What do you want to be when you grow up? This is a question children are all-too-familiar with hearing today. With the added pressure to “find a career you love so you never have to work a day in your life,” it can be difficult to determine what route young students should take in pursuit of the answers. The path is complex and undefined, and it’s going to vary for each individual.
“The rapidly changing work place requires that schools provide an environment that develops a student’s perseverance and self control,” says Donna Hilsenteger, principal at Country Garden Montessori Academy (CGMA) Private School.
Every child—every student—learns a little differently. We have our own ideal learning environment we prefer to work from. We learn at our own pace. And because of these inconsistencies, it’s impossible to find a “one-size-fits-all” approach to education. This is one reason why many parents are choosing to explore the Montessori landscape. “Montessori is a proven scientific approach to education, which follows the natural development of the child,” Hilsenteger explains.
It’s a program based on an individualized approach to learning, presenting students the occasion to pursue ideas and interact with their surroundings for uninterrupted blocks of time. “The curriculum creates opportunity for collaboration, communication, critical thinking and innovation, all of which helps the child to concentrate and gain greater confidence,” says Hilsenteger.
Montessori classrooms can include a mix of different ages covering up to three grades, and often offer minimal direct instruction by teachers. “We see the greater picture of education, which includes the ability to seamlessly meld curriculum from grade to grade, allowing students to remain academically challenged,” Hilsenteger says.
Kane Burg, principal at Aurora Montessori, stresses that Montessori supports a “love of life-long learning,” which “allows the opportunity to educate the whole child, including social, emotional, intellectual, academic, spiritual and physical [learning opportunities].”
But perhaps its most distinct feature is that Montessori isn’t confined by the precisions of public school curriculum guidelines, meaning it has its own system of training and accrediting teachers and schools. “All Montessori schools are self-regulated,” Burg says. “Each school is individually owned and operated, and the Montessori name can be used with or without accreditation.”
Many schools in fact choose not to pursue accreditation for their facility for a variety of reasons, opting instead to ensure that teachers hold individual accreditation and that they conduct their classrooms according to the philosophy of a Montessori education. The two central teacher accreditations are AMI (Association Montessori Internationale) and MACTE (Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education). Seeing these letters will provide a measure of assurance to parents that the teacher will follow the necessary guidelines in promoting the Montessori philosophy and its application to their developing child.
Certainly, there is no gift like the gift of an education; and this one will come with a price tag. Tuition fees vary depending on the program, but total about $15,000 a year. Many schools offer specialized payment plans to help offset the costs.
While Montessori advocates speak of its methods with vibrant enthusiasm, it’s not going to be for everyone. If you are considering pursuing a Montessori education for your child, Burg suggests visiting and interviewing multiple schools before deciding. Most essential, however, is an open-mind and willingness to learn about the Montessori philosophy. This is how you will ensure the best educational possibility for your child.
by Charlotte Ottaway
CGMA Private School
Aurora Montessori School
Church Street Montessori
The Canadian Council of Montessori Administrators
La Maison Montessori House