Montessori Education – So Much More Than a Royal Fad
I read somewhere earlier in the year that Montessori nurseries all over the country were ringing off the hook after it was announced that Prince George would be attending his local Montessori from January 2016. I suppose it’s no surprise that that the Royal endorsement would have this effect – it happens with clothes, names, geography – the list goes on. But I have mixed emotions on the matter. The first is just a dash of smugness that I was sold on the Montessori ethos years before Prince George set foot through the doors of Westacre Montessori in Norfolk. My daughter’s name was on the list for the local and raved about local Montessori when she was just three months old (I have my wonderful and dependable neighbor to thank for that tip who, whilst I was in the blurry whirlwind of newborn-land, pointed me in the direction of the Montessori five minutes away from our house and told me in no uncertain terms that I better get Romilly’s name down quick. I owe her one – in September 2015 when she started, Romilly was number 22 of 24 children so we made it by the skin of our teeth). The smugness is mixed with some mild annoyance at the fad followers. The people who were calling their nearest Montessori to put their children’s names down. ‘If it’s good enough for Prince George…’ I remember a Montessori expert telling me once that the Montessori way works best when it’s followed at home. That way home and school life are synchronized and there is no conflict for the child and they become confident in their behaviours. There is so much more to Montessori than just a fashionable trend – it’s an ethos and way of living and you either believe in it or you don’t. I hope the fad followers can take this into consideration.
Long before we even had children, I remember being fascinated by the Montessori stories my husband’s aunt – a trained Montessori teacher – would tell us of toddlers carrying china plates for snack time. Rather than assume that to carry – and use – a china plate without dropping or damaging it would be a ridiculous expectation of a toddler aged child Montessorians believe that if taught to carry and use it properly and safely, then why shouldn’t we expect it of a child. That seemed genius to me at the time and I remember mentally logging Montessori for a time in the future which seemed such a long way off then…
I’m so pleased that we have had the opportunity to send Romilly to the local Montessori. She has just completed her first year and thanks to her birthday falling in November, she gets another year to flourish. In September last year, I gave my darling, shy, quiet in a group, two year old a kiss goodbye as I left her on her first day. On the last day of term in July, I took some time to reflect on how she has flourished in the Montessori environment. There have been some huge milestones to which I purely credit her Montessori teachers (writing her name in the same month she turned three is one such example) but in many ways, it is the gradual changes that often go unnoticed that are the most important – the responsibility to clear up after herself, the respect that she shows her peers when she asks if she can join in a game, the communication skills with peers and adults, the concentration to see a task through to the end, the confidence that comes with being allowed to play in the areas of her choice. I could go on and I look forward to comparing this list in a year’s time when she finishes up at the Montessori and prepares herself for school.
The logistics of Romilly attending the Montessori have at times been completely inconvenient and challenging. When I went back to work after Jasper, it would have been a hell of a lot easier – and cheaper – to put them both into a full day nursery (the Montessori Romilly attends is just three hours a day) until they started school. Without question, Montessori has been top of our childcare priorities and everything else has been arranged around it. One year in, I am so pleased that we persevered. We have a happy and confident child who is excited every day to go to Montessori. That is enough to tell me that we have made the right choices.