As beneficial as it has been to millions and millions of kids over the past 100 years, there are some detractors of the Montessori method. After all, whenever something is popular there are always going to be some who try to find something wrong with it, whether they believe it or they’re just trying to make an interesting headline in an online article!
We could ignore the fact that the Montessori method has some out there who have problems with it, but then the ideas might stick in your head without having some sound counterpoints raised. Today we’re going to respond to some criticisms of the Montessori education.
“There’s Too Much Freedom in the Classroom”
This is by far the most common complaint that you’ll hear about a Montessori preschool and the early years in a Montessori learning center. Most of the time this criticism comes from those who have spent very little time in a Montessori environment, i.e. visitors who don’t understand how it works. Often the classroom might be right for the student, but it doesn’t mesh with learning style preferred by the parent or guardian. If they have come from a “sit down, face forward, memorize what the teacher says” environment, then they’re less likely to be understanding of Montessori’s method.
It’s true, our form of early childhood education can seem a bit foreign to people experiencing it for the first time. Teachers will set up learning spaces that have traditionally worked for students. Students are then free to go off and learn as they want, picking and choosing their interest, while a teacher observes. This “hands-off teacher” is one part that really riles a lot of people, but in fact the teacher is constantly watching how each student learns so that they can offer them what they need to excel.
If it seems disordered, that understandable. But instead of a child screaming because they’re fighting with another over a toy, it’s much more likely they’ll be screaming because they’re so excited about having figured something out cognitively. It’s the ultimate expression of “learning is fun.”
“Montessori Just Isn’t Right For Everyone”
It pains us to say this, but there is some truth to this. While we’d like to say that our form of teaching is perfect for every child, it’s simply not the case. In some circumstances, it’s just the opposite of what we mentioned above: the parent might be all for Montessori (and have attended a Montessori school themselves), while that particular method of learning simply isn’t what the child needs (and/or wants).
The good news is that, because of the way a teacher can tailor learning styles to each individual student, most children will have a much better chance of finding out the best way in which they learn as an individual. Instead of tailoring each child to some arbitrary learning method, why not tailor the learning methods to the child?
Here’s what we can say for sure. We believe that every child should be given the opportunity to experience Montessori to find out if it’s right for them. In most cases, they’ll find that it’s a much better start to their education.
“Children Are Made to Think Too Early”
There’s a very silly argument out there that suggests Montessori education makes a child think like adults too early in their lives. After all, shouldn’t kids be allowed to be kids as long as possible? Should they really be subjected to such an adult way of learning?
The problem with this Montessori critique is that it ignores the way that children are already learning, and always will, learn. The Montessori method takes advantage of the ways that children learn and puts it to the forefront. Children aren’t prevented from learning in other ways, because they’ll still be playing, exploring, and focusing on the basics they’ll need to know. But on top of that comes the Montessori teaching techniques that will not only help them in school but throughout their lives.
Just because a child is learning faster and more efficiently doesn’t mean they become some stoic Wednesday Addams sort of character. They’re the same kid, just more inquisitive. It just opens up their opportunities to learn even more and explore the subjects that they enjoy most.
“Shouldn’t We Be Seeing Immediate Results?”
In most every circumstance, parents are going to have to pay for preschool. We’re happy to say that Montessori preschool really doesn’t cost that much more than regular preschool. For this reason, people don’t tend to complain about Montessori daycare or preschool because they’d be paying for it anyway.
But when kids are kindergarten age, parents are now faced with a choice: send them to a public school that their tax dollars are already paying for, or spend additional funds and send them to a kindergarten at a private school. If they choose to pay for private school, then their expectations are suddenly exponential higher because they’re subconsciously (or even consciously) looking for a “return” on their money.
A Montessori learning center certainly does show a marked improvement in most students, giving them learning methods that they can use throughout their lives. But some parents expect their child to come out twice as smart as every one of their friends’ children who are in public kindergarten. Of course, that’s unrealistic. What they should be looking for is a child who is well rounded, knows how to learn and figure out problems on their own, and is socially active. Those are just a few of the advantages that our early education center can help with.
“Montessori Is Elitist”
What is it about Montessori that makes it seem elitist? Is it the simple fact that someone has to pay for it? That we’re a private school that isn’t religious? Maybe it’s just the Italian name!
There’s no doubt that our Montessori preschool is proud to be part of the Montessori education system. And yes, we most certainly do believe that Montessori is a better education method than most out there for most children. But we certainly don’t consider ourselves part of the elite.
It’s true, Montessori preschool and most Montessori schools out there cost money. But it’s certainly not just rich people who can afford them. Sometimes we have people who can write out a check for the year on the spot, while others are scraping by but are simply dedicated to the idea of starting their kids off with the best education available. Investing in education is the best investment you can make in a child, and if that means giving up an expensive vacation and going camping instead, that’s what some people choose. (Your kids will certainly be able to teach you a thing or two about nature after spending time outdoors at our Montessori learning center!)
When you’re considering Montessori education for your child, we believe it’s important for you to know all of the options available to you. If you had heard any of the criticisms mentioned above, we hope we’ve assuaged your fears a bit. After all, most children respond very positively to the environment at our early childhood education center, and we want as many children to get the best education possible. Of course, you’re sure to have more questions, and we’d love to answer them. Contact us to learn more about our time-tested methods!