There is no question that the Montessori system can work for children with specific academic challenges. Students with ADHD, dyslexia, autism, dysgraphia, processing disorder, etc. have discovered that they are able to manage their specific challenge better in a Montessori system. There are a variety of reasons for this, which we will get into in another post. For now, though, we definitely acknowledge that the Montessori system can be very effective at working with different challenges--after all, this was how Maria Montessori first became aware of all that her system could do. She discovered, after working with children who were extremely learning delayed, that they were scoring as well as the typical students in the traditional school. The question she then asked was not, why are her students performing so well. It was, why aren’t the typical students performing better. And that is where we bust this myth.
As stated, the Montessori system can work beautifully for students who struggle with a learning challenge. But, it works even better for those who do not. In the Primary classroom, it is not atypical to see a three-year old child reading books and doing follow-up comprehension. If you came to observe, you might see four-year olds working on their multiplication tables; five-year olds adding and subtracting four-digit numbers and all of them building their vocabulary in science, geography, and cultural areas. They’ve already learned about the continents, the five classes of vertebrates, and the foundation of botany.
As the students progress through the Montessori system, the soaring continues. There are no barriers to learning so the students never experience what it’s like to be “done.” There is always more to discover. When we asked an upper elementary student who had joined us from the gifted program in her locally zoned school, what was the difference between her old school and MSEO, she responded that in her old school, she was pulled out for the gifted program once a week. But at MSEO, every single day was like being in the gifted program. There were hands-on science, history, and book projects; geometric constructions that challenged her to recall all previous lessons; and reading analysis that pushed her to truly understand how we construct sentences, why they work that way, and how we can become better writers because of that knowledge.
The true beauty of the Montessori system is in the journey and how it is different for every child. Each child comes to us having started taking their first steps at home or at their previous school. It is then up to us to show them how far they can travel along their their education voyage.