Q. Why is there such a non-competitive atmosphere in Montessori programs when we live in such a competitive world?
A. The emphasis in a Montessori class is on assisting and supporting children to develop and learn based on their own interests, desires, and timing. Attention is also paid to promoting collaborative social and educational relationships that enhance learning through shared ideas and insights. Thanks to the mixed age groups, children have the opportunity to be learners and teachers simultaneously. This allows a child to experience the joy of providing leadership to those who are younger and the satisfaction of receiving useful assistance from those who are older or more skilled.
In a Montessori program, children are on their own journey at their own pace toward maturity, acquisition of skills, and incorporation of knowledge. Using systems of rewards in the classroom distracts a child’s personal journey by intentionally directing his or her attention to the progress of other children. Ultimately, many studies have shown that competition inspired through the environment does little to build confidence or strengthen internal motivation and self-direction over the long-term. There certainly are situations where competetive activities can move children to greater efforts and improved skills, but as Maria Montessori stated, “The prize and the punishment are incentives towards unnatural or forced effort, and therefore we certainly cannot speak of the natural development of the child in connection with them.”
Q. Do children have difficulty transitioning to a public school after going to a Montessori school?
A. Moving from a Montessori school to another school setting is an issue often raised by parents and family members. Happily, the habits and skills a child develops in a Montessori class last a lifetime and stand a child in good stead no matter where they go. Montessori children tend to be adaptable, working well alone or with a group. They have solid decision-making skills, practical problem solving abilities, and generally manage their time well. Since children in a Montessori classroom are also encouraged to share ideas and discuss their work, fitting into new situations is made easier thanks to good communication skills.
Q. Are Montessori children successful later in life?
A. Research studies show that Montessori children are well prepared for later life academically, socially, and emotionally. In addition to scoring well on standardized tests, Montessori children are ranked above average on such criteria as following directions, turning in work on time, listening attentively, using basic skills, showing responsibility, asking provocative questions, showing enthusiasm for learning, and adapting to new situations.
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