The Montessori unique educational philosophy, nurturing environment, trained teachers, and specially-created hands-on materials work beautifully for a child with special needs, whether with learning differences or physical disabilities. The special educational demands can be daunting, but it is gratifying teachers and parents see the miraculous results of the joy of learning and see advances in the child’s cognitive, physical, emotional, and social development.
How Grades Are Divided
Montessori schools normally divide children by age: 0-3 (toddler), 3-6 (preschool and kindergarten), 6-9 (lower elementary) and 9-12 (upper elementary). During ages 0-6, the learning is mostly child-directed based on the child’s choices and needs. The teacher’s goal is to “follow the child”, observe what the child is interested in, what the strengths and weaknesses are, and then presenting the proper materials. .
Some Classrooms are Multi-Aged
This gives that special child a chance to learn from older children and gives no feelings of being “held back” if it is found necessary to repeat a grade. Such children will often flourish when they can use their own individual speed and have the freedom to progress with their reading, writing, and research in a direction that they can handle.
Using the Materials and Making Friends
The enticing materials are hands-on, therapeutic, and engage all the senses. Since they slowly and lovingly teach one skill at a time, children with special needs are very encouraged to explore and learn at their own pace without the stress of grades, test scores, teasing, and competition from the other students. The children are encouraged to befriend and accept the special needs child.
Communication is Important
The teachers and the parents may meet more frequently than usual for conferences and to discuss how the child is progressing, what skills he or she has mastered, which ones are being worked on, and which ones still need to be learned. The parents may also want to come in and observe the child at different times to reassure themselves that the child is having a happy and educating experience.
Will Montessori Work?
Each child is different, and it all depends on the school’s curriculum, the teachers, the child, and the other children. If your child is benefiting in important ways, and especially if he or she loves to go there, it is worth trying to continue to make it work even if there are occasional setbacks. We invite you to come in and tour our Pleasanton Montessori School and see if the Montessori environment is right for you.