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What Is Montessori Preschool? Finally, Montessori Explained

Elizabeth Weiss McGolerick is a freelance writer and editor who contributes regularly to SheKnows, MintLife, AOL, iVillage and other sites. In her articles, Elizabeth covers a variety of subjects including relationships, pregnancy, paren...

The term 'Montessori preschool' is thrown around a ton, but most people still aren't sure what it is

Is a Montessori preschool right for your child?

Parents unfamiliar with the Montessori teaching method may be inclined to believe that a classroom of this sort is chaotic. When planning to tour a Montessori preschool for her daughter, Christina Donaghy admits she had prepared herself to witness a rule-free, out-of-control classroom and cross the school off of the list. “Instead, after just five minutes, I fell in love and couldn't imagine Olive going to any other school. The room was organized and it was quiet! Each of the children was engaged in the projects they were working on,” she explains.

If your child is independent and enjoys playing on her own, can follow directions and has a long attention span, a Montessori preschool may be the right choice.

What is a Montessori preschool classroom like?

The term 'Montessori preschool' is thrown around a ton, but most people still aren't sure what it is
Image: Christina Donaghy/SheKnows

Many Montessori preschools have a range of ages learning together in one classroom (typically ages 3 to 6 for preschool) and children are encouraged to help each other learn. The goal is also to create a non-competitive learning community and encourage positive social interaction and cooperative learning.

“Montessori delivers an unshakable self-confidence and can-do attitude based on true life skills, a pro-work attitude, total ownership of learning and pride in real achievements,” says Larson.

Donaghy explains that the projects are available to the preschoolers on shelves. “If the child has never had a lesson on it then the teacher will go through it with them. Once they've had a lesson they may take that particular project down and work on it anytime. They can work alone or with a friend so they are still playing with their friends, but they are learning at the same time. When they’re finished with their ‘lesson,’ they clean it up and put everything back exactly where they got it from on the shelf. It's amazing,” she says.

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“At just 4 years old, Olive is already writing, reading, counting, tying her shoes, learning about the world, reciting the continents and so much more,” says Donaghy. “Olive has always had a great desire to learn, but I attribute a lot of it to the Montessori style. When they get to choose what they want to do they are more open to doing it.”

Beyond physical concepts, there are social and emotional learning advantages as well. “Respect. Sharing. Common courtesy. These are some of the many huge life skills that Montessori instills in children,” adds Donaghy.

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