Montessori or Waldorf

What is Montessori method in raising kids and why you should consider it for your current or future children.

I am sure if you searched online for “best ways to raise children” you will be bombarded with ads for books, courses and videos on how to do it, what is new and trendy.

That’s how the world works and we are tempted to use the “new smart ways” that we believe are researched and up to date with the times, disregarding the archaic theories/methods.

That is not just in raising children, you can see this in self-help books, or cooking recipes, they were all touched by the “new and cool”.

It is very important to choose a method that is not over stressing the child, pushes him/her forwards, is not damaging the mind and body and is somewhat close to your common sense.

Also very important is to stick with it when you started so the kid will be become confused and overwhelmed.

What is Montessori philosophy (education)

One of the best methods (researched, applied and confirmed) by people is from the famous Maria Montessori an Italian lady physician and pedagogue who treated and helped impaired kids and achieved above “normal” results.

What she did (in broad strokes) is guide and helped the children by allowing them and encouraging them to play with simple wooden blocks and shapes/forms. They were experiencing the world around them , the “real world” and doing what seem to us very practical stuff.

That build them motor skills and familiarity with the mechanics of “everything”. What is very important is that she showed them for example how to turn the key in the lock and then let them do it.

When they did it wrong she did not correct them but encouraged them to try again.
So a lot of manual activities and using hands to manipulate the environment.

When they mastered a skill they moved to the next and so on until they could do complex things with relative ease.

What about the curriculum, are there some rules?

  • Children are to be respected for their individuality.
  • Children have an intrinsic, or natural, motivation to learn and will do so if given the right resources and opportunities in the classroom.
  • The first six years of a child’s life are the most formative.
  • Adults in the classroom are merely facilitators and observers of learning; children have the ability to direct their own learning without interference from adults.
  • Rote memorization of material does not nurture a child’s individual skills and abilities and, in fact, inhibits, or reduces, them.
  • Emphasis is placed on early childhood development. During this period, children are exposed to Montessori methods and practices that are continued well into the primary years of school. It is during the early childhood period that children’s minds are the most adaptable to learning new information.

From birth to 3 years old

The foundations for the child’s future development are set during his/her first three years of life.
Montessori calls this period the one of a “spiritual embryo”, in which the child does in the psychological sphere what the embryo did in the physical sphere.

This process is achieved thanks to the child’s “absorbent mind”, which incorporates experiences, relations, emotions, images, language and culture through his/her senses and by the simple fact of living.
These life experiences shape his/her brain, forming networks or neurons that have the potential of staying with the person for all his/her life.

In this period from birth to 3 years old, the Montessori education concentrates in the development of speaking, coordinated movement and independence, which gives the child confidence, and allows him/her to discover his/her own potential and his/her place within a community.

From 3 to 6 years old

The classroom curriculum for children from 3 to 6 years old is divided into four working areas:

  1. Practical Life: These are activities that aim to the care of the person, of others and of the physical environment where they live in. These activities include tasks that are familiar to the child: washing, polishing, setting the table, arranging flowers, etc.

    They also include activities of “grace and courtesy”, which are part of all civilized people. Through these and other activities, children achieve coordination and control of movement and exploration of his/her surroundings.

    Children learn to complete a task from beginning to end, they develop their will, self-discipline, the capacity of concentration and self-confidence.
  2. Senzorial: Children at this age learn through senses more than through their intellect.

    The senzorial materials are tools for children to refine each of their senses. Each material isolates a specific quality: smell, size, weight, texture, flavor, color, etc.

    In this preschool age, when children are “bombarded” with senzorial information, these materials allow them to find order and meaning to the world, raising his/her capacity of perception, favoring observation and a sense of admiration for everything that surrounds him/her.
  3. Language: When the child enters an environment at age 3, they enrich the language that they had already acquired. They are capable of using it intelligently with precision and beauty, slowly realizing its properties.

    They learn to write, starting with their senses (hearing and touching), and as a natural consequence they learn to read. As an extension of language activities, children learn about geography, history, art and music.

    These areas help the child to know his/her surroundings and to realize the place the child occupies in this world.

    They teach him to respect and love for his/her environment, and they create a sense of solidarity with all humanity and his/her habitat.
  4. Mathematics: The materials help the child to learn and understand mathematical concepts when working with concrete materials that lead him/her intuitively to abstract concepts.

    They offer him/her senzorial impressions of the numbers and set the foundations for algebra and geometry.

From 6 to 12 years old

The classroom curriculum for children from 6 to 12 years old presents a historical, evolutionary and integrated vision of knowledge and human development.

It includes five Great Lessons or fundamental lessons from which specific studies of different areas will develop.

These lessons are designed to awaken imagination, curiosity and admiration for the creative and innovative capacity of human spirit.

Questions to ask a montessori teacher before joining

When you finally decide to go for a test lesson or open-doors session at a Montessori school/kindergarten it is good to be prepared and ready as it will influence your kids integration and overall education.

So arm yourself with some starter questions to give you an idea what to look for. It doesn’t matter if the teacher/director doesn’t have the answer on the spot (you can always email them the questions) but at least they will know you are serious.

