By Aisling Farley, I AM Montessori
All over Australia, people in the Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) sector are screaming and pulling their hair out asking “Why Montessori?”
There are conversations about how Montessori is ruining the intake of mainstream childcare centres and services, and how every parent seems to be ceasing care to go to a Montessori childcare service.
Montessori is single-handedly ruining Australia’s ECEC sector, well ruining society’s ‘norm’.
Parents are choosing Montessori services because the philosophy aligns with how they parent, with how they believe education should be for their child, and because the method prepares their children for a world they don’t know about yet. Parents want what the ‘normal’ childcare sector can’t provide.
The Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) is heavily ‘Montessori aligned’, but it is not actually the same. Just because a childcare service aligns to the EYLF does not mean that both Montessori and mainstream childcare services are the same.
Montessori education is more than just child based learning. Montessori is highly detailed and takes hours of preparation, as well as months of in depth training to really understand how a classroom in a Montessori childcare service actually works. There is an incredible amount of detail behind everything that is put into a Montessori environment.
The Montessori classroom is not just about jumping on Pinterest, seeing something that has Montessori placed on it, making it up, putting it on your shelf and saying, “That’s Montessori.”
As an Educator in a Montessori childcare service, you are continually asking “Why?” “What is the purpose?” “Where is the control of error?” and “What is the isolated concept?”
From the size and type of jug used in a pouring activity, to the type of crayon chosen for an art tray, every little detail is questioned and fine-tuned so that it meets the development needs of each unique child.
Children in a Montessori classroom are observed with such skill, that only ongoing development and training can provide. Every tray of activities, and every presentation of a material, is created and designed for the children in that class, at that specific point in time.
The EYLF is a step in the right direction, but it’s not Montessori.
Three years ago I charted and predicted the Montessori movement in Australia, and it has continually met every expectation I have had. I was just a parent with a twelve month old child who saw what parents wanted, and yet no one in the ECEC sector was providing it fast enough.
The reason Montessori will ruin the ECEC sector as we know it, is because it’s not just about the first six years of life; it’s about life. Montessori education is a way of life that is taught in and outside of the four walls we traditionally know as a classroom.
The Montessori movement was here long before Prince George was enrolled at a Montessori Nursery School. The amount of Montessori Long Day Care centres with waitlists, and the amount of new Montessori childcare centres opening, proves that supply is coming for that demand. Those childcare centres and services that do not take the parents of today’s children seriously, will be left behind.
Out of all of the ‘alternative’ forms of education, Montessori has the strength to become mainstream due to its commonly recognised areas of Practical Life, Sensorial, Mathematics, Language and Culture. Every parent gets to a point in their child’s life where they can go with the grain of society, or go with their gut and choose what they believe in their heart is right for their child. This difficult decision is easier when you investigate Montessori and see the words ‘maths’ and ‘language,’ as these two areas are drilled into us by society as being extremely important.
This is why Montessori, rather than Reggio or Steiner, will become the philosophy of education that parents choose to form the foundations of their children’s education. It is more comfortable to be able to see those areas in the curriculum, even though the holistic approach to education is the key.
Just wait and see what the sector looks like in 24 months. Montessori is the future of education, and Maria Montessori saw it over a century ago.