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Myths And Truths About Montessori

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A number of myths are in circulation when it comes to Montessori methods and what goes on in one of these early childhood learning centres. Here, we outline some of those myths and discuss the reality.

Myth 1: At a Montessori child care centre, children get to do whatever they want.

Fact: While Montessori learning allows children to be self-directed and to choose their learning activities, they don't just get to do what they want. The teacher has the role of observing the children and noticing when some guidance or teaching is necessary. For example, the teacher may notice that Jodie is having trouble tying her shoelaces, and will encourage her into activities to help her master this self-care skill. A teacher may notice that Simon has successfully learned the names, sounds and shapes of the letters and is now at the stage of combining the letters to make simple words. Children at a Montessori learning centre have to share materials and take turns with them, and they have to learn to be polite as they interact with others - which means that they can't do exactly what they want whenever they want: someone else may be using it.

Myth 2: Montessori is far too structured

Fact: As mentioned above, the children at a Montessori centre are able to select the activities they want to participate in. Although the teacher will direct children into appropriate and necessary activities (see above), children do get a lot of choice as to what they want to do. In a Montessori classroom, it is the environment that is structured: it is carefully set out so that children can do things for themselves, which includes tidying up what they've been using once they have completed an activity. Some structure is necessary for a child, as this gives them security and stability, and good manners and self-discipline (such as tidying up after yourself) are important life skills to help you get along with others.

Myth 3: Montessori schools are linked with the Catholic church

Fact: The founder of the movement, Maria Montessori, was brought up Catholic, as was common for conservative Italians in her day, but these learning methods are not attached to any specific religious organisation. While church-based schools and preschools are free to use Montessori methods if they wish, it is easy to find many non-religious Montessori centres if this is what you prefer.

Myth 4: Montessori is only for special needs children (either gifted or with learning difficulties).

Fact: Montessori education was first developed for use with mentally challenged children, but Maria Montessori soon saw that her methods could be applied to all children, regardless of their ability. Any child can benefit from Montessori education methods.

Myth 5: Children who go through Montessori education become wildly successful in life.

Fact: We would like to say that this is true and your child will be an artistic, intellectual and financial genius, but no system of education can do that!. This method of education will encourage your child to learn the skills and techniques that will allow them to become the person they were meant to be, and to reach their full potential as a balanced and productive member of society. Success is not a one-size-fits-all affair, and someone who is satisfied with their job, their friends and their family is just as likely to be happy (if not even more likely) than some celebrities.

Myth 6: Montessori methods doesn't allow for creativity

Fact: Many of the activities in a Montessori classroom allow children to express their ideas and feelings. Cutting, gluing, modelling, drawing and writing all allow children to be creative, as do music and movement - all of which you'll find at a good Montessori centre.
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