Teacher Appreciation : A Montessori Story

Montessori Country Day

Montessori Country Day School, SJ with school bag

Social media has me turned around.  According to the National PTA and the National Education Association, May 7-13th is Teacher Appreciation Week with Tuesday, May 9th being Teacher Appreciation Day.  I saw a lot of “appreciation” tweets and posts happening last week, and it’s all good, but I’m not one to be late to the party!  Nonetheless, it’s always a good time to honor teachers and recognize the lasting contributions they make to our lives.  #ThankATeacher

Now that I am a parent, I have developed a different relationship with teachers and am more grateful than ever for those who educate and influence a child’s life on a daily basis.

Our Montessori Introduction

One of the best decisions we ever made regarding our daughter, SJ, is to enroll her in our local Montessori Country Day School.  For us, it’s more than an education, a place to socialize or as some may consider a glorified, structured day-care for the pre-K set.  It’s become a way of life, and her school has become an extended family.

We enrolled SJ at 16 months in the Toddler program, gradually easing her in on a part-time basis.  Since day one, she ran inside, grabbed a coloring “job” from the shelves, sat down to a table and waved goodbye to me without even looking up as if to signal “go away now, Mom.  I’m good here.  I’m busy!”

I know not all first-day school experiences are this easy.  SJ was ready to start. Over time some teachers have informed us “SJ is the poster child for Montessori.”  She’s independent by nature, curious, observant and sensorial.  Everyday at drop-off I feel lucky that we found a perfect fit for her.

Montessori Methodology

Montessori represents an entirely different approach to traditional education. Learning is emphasized through all five senses, not just watching, listening and reading.  The love of learning is fostered and the concept of discovering on one’s own through trial and error is encouraged.  

Children learn at their own individual pace directed by their own interest, rather than everyone being taught the same lesson at once.  Classrooms are set up so various “jobs” are placed throughout the room for students to engage at their own will.  It’s the child and not the teacher who becomes the center of the classroom. At SJ’s school, there is circle time, library hour, French instruction and organized group activities.  But it’s a carefully managed and choreographed arrangement that allows for the child to discover and freely absorb on his or her own terms.

Montessori Hall of Fame

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Google’s founders Larry Page and Sergei Brin are successful Montessori alumni.  Also noteworthy, the Clark Montessori School in Cincinnati, Ohio, one of the few public secondary level Montessori schools, consistently has nearly 100% of its graduates attending college.  Perhaps Montessori is a methodology that is worth expanding and nurturing in a country where testing scores in math and science continue to dwindle?

In Gratitude

SJ comes home having learned a new life lesson everyday.  They practice yoga, take care of pets, do daily chores, create postcards to mail, speak in front of the class and learn to listen. I know she’s thriving and we try to mimic the Montessori style at home.

I admit that one of the best parts of becoming a parent of a school age child are all the other cool, interesting people you get to meet.  I look forward to school events and birthday parties because I get to visit with new friends.

Mostly, I am grateful for the teachers, helpers, floaters, librarian and staff who help run the Montessori Country Day school beautifully and effectively.  They are in the trenches daily instilling life skills, and nurturing good decision-making and problem-solving all the while molding our little one’s brain.  Parents play a big part too, but kids do listen and look up to teachers.  Thank you.  #ThankATeacher

For those of you interested in Montessori, stay tuned!  I had the privilege of interviewing a very special Montessori teacher from Amsterdam.  I’ve been following her online for years and she was gracious enough to take the time to answer some of my questions that you may find helpful.

Lastly, I want to express gratitude for the opportunity for us to even have education, something that’s not easily and freely bestowed upon everyone.  Something that needs to change.


8 thoughts on “Teacher Appreciation : A Montessori Story

  1. CAROL

    Bravo Montessori! Bravo Jen and well-said. I ditto your appreciation of Montessori’s influence and impact on young malleable lives.

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