. Instruction happens almost exclusively in small groups or on an individual level. After every lesson, students have the freedom to explore different activities independently or with a partner of choice. Their natural curiosity and desire to learn motivates them to truly engage with the material, so information is truly understood and their passion for learning is set for life. It also helps both the children who are excelling and the children who need extra assistance, because they are expected to learn at their own pace.
A Montessori classroom looks very different from a traditional classroom. Whereas a traditional classroom will rely on textbooks and worksheets to promote memorization of facts, children in a Montessori classroom are encouraged to use a wide variety of materials. This promotes problem solving and gives them a concrete, real-world strategy for learning materials. These materials are used in an elementary school setting as a way to help children understand how the world works. Children use these materials to explore topics from grammar to math to science. Learning is focused on what actually happens in life, rather than memorizing what adults tell them to.
In a traditional school environment, children shift from activity to activity constantly throughout the day. These consistent interruptions make it increasingly more difficult for students to focus long enough to develop an interest in their work. Ironically, this switching is an attempt to hold a child’s attention span, but it creates such mental fatigue that prevents them from being able to truly focus. In a Montessori environment, students are given two to three hour periods where children are given the freedom to truly understand and think about a topic.
A Montessori classroom looks very different than a traditional classroom because the Montessori method involves a mixed-age environment. By allowing students to interact with all different ages, it does much more to help them with socialization that splitting them up based on when they were born. Older students are given the opportunity to mentor, while younger students may learn more from their classmates with more experience.
Additionally, in traditional schooling, it’s typical for them to promote group activities in preschool and independent projects in elementary school. This goes against the natural inclination of children. when left to their own devices, most preschoolers will work by themselves, while elementary school children are developing the social skills necessary to work together. This is actually a sign that we look for that children are ready to move up — they are able to work collaboratively with a range of other students.
At Lake Montessori School, we are proud to be the leading provider of a Montessori education in Leesburg. Contact us today to enroll!