To Montessori or Not To Montessori

… that is the question.

In the quest for the next stage of learning for my little Miss OhWaily I have been looking for activities to introduce to her, and hopefully inspire her to continue to be adventurous and inquisitive.
This led to the library and almost immediately to the books based on, or purporting to “be” Montessori.  There are quite a few.  Clearly it has become very trendy and, judging by the cost of Montessori products sold online, it has managed to squeeze a huge premium from parents on the back of that.

Saying that, having read two or three ‘do-it-at-home’ Montessori books, it has struck me as a good system to integrate into everyday life.  I don’t have difficulty with the concept of sensitive periods, or the three-step (or period) method of teaching since we instinctively have been doing that as it turns out. I love the idea of making the most of Miss OhWaily’s emerging skills and interests to encourage her to become more independent.  I also like a great number of the activities I have read about and am keen to introduce them.  So far we’ve only managed to do a sorting activity (buttons) and a pouring activity (rice) but whenever she gets the chance we are playing (working) with the buttons or pouring rice from jug to jug.

My real issue is whether a formal Montessori environment would be a good option for her part-time daycare (or playgroup as we call it).  Having continued to read about Montessori online, through websites and blogs, I’m not sure that I want to commit Miss OhWaily to a stricter version.  Our little girl is very boisterous and talkative and while I have no objection whatsoever to her learning manners (an indoor voice would be a wonderful thing) and patience and respect for others and their workspace, I am concerned that the emphasis placed on manners might mean that she loses her exuberance.

This is proving to be a puzzler for me.  I have two conflicting “wants” – I want her to learn good manners, increase her concentration and “work” independently on the one hand, and then on the other I want her to play and be exuberant, energetic and physically very competent.   From what I have read so far (and it is only a small amount) I haven’t managed to reconcile both of these aspects yet.

I’m sure a visit to a Montessori daycare or two will help me evaluate this issue.  But then, in addition to my own evaluations I will also need to understand Maria Montessori’s actual theory enough to see if the daycare is actually implementing that theory.

I guess what concerns me is that like all theories / philosophies / religions, you get a range of adherents.  Some are laid-back and loosely follow the “rules” while others do so strictly and rigidly.
I’m middle of the road in many respects, and I think that’s where my views on this sit too.  Not too loose, not too tight.  Just right.  (Do I sound like an advertisement? Hmm)

If anyone out there has has a good / bad / indifferent experience with this (or any other) system of pre-school education, I’d love to hear from you.  I understand that in the end I will need to decide if this way of doing things suits my daughter’s temperament and needs, but I’m the sort of person who likes to gather as much information as possible before drawing a final conclusion.

I’ve ordered “The Absorbent Mind” from the library, so I will continue the investigation and in the meantime I will continue to introduce some aspects of activity and home design into our daily life.

If you made it this far thanks for listening to my “thinking out loud”.  It’s nice to have this sounding board.

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