Montessori school versus homeschooling

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April 4, 2013

in Home schooling, Montessori

A few weeks ago, I visited a Montessori preschool to register my 2.5 year old daughter. I’ve been trying to get her into a lovely Montessori preschool with a large garden for a year, but as the waiting list wasn’t moving, I decided to visit another Montessori school in the area to try my luck. The headmistress showed me around the different rooms, where the 3 to 4 year olds were busy making pizza with two teachers, while the younger children were busy working with Montessori materials, in this case, most of them were also using kitchen utensils such as miniature cups and plates.

I suddenly had a very strange sensation that it made no sense to pay a school to familiarise my daughter with real-life kitchen items that she could just as well play with at home. You somehow think you send a child to school to learn things she wouldn’t easily learn at home, not so much to encounter the same items she plays with every day. She has been opening and emptying our kitchen drawers for well over a year now, opening and closing boxes, making milk foam for my cappuccino, stirring rice and pasta, making pizza with me. Did she really need to go to school to “learn” what a kitchen looks like and how to put up the laundry? How to pack a suitcase or prepare a sandwich? We do all of that at home.

They say children like to learn about real life and do the thing adults do so they can take part in the community, and this certainly makes sense, and I have observed that by my daughter’s behaviour at home. And if you are working full-time, it certainly seems to make sense for your children to be an an environment that is similar to what she is used to at home. But if you are staying at home anyway, I am not convinced it makes a lot of sense to send your child to a Montessori preschool. The materials might look more sophisticated at first sight, but they are simply a safe and miniature version of the every day items you have in your home anyway. It reminded me of the conflict Barbara Curtis relates in “Mommy, Teach Me”, which ultimately lead her to take her children out of the Montessori school to teach them at home.

To be honest, my daughter is actually starting Montessori school in September (the one I had wanted her to go to for a long time where we have finally been offered a space!). I have many other reasons for sending her – she is extremely social and starts asking me to leave the house and meet her friends from 7am onwards every day, as she loves playing with other children, we are not native English speakers at home and I want her to learn English properly before starting school, and I need to work, so there are many reasons. I will send her happily. But I still find it odd that Montessori schools teach activities like hanging the laundry or cooking to kids. Maybe for kids it is simply fun doing it, but am I the only one who finds it odd?

 

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