It may surprise you to know that Montessori does not mean the same thing to everyone and that there is a wide variety in the way the Montessori method is interpreted and implemented in different schools. There are certain standard things that should be a part of any school that calls itself a Montessori school. These include the standard materials developed by Maria Montessori in all the key areas of the classroom – Practical Life, Sensorial, Cultural Subjects, Language and Math. A calm and peaceful classroom environment, children working independently and at their own pace, and teachers trained in the Montessori methodology should also be key elements of any true Montessori school. However, as Montessori has grown in popularity, daycares and schools that have few or none of these features have included Montessori in their name.
Among schools that do have these features and utilize the methodology and materials, there are philosophical differences about the implementation of the methodology. Some schools interpret Maria Montessori’s teachings to mean that children should be completely free to choose what they do while at school. Others use the materials, but are very structured in what the children do, when, and for how long.
At Richmond Hill Montessori, we are in the middle of the Montessori spectrum. We believe that children learn most effectively when they are allowed to learn independently and at their own pace and are given a variety of tools with which to learn a concept. However, we do have a plan for each child’s development and provide enough structure to insure that the child is making progress in each key area and that new lessons are presented at the appropriate times. We also share Maria Montessori’s belief that children learn most effectively in a comfortable, warm home-like environment and our facility is designed and outfitted to provide that environment to our students.
Finally, we believe that a strong involvement of the parents in the child’s education is crucial to her academic and social development. We believe strongly that both formal conferences and informal daily interaction between parents and teachers is vital to this involvement. We encourage the parents and the teachers to discuss any problems or successes the student has at school or at home. In this way we can work as a team to help the student achieve his potential.