  • How is my child best intellectually challenged and stimulated?
  • What kinds of academic interests or goals does my child have?
  • Does my child tend to learn better in groups or independently?
  • What are my child’s primary social needs and how are they best met?
  • What type of school environment is most likely to promote my child’s growth as a person?
  • Then you need to put some thought into the following:
  • Your essential must-haves, such as small class sizes or technological facilities.
  • School size: Are you looking for a small or large school or program?
  • Location: Are you looking for a school
  • Program duration: Are you looking for a school with a preschool and a secondary school program, where your child can stay for many years?
  • Whether your child has any special needs that require support in the classroom such as giftedness, a learning disability, autism spectrum disorder, behavioral problem, or physical disability. (To learn about the suitability of Montessori schools for these kinds of students, read our guide to Montessori and special needs.)
  • The importance you place on extracurricular activities, such as after school programs, sports, and clubs.

Montessori vs Waldorf (a detailed comparison)

Montessori schools focus on practical activities and Waldorf focus on imagination and virtual play.

The Similarities

  • Flexible curriculum: Neither Montessori nor Waldorf schools have a fixed curriculum. Kids can choose their own activities and tasks, with guidance from the teacher. They can also mostly work at their own speed. So they learn in their own tempo.
     
  • Decentralized learning: Montessori and Waldorf teachers rarely give whole-class lectures. Kids are free to move around the classroom, work independently or in groups, and pursue their interests. It is again freedom of not being part of the group and stay in line.
     
  • Holistic education: Both Montessori and Waldorf schools aim to educate the whole child. In addition to core academics, they place lots of emphasis on learning practical skills, developing the right character traits, and learning important values.
    Compared to “normal” schools where the kid’s opinions or interests are not listened to.
     
  • Concrete learning: Both the Montessori and Waldorf approach emphasize concrete learning. Children work with lots of hands-on material and learn important practical skills. Montessori is especially focused on concrete learning, at least in preschool and elementary school. It teaches hand coordination and motor skills.
     
  • Limited technology: Montessori and Waldorf schools both restrict the use of modern-day technology. Waldorf schools may be more strict about this, though.

The Differences

  • Academics: Montessori schools focus more on core academics, at least in preschool. Waldorf schools normally don’t introduce core academics, at least formally, until grade 1 or 2.
     
  • Work and play: Montessori schools favor work over play. Even in preschool, Montessori educators tend to discourage pretend play (or at least not encourage it). Waldorf schools, meanwhile, make pretend play and imaginative activities a major focus, especially in preschool.
     
  • The arts: Waldorf schools infuse art and music throughout the curriculum. Music, drama, dancing, the visual arts, and other artistic media, are woven into many lessons. Many Montessori schools, on the other hand, focus less on the arts, music, and imaginative activities.
     
  • Nature: Both Waldorf and Montessori schools educate kids about nature and have outdoor activities. Waldorf schools focus more on this, though.

Now lets get back to the small ones.

For the small children (up until 3 years old) it is so important to allow them to explore and try things because it creates the impression and vision of the world that will influence their decisions all their life (conscious or unconscious).

Another point in Montessori is to show your kids images of real animals or creatures and not cartoon representations which are not realistic at all but a caricature of the real thing. That is important for creating a solid baseline to really understand what is fiction and reality.

There are a lot of Facebook groups special for parents that want to raise their kids this way and I strongly suggest you join one.
Don’t worry if they try to promote to you some Montessori toys you can just build your own toys home from carton boxes for example just give to your kid household tools.

Example of Montessori activity can be :

  1. Play with wooden balls and try to stick them into a wooden box
  2. Mix colorful rise and let the child separate it
  3. Stack cubes in order of size and then reverse it
  4. Put things from the washing machine to drying machine and sort them afterwards.
  5. Peel fruits and arrange them by colors
  6. Brush the floor with a small broom
  7. Wash the mirrors with vinegar spray
  8. And much much more

This is really not something expensive for you or complicated or unusual, it represents the adult chores sized to small children and made fun. You have to encourage it and not force it.
It is not an obligation.

Maria Montessori quotes (that made an impact)

Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.

The greatest sign of success for a teacher… is to be able to say, ’The children are now working as if I did not exist.’

One test of the correctness of educational procedure is the happiness of the child.

We discovered that education is not something which the teacher does, but that it is a natural process which develops spontaneously in the human being.

Establishing lasting peace is the work of education; all politics can do is keep us out of war.

We teachers can only help the work going on, as servants wait upon a master.

The only language men ever speak perfectly is the one they learn in babyhood, when no one can teach them anything!

If help and salvation are to come, they can only come from the children, for the children are the makers of men.

The task of the educator lies in seeing that the child does not confound good with immobility and evil with activity.

Is Montessori fun?

It is fun and it should stay like this . Your kids love to imitate parents so you have an amazing role in showing your child how things are done. This way your child will not be isolated from life activities or compartmentalized and excluded from family member activities but be part of them.

You are not making them any favors by drowning their mind in Cartoons. They need to experience the world as it is and not the idolized version from the TV .

Another benefit is that kids have to focus for long time in order to do something and that is very good. TV by it’s fast paced images and action forces your brain to process flashes of images and kills your attention span.

The literature is out there if you are interested so I encourage you to make tour own opinion in the topic and read about it from people who dedicated their life in helping children get an awesome start in life

How much does Montessori school cost

The median annual tuition for Montessori schools starts at $3,003 for infants and toddlers (up to 6 hours a week), and it caps at around $10,671 for students aged 12 to 18

So future parents or active ones, I encourage you to search for a montessori school/kindergarten near you and think about your kids future and what you want to offer him/her. The first few years of life are the formative years and you really really want to give the best.

If it is expensive you can always ask for loan or work harder to get more money to pay for it. So think about it and do what you consider is best for your family.

Cheers and thank you for reading TheLongWalks

Vlad

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