What sets Montessori apart from unschooling? Learn how a curriculum fits in to this child-led approach to education.
Welcome to the second addition of my new series, “Readers Wonder.” In this series of posts, I address questions posed to me by my readers. Thanks for joining us!
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Catch up here 👉🏻 Question #1: “How do I deal with constant imaginary play?”
Today’s question: “How is Montessori different from unschooling?”
Follow the child means follow the child, right?
I don’t want to speak too much on behalf of unschooling, as I’m sure there are different interpretations and applications of that philosophy, and I don’t have personal experience with it.
But I see where this question comes from. There are a lot of similarities between Montessori and unschooling:
- Cultivate and follow the interests of the individual child
- Foster a love of learning
- The process of discovery is more important than the product of a test
There is one way, though, in which Montessori seems to differ from unschooling.
Montessori follows a defined curriculum.
Maria Montessori carefully observed many children over many years, across several continents, and designed the Montessori materials and lessons according to these observations. The Montessori curriculum was developed in response to the universal needs of the child.
Each child in a Montessori classroom receives the same lessons in the same order.
She works her way through the same lessons with the Golden Beads, and learns to write before learning to read.
But, each child receives those lessons at a different time, and sometimes in a different way.
The Montessori curriculum provides a structure within which the teacher can follow the child.
The Montessori method implements its curriculum differently than do other methods. Instead of providing an exact schedule of lessons, the Montessori curriculum provides an outline of lessons for the teacher to present to each child when that child is ready.
This allows for flexibility