Today, I would like to introduce Susan Lavoo, a four time Montessori Mom. She is going to chat with us about the choices we parents face when choosing schools for very young children. Susan enrolled all four of her children in Montessori schools between the years of 1971 and 1984, a time when Montessori programs were few and far between in this country. So, without further ado, let’s talk with Susan…
Q. How did you first hear of Montessori schools, and what made you choose Montessori?
A. My family had recently moved to Las Vegas from Toledo, Ohio. At the time, my two children were ages three and five, so the 5 year old was ready to start kindergarten. In Las Vegas, children starting kindergarten were required to take a school readiness test. After my five year old took this test, I was told that he was already past the kindergarten and first grade curriculum. They (the educators at the public school) recommended Montessori for him.
I enrolled him in the only Montessori school in Las Vegas (back then.) It was a wonderful school run by a woman from Salon, India who had trained to teach Montessori in Italy. My son was very happy there and enjoyed school very much.
My younger child was enrolled in a nearby preschool but was very unhappy and begged me not to make her go to school. Therefore, I enrolled her in Montessori as well. She loved it and thrived there, just as her older brother did.
Q. So you felt like the children were happier in Montessori. Did you think they learned as much as they would have in a traditional school?
A. I feel that they were directed and motivated and, in fact, learned way more because the learning came from within rather than an external source.
Q. What do you mean by “the learning came from within?”
A. Instead of being told to this or that at a specific time, or being treated as if they are all the same, children in Montessori are encouraged to follow their own interests and connect with themselves. They are inspired to follow their own inner lead and become self motivated to learn. The result is that the learning becomes joyful.
Q. You were clearly happy with your decision to enroll your children in Montessori. Was it a financial stress?
A. Yes, at the time, but well worth the efforts and sacrifices made for it.
Q. Later, you had two more children and you lived in Colorado by this time. Did you ever consider sending them to a traditional or other type of school?
A. No, I felt confident in the Montessori Method by then. So I found the schools in my area and enrolled them in a local program. Actually, I was not as pleased with the Colorado program because it was not as true to the Montessori philosophies as my earlier choices. They were regimented and sometimes interrupted the natural flow of, and enthusiasm about learning. Unfortunately, I didn’t have many choices back then. Today, there are so many more choices available.
Q. What would you tell parents of young children to look for in a good Montessori program?
A. I would tell them to look for the schools’ accreditation and the specific training of the teachers. I would ask how congruent their philosophies are to the original philosophies of Maria Montessori. And, I would advise them to find out for themselves what those original philosophies are.
Thought of the day…
Did you know that on-line training to teach the Montessori method yourself, costs less than sending one child to preschool for 2.5 months (based on the current average cost of preschool in the U.S.) For more information, click here.