Have you notice how trendy Montessori is? I think it’s interesting a schooling system developed in the early 1900’s to promote discovery in learning is so popular amongst parents, when there is a whole range of childcare philosophies out there. Some might liken it to an increase in popularity in Paleo diets or Yoga? Our stone age ancestors rocked the Paleo diet (yes, that pun was intended) and the yoga gurus of India lived and breathed their postures and breath work but both the yogi’s and our ancestors would probably be shocked and bemused to find their ways and philosophies reimagined. No one owns, or has protected the name ‘Paleo’ or ‘Yoga’, just like no one owns the ‘Montessori’ name, so it is hard for parents to tell which centres are true to the philosophy and which ones aren’t. Is it all in the marketing? Recently a new childcare database referred to themselves as Montessori 2.0 and that couldn’t have been further from the Montessori philosophy. On today’s blog we take a look into what Montessori is all about, and how it’s got it’s ‘trend’ on.
What is Montessori?
Montessori is an education philosophy and learning prescription model developed by Italian education scholar Maria Montessori in the early 1900’s. The philosophy fosters independence and allows children to self-direct their movement through class through prepared activities, exploring and discovering learning, rather than being ‘taught’. They work on their own material, collaborating with others organically and it encourages freedom of movement in a classroom setting.
How has Montessori got trendy?
The Early Education landscape has undergoing some major changes in the last 10 years. Formally known as ‘childcare’ sector it now has become regarded as the Early Education sector. Through a combination of a large body of evidence-based research on the outcomes of children participating in quality early childhood education, changes in social policy, women’s labour rates and income levels, early childhood education has been repositioned in many Western countries as pivotal to women’s participation in the workforce and the key to addressing cycles of poverty.
General Manager of Industry analyst, IBISWorld, Karen Dobie said, “childcare is by far the biggest expenditure for new parents, close to 50% of children aged up to four years use day-care services”. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, while customers of the industry are conditioned to expect low-cost care they are mostly driven by a centre’s reputation for quality care. With the deregulation of childcare and the increased regard for early education, parents have become discerning customers. They rely on the ‘word of mouth’ reputation of a centre, online presence, marketing and more recently parents are referencing the rating a centre receives via Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority who are responsible for promoting quality and continuous improvement in early childhood education and care and outside school hours care in Australia. They are responsible for rating Australian registered childcare through a National Quality Framework (NQF).
There is a supply issue for Montessori in most major capital cities in Australia as there are a limited number of centres which in turn limits the amount of childcare places available and this can add an element of ‘exclusivity’ not by design, but by conditions. But just recently there has been one large celebrity endorsement with the Royal family sending Prince George to a Montessori Childcare Centre called, Westacre, for children aged two to five.
We know it is popular because there are so many products are services trying to pass themselves off as ‘Montessori’. Take a look below to find out how you can choose the childcare that’s right for your child.
How do I know if Montessori is right for my child or is true to the philosophy?
Like all childcare choices you need to go and take a look around the setting yourself and make up your mind about whether it would suit your son or daughter. Ask around, google, check the ratings, check if it is affiliated with:https://montessori.org.au/schools, if you are in the UK www.montessorieducationuk.org. If you are in the U.S ask if the service is affiliated with the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI, with a U.S. branch office called AMI-USA) and the American Montessori Society (AMS). Observe the way the educators interact with yours and other children and go with your gut. For more information about choosing quality childcare visit our article on What is Quality Childcare?
“Montessori” can cover a very wide range of services, playgroups, childcare centres and preschools. It isn’t a protected word, so anyone can use it. You may find a variation between these services or methods that have been adopted and one Montessori childcare centre may not do things the same way as another local centre.
The Absorbent Mind, Maria Montessori
Starting from the beginning. This book helps parents understand the basics and explains the reasoning behind many of the Montessori practices.
How to Raise an Amazing Child The Montessori Way, Tim Seldin
For newbies, this is a great introduction to Montessori. It also contains activities you can try out at home.
Understanding Montessori: A Guide for Parents, Maren Schmidt
This book makes some of the terms and phrases more digestable for parents, breaking down the philosophy and practices to simple concepts.
Top Montessori Blogs
Pop in and visit some of the local and international bloggers on Montessori to learn more. Click on the titles below to visit the blogs
Share your Montessori experience?