I was lucky. I was a trained and experienced Montessori teacher before I had my first child. The Montessori principles I had used in my teaching naturally became a part of my parenting philosophy.
But following those principles also helped my children develop qualities I valued deeply.
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Here are some of those qualities and how following Montessori principles helped my now-adult children develop them.
(Note: Please excuse the quality of the photos from when my children were growing up. They’ve been around for awhile!)
More than being successful, I wanted my children to be nice, kind people, both as children and adults. I had always appreciated the positive behavioral changes Montessori education brought about in children.
One of the main Montessori studies I used in my master’s dissertation was the 2006 study by Angeline Lillard and Nicole Else-Quest “Evaluating Montessori Education.” Social/behavioral measures of 5-year-old children showed that:
Montessori children were significantly more likely (43% versus 18% of responses) to use a higher level of reasoning by referring to justice or fairness. . . . Observations at the playground during recess indicated Montessori children were significantly more likely to be involved in positive shared peer play and significantly less likely to be involved in rough play that was ambiguous in intent (such as wrestling without smiling).
Social/behavioral measures of 12-year-old children showed that:
Montessori 12-year-olds were significantly more likely to choose the positive assertive response (for example, verbally expressing one’s hurt feelings to the host) [when read stories about social problems and asked to choose a response]. On a questionnaire regarding their feelings about school, Montessori children indicated having a greater sense of community, responding more positively to items such as, “Students in my class really care about each other” and “Students in this class treat each other with respect.”
Love of Learning
This was another quality that was essential to me. I’ve always valued learning, and I know that having a love of learning will help ensure success and enjoyment throughout life. If you’d like to see an awesome video about Montessori and love of learning, watch this video: Trevor Eissler “Montessori Madness!”
Competence and the Ability to be Successful
I wanted my children to have the skills necessary for success and the ability to tackle new tasks necessary for any career. Montessori education is known for helping individuals achieve their potential. Many famous people who were Montessori children (“Famous People Influenced by Montessori”) are known for their initiative, creativity, and self-confidence.
A Sense of Order
Montessori practical life activities especially help children develop a sense of order. In addition, Montessori environments are attractive and orderly and Montessori presentations follow an orderly series of steps, all of which helps the children internalize an external order.
Ability to Concentrate
Practical life activities help develop the ability to concentrate. Children also learn to concentrate by following their interests and sensitive periods, which leads to the repetition of activities and prolonged working at tasks – and the progressively longer ability to concentrate.
Similar to the ability to concentrate, Montessori education is wonderful at developing persistence. I wrote more about this in Help Your Child Develop Persistence by Using Montessori Principles. [Note: To read more about our science fair experience, read Homeschool Science Fair Fun.]
This is an essential Montessori concept. Again, practical life activities help children develop independence. The Montessori approach helps children to help themselves.
No Education Burn-Out
I didn’t want my children to experience what I did in my schooling. I was a high-achieving perfectionist who was burned out from tests and grades before I ever started college. Even though I received all As during my bachelor’s degree, it took me 12 years and 4 universities to complete my bachelor’s degree after burning out over and over again (and taking time off from college after attending one or two semesters at a time).
I appreciated that Montessori education doesn’t use tests and grades but relies on the internal motivation of the child.
Even though I didn’t want my children to burn out, I still wanted them to be academically successful. As a Montessori teacher (and in observing children in Montessori elementary schools), I’d seen children working happily at very high levels of achievement.
I’m happy to say that I see the qualities I hoped for in my children. As adults, Will (now 32) and Christina (now 27) are known as kind, successful individuals. They both have a better sense of order than I do, can concentrate well, and lived and functioned well independently before becoming happily married adults.
Will and Christina both loved their university experiences and were able to enjoy attending university full time straight through to graduation. They also both received straight As throughout their bachelor’s degrees. And they still love learning! Will and Christina are always busily involved in new learning and projects, never worrying about being bored.
So, without a doubt, I’m very happy I used Montessori principles in my parenting philosophy! 🙂
Learn more about my eBook Montessori at Home or School: How to. Teach Grace and Courtesy!
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