The Bold Truth About Montessori
Each year, OakHaven offers a Parent Curriculum Exploration evening that brings together the “advanced” primary parents and elementary parents. We hold a parent panel discussion in which primary parents can ask anything they want of the elementary parents. Nothing is off-limits. Elementary parents are simply instructed to answer honestly.
While it is absolutely impossible for us to recreate the passion, enthusiasm, and spirit that fills the room, we'd like to at least share some of the thoughts and ideas that are expressed (these are all words paraphrased from parents - staff did not participate in the discussion).
Q: Since the Montessori curriculum is so different than that of traditional education, do you find it difficult to talk with your children about school or connect with what’s happening there?
Not at all. Actually it’s the exact opposite. The experience here is so much more authentic and natural that it’s much easier to talk with our kids about what’s happening at school.
I love that I don’t have to quiz my children on what they’re learning at school. We just talk about it like we do everything else in life.
My kids are excited to tell me what they’re learning at school and often want to continue their work at home. I don’t always know what they’re talking about, but I just ask questions, and they can tell me all about it. It’s nice for both of us.
Montessori is not just teaching them the facts, it’s giving them life-long skills.
It’s just real - every scenario and experience is real, which carries over and gives us a lot to talk about at home.
Q: What’s next? Where do we go when Montessori is ‘over’? Will our children be bored to tears?
It doesn’t matter. By this time they’re so in charge and self-directed that nothing can get in their way. They can take care of themselves and take responsibility for their own learning.
My child is already able to interpret the information he receives in a ‘big picture’ way.
Academically and socially we know that they will do great because of what they’re learning here.
Wherever they go, we know they will thrive because they now have the confidence to succeed anywhere.
Even now, I can drop off my first grader anywhere and he does great.
They are learning problem-solving skills - we’re not thinking for them.
Q: No homework? Really? How does that work?
We know families whose children are in traditional education, and they hate school, they are constantly fighting with their children about homework, and the kids are regularly very stressed out. We don’t have any of that.
Right now, as a culture, we correlate homework with a good education which is clearly inaccurate.
No homework = no pressure. When our kids get home from school, we can simply enjoy our time together without the stress and battle of getting their homework done.
Our goal is to instill a love of learning in our children. Homework teaches them to hate it.
Montessori focuses on each child’s strengths, allows them to develop these to their fullest, and helps them succeed in their areas of weakness as well. They’re getting a much better and richer education without it taking over our home life in negative ways.
The Montessori system is all about discovery - this is where traditional education fails and it tries to make up for its shortcomings with homework and tests.
Q: This is a huge financial investment. Is it worth it?
In our family, we make our decisions based on our children’s education. We would certainly have a totally different lifestyle without this (take vacations, have new cars, etc.), but it’s completely worth every penny. To us, their education now is much more important than a college fund. The three most important things they’re learning in Montessori are creativity, problem-solving, and confidence. Because of these skills they can transition anywhere and do great. This must start young - this can’t happen when they’re older.
A very important aspect to us is the OakHaven community - we all work together, we’re all invested parents. These are the types of families we want our children around.
Q: Do you have any other advice for us as we make this big decision (Montessori vs. traditional education)?
Taking the next step is scary - it’s not the norm. I was sitting in your shoes last year with all the same questions and doubts. I could not be happier with my decision to stay in Montessori; or, more confident that I made the right choice.
What helped me decide was the realization that in other systems my child is just going to get by - I don’t want my kids to just get by.
These conversations help us realize, on a whole new level, that we are not alone in our vision of OakHaven. We are not alone in our passion for Montessori. Many of you share our love for Montessori education and our vision for our children and their future. This is what we’ve worked for and dreamed about all along.