The following article expresses thoughts that were contributed by Kathy Shreves, a Montessori parent from Villa di Maria Montessori School, one of OakHaven’s sister schools. Kathy welcomes your questions or comments via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My name is Kathy Shreves and I am a parent at Villa di Maria Montessori School in Kirkwood. I have a son, Josh, who is 11 and a daughter, Caroline, who is 8. Anna Schwind, a fellow Montessori parent and the elementary school directress at OakHaven Montessori School, had asked me about my decision making process when considering Catholic education vs. Montessori. I am a committed and practicing Catholic and can say without a doubt I would a pick Montessori education over a Catholic one without reservation.
When I had my children I had every intention of placing them in Catholic schools as I was educated in the Catholic system for my entire 16 years of education. Once we started at Villa di Maria and I saw how Josh just blossomed I began to entertain the idea of staying for elementary. The longer we stayed the more he enjoyed school and the more obvious the educational rewards became. In the end we decided to commit to Montessori because of the fundamentals of its method.
The self directed learning really does foster a true love of learning, the repetition of lessons until mastered models success on a daily basis. As a family we have found the ability to work at your own pace epically rewarding. Caroline tends to pick things up more quickly while Josh needs several passes before it clicks. If they were in traditional school Caroline would be constantly bored and Josh would constantly be trying to catch up. The other true gift of Montessori that is not available in a traditional environment is the stability of the teachers. Having the luxury of keeping the same directress who knows my child’s learning and character traits year after year is invaluable. Caroline took 7 months to become truly comfortable in the Elementary room, if she had been in a traditional school she would have had to start completely over in the fall every year.
There are aspects of the Catholic education that I miss for my kids, attending mass together, morning prayer, dress uniform days, and celebrating the saints just to name a few. While I miss these things I feel the positives of Montessori far outweigh their absence. We supplement the kids’ faith formation with our parish’s PSR program, as well as other daily Catholic rituals. I know of one Villa family that prays the Rosary everyday on the way to school. And as our pastor likes to remind us frequently, the biggest job of Catholic education is done at home and I believe him. I know that we are able to give our family a sound Catholic foundation as well as the best education possible for each of them.
I could sing Montessori’s accolades for hours, but I won’t bore you. Eight years into our Montessori education adventure I would not change a thing and in fact have plans to continue thru 8th grade for both of the children. I wish you luck in your decision and would be happy to speak to you if you have any other questions or concerns.