If you’ve spent much time around a group of children at this curious, exploratory, emotional and perceptive age, you might think that high staff-to-toddler ratios are designed to reign in all that energy.
One of the biggest challenges parents have with Toddlers is teaching them to use the toilet. Some children take to it right away, others are still working on it when they arrive in preschool. No matter where your child is on the spectrum, the Montessori curriculum for Toddlers is heavily geared towards independent toileting.
If you could, would you send your children to the same school you attended as a child? I did not want to. Some of my earliest school memories are of feeling out of sync with what my teacher and the other kids wanted me to do during the school day. I didn’t like to sit still in my desk – I wanted to get up and move around. I learned things more quickly than some of my classmates, so I felt bored when the teacher repeatedly reviewed the same material for those kids that didn’t get it the first time.
Last year I wrote a blog post comparing the cost of Montessori to traditional preschools and daycare. A lot of readers clicked on that blog, so I figured the topic of childcare costs was worth revisiting. When I went to update my statistics from ChildCare Aware of America, I ended up reading the entire 2014 Parents and the High Cost of Child Care Report because of the wealth of information it included. You can download the full report but if you’re like me and feel like there’s never enough time to read all the things you want to, I’m going to summarize a few of the main points that spoke to me.
Kindergarten is a special time in a child’s Montessori education. After two full years, the Montessori preschool class is a familiar environment to these 5-year-olds. They know the daily routines inside and out; their teachers know them well and can readily work with their strengths and encourage them to take on challenges. They are conscious of being the oldest students in the room, having lived through two years of classroom transitions, starting when they were three. It is during this third year that you (and they) will witness the
Children in Montessori often learn to read at a very early age (although I will admit there was a point in time when I wondered if my son would EVER learn to read, but he did exactly when his teacher predicted he would.) They learn their numbers – not just counting but understanding that seven is one more than six and not just because it follows six. They begin to add and subtract, even multiply and divide, as early as kindergarten. They learn about leaves and leaf shapes. They learn about zoology, geometry and time. There seems to be almost no end of the surprises of what our children learn. It is ironic, however, that one of the most important lessons they learn in Montessori does not appear on a progress report. And yet once it’s learned, it’s a lesson that will make your child stand out for the rest of his or her life. The lesson: grace and courtesy.
A group of fellow WBMS parents and I were recently talking about our early experiences with WBMS and Montessori in general. Several of us admitted to each other that the first few months of our child’s time at WMBS was a bit rough, not with our child, but with our spouse, who originally had not been as committed as we were to the Montessori approach. I don't know about you, but my husband questioned whether Montessori was worth the money we spent on tuition for the most of our son's first year in Children's House.
Our family just recently returned from a fabulous week in Mexico. We chose the Yucatan Peninsula over other sunny vacation spots because my husband and I LOVE to snorkel and scuba dive, and Cozumel has some of the best reefs we’ve found. Diving is one of the activities that has bonded us over the years, and we have both been excited about introducing it to our kids when the time was right.
Kids Can Do More Than You Think
As we were preparing for the trip, my husband asked if I thought the kids were old enough yet to learn to snorkel. My first thought was, “Are you kidding me? Of course they are.” Since our son is only six and our daughter is only three my husband had his doubts. I pointed out that we have friends who have introduced children that young to other sports like skiing and snowboarding and it was a great experience for everyone. So at dinner one night a few weeks before we left, we asked the kids if they would like to learn to swim and dive like mommy and daddy. Both of their faces lit up, and I mean LIT UP as their eyes got big and their heads started to nod in tandem. My son who has been counting down the years to get scuba certified about flipped his lid.
At first I was taken aback at their enthusiasm. I mean, there was absolutely no hesitation, absolutely no fear of trying this completely new thing. Talking about it is one thing, but actually putting your face in the water and trusting the snorkel as a breathing apparatus is another. Many adults are uncomfortable with snorkels. But as I thought about it, I realized that I shouldn’t be surprised. We have always encouraged our children to be brave, to try new things, to explore new opportunities. In short, we encourage our children to be courageous.
Parents come to us at White Bear Montessori when they want an education for their children that is more than just academics. Montessori is a great way to accomplish this goal, but we recognize that it's not the only education philosophy that has merit. The progressive approaches that both Montessori and Waldorf offer young children have been tried and tested for almost 100 years but have very different educational philosophies. So what are the differences? I will walk you through both approaches so you can make a decision for yourself.