by Elena Arida
Picture a classroom with no desks or binders where children lead the activities. Such is the case at schools founded on the principles of the Montessori Method, a progressive approach to learning that has created a subcategory of alternative education in Westfield and the rest of America. Dr. Maria Montessori’s method has been time-tested with over 100 years of success in diverse cultures throughout the world, according to amshq.org.
“It’s brilliant. It is absolutely brilliant,” said Music Teacher Mr. Raymond Wojcik, whose daughter attends a Montessori school. Added Wojcik, “[the Montessori method] allows for a child to progress at his or her own rate in an area where they are most inclined and for which they receive guidance from the teachers in a student-led classroom.”
The learning environment cultivates individualization, freedom of choice, concentration, independence, problem solving abilities, social interaction, interdisciplinary breadth and competency in basic skills, according to montessoriconnections.com.According to Assistant Head of School at the Christopher Academy Elise Powell, the learning environment spans a range of age groups and enables a child to learn at his or her own pace using hands-on activities.
Added Wojcik: “The methodology is that if a child began in preschool they would find the same manipulatives from learning one-plus-one to algebra, and everything else in between, as far as math is concerned....It’s very concrete.”
Said Project ’79 Coordinator Mr. Peter Horn: “One of the things that I think is so commendable about [Montessori]’s approach is that she did her homework. Right before the dawn of the twentieth century she was looking at [questions such as] ‘Why do we do school in this way?’”
More and more parents choose to send their children to Montessori schools in the hopes that they will be fostered and nurtured into well-rounded contributors to the world, not just academics.