There is a consistency to Montessori education that is remarkably facilitative, and its importance cannot be overstated.
Whereas children in other schools change teachers as they change grades, children in Montessori classrooms stay with the same teacher(s) for two to three years at a time. Montessori teachers know their children well, and the children know their teachers. The norms and expectations are clear, consistent and ever-present for three years. Not only do teachers and students bond, but this three-year relationship also leads to a bond between teachers and parents that is unparalleled in other schools.
Whereas each year in other schools presents students with new textbooks, new projects, new classroom spaces, Montessori classrooms provide a consistency of environment and materials. The unique Montessori learning materials in each classroom include at least the last rung of the previous level's curriculum, and they reach up to the curriculum of the next level. For example, the tactile materials (the curriculum, really) in the Lower Elementary classroom span learning tasks from the last year of Primary through the first year of Upper Elementary. This "overlap" facilitates the transitions on both ends of the child's experience.
In addition to the consistency of teachers, materials and curriculum, the gravy flowing over all of it is the philosophy. All of our teachers have been educated in an approach to education that makes intuitive sense and is demonstrably effective. Frequently, parents who enroll their children in a Montessori school do not know that the teachers in that school have, in addition to their undergraduate studies, undertaken a specific course of learning that can take a year or more to complete. Montessori teacher training includes direct instruction, an internship, the development of teaching albums, and a "live-in" component that finds the teacher in training, eating, sleeping and breathing Montessori at a training center for two to three summers in a row. This intensive training means that all of our teachers are grounded in an approach to education that believes children should be independent, self-directed, well-educated and develop a love of learning – learning for the sake of learning. This shared philosophy among teachers in a school benefits the child peerlessly.
Another aspect of Montessori teacher training that might not be commonly known is that each level is a different training. In other words, a Toddler teacher is not trained to teach Primary and a Primary teacher is not trained to teach Elementary. This is because, while there is a consistency to the teaching approach of Montessori education, the developmental stage of children in each of these three-year groupings is very different and requires the teacher to have a specific understanding of the developmental stage of their age group because the Montessori curriculum is specifically designed to exploit (in the best sense of the word) what the child is developmentally ready to learn in ways that are developmentally appropriate.
If your child has reached a point in their time at Aidan Montessori School that they are on the point of transitioning to the next level (i.e.: into Primary, into Lower Elementary or into Upper Elementary), please let us know if there is anything more that we can do to help you understand what your child's experience will be like at the next level. You have hopefully had the opportunity to attend one of our many events designed for this purpose, but if you have outstanding questions or would like to observe in a classroom at the next level, please contact our Director of Education Denise Merkel.
Because Maria Montessori was a doctor and a scientist, Montessori education is based on observation. Taking a fly-on-the-wall approach to an observation in any of our classrooms is an amazing experience and we encourage all parents to take time to see our classes in action. It is unlike the education that most of us experienced as children, and it is hard to imagine children being educated any other way, once one understands it for what it is. Seeing it in action will confirm all of your suspicions that your child is receiving an extraordinary education.
Head of Aidan Montessori School