Montessori is more widely associated with elementary education than middle or high school. This is because people accept the Montessori approach for young children, but until fairly recently have failed to appreciate how well it works for older kids as well. When looking at a Montessori establishment for middle school children, there are some important aspects that should be considered.
Teacher to Student Ratio
Ideally, the Montessori method allows for one teacher per student. In practice, this is not a feasible goal for middle school children, but every effort is made to keep the ratio low. In a large Montessori classroom, one teaching instructor and one non-teaching aide will serve a maximum of 30 students, often far less. At the same time, teachers will focus attention on one child at a time, while the class as a whole pursues various self-instructive topics and courses.
Groupings and Interaction
Middle school children in a Montessori environment are encouraged to form spontaneous groups and interactions. Groupings tend to range over a 3 to 6 year age level, and the children are allowed to form their own interactive groupings inasmuch as the subject matter and individual lesson plans permit. Because children are encouraged to pursue subjects of their own choosing, these small groupings tend to form, dismantle, and reform over time as students progress from one area to another. The essential factor is that the children are working together as well as teaching one another.
Montessori Work Centers
Unlike a traditional classroom, the Montessori environment is arranged around subject areas. Children move about, from work area to another, learning at their own pace and moving forward. There is no definitive time limit that a child can spend on one particular subject, and during the course of the day, all subjects are studied at a wide variety of educational levels.
One of the failings of traditional education is the disconnect between subject matter and our day-to-day lives. In the Montessori environment, course subjects are integrated, and often presented in a hands-on approach. This helps children understand the connection between social studies and mathematics, for example, and allows a child who is particularly entranced by a subject to focus on that subject, integrating their subject’s studies into the subject of choice.
Older Montessori students learn to manage their own time and resources. Study goals are devised by the students themselves and form student-teacher contracts where the students have an obligation to meet the goals they work out with the teacher. This teaches responsibility along with other subject matter, and helps kids learn to see the interactions that different obligations will share in one’s life.
Montessori education is a unique learning method which shows a great deal of promise in helping children learn more, and learn faster than traditional teaching methods. Because the Montessori method is so different from conventional methods, parents may want to spend some time learning about the process and comparing it to conventional techniques. At Montessori School of Flagstaff Cedar Campus, we invite prospective students and parents to take a tour and visit our classrooms to see the Montessori method first hand. Getting an up-close look will show parents and students alike how Montessori education teaches the child as a whole.