Curiosity, independence and responsibility are traits all parents want to see in their children, so selecting a like-minded school is a critical first step.
In a Montessori classroom, children work independently and at their own pace in a child-centered environment. Charles Towne Montessori, one of South Carolina’s oldest Montessori schools, serves children from 15 months to 12 years old, giving them a solid foundation for long-term educational success.
Why consider a Montessori education? Consider these three benefits of a Montessori learning environment:
1. Independence and confidence
Parents and educators know that for long-term success children must be able to take care of themselves, think independently and demonstrate initiative.
Those skills are the cornerstone of Montessori education – even starting with the toddlers, says Kevin O’Loughlin, head of school for Charles Towne Montessori.
Teachers offer just the right amount of assistance, walking that fine line between helping and standing aside, so children can complete a project or assignment on their own, he says.
“We put our students on the road to independence and that goes all the way through sixth grade when they graduate from elementary school,” O’Loughlin says.
Parents are happy to see that their child has independence and self-assuredness. “When they go to middle school, they aren’t overwhelmed by the number of teachers,” O’Loughlin says. “They are confident.”
At Montessori schools, children are placed in mixed-age classrooms so that the older ones are involved in helping, and modeling for, the younger children. That blend of ages fosters a sense of responsibility in the older children.
Children jump in to clean up and take care of their classroom, too. O’Loughlin says you can really see this take root in the elementary school age as the students learn to take responsibility for not only their class, but the entire school.
“When it’s time to put the recycling bins out, you’ll see elementary school students collecting the recyclables and putting them out on the curb,” O’Loughlin says. “They are taking care of their class pets and doing things around campus. Ultimately, our goal is to create adults who will be responsible not only for themselves, but will take responsibility for the environment around them.”
3. Educational consistency
The 110 students at Charles Towne Montessori are in the same class with the same teacher for three years. The teacher really gets to know the child and can work with each student’s strengths, and overcome weaknesses.
“When I was in the classroom, if I had a 5-year-old struggling with reading, I thought, ‘Who was this child’s teacher last year and what did they do?’ Oh, that was me,” O’Loughlin said. “You live with your own feedback. Teachers are constantly working on their skills and up their game every year.”
He admits that it’s often hard for parents to wrap their minds around the idea of mixing ages and keeping the same teacher year to year, but O’Loughlin points out how a second-grader who is gifted in math can work with fifth-graders. A child who is excelling or a child who is struggling isn’t singled out or pulled into another class, he says.
“Everybody is working at a different level, yet they’re all part of the same social unit,” he says.
O’Loughlin says the Montessori atmosphere really does work for 99 percent of children. The flexibility and freedom teachers have to tailor programs to individual students results in educational success now and independent and responsible adults in the future.
“Dr. Montessori said, ‘The hope is with the children,’” O’Loughlin notes. “If we allow them to become what they are meant to be, we have hope for the world.”
Parents interested in seeing the advantages of a whole-child approach to education can see it in person at Charles Towne Montessori, located at 56 Leinbach Drive in West Ashley. For more information or to schedule a tour, visit CharlesTowneMontessori.org or call (843) 571-1140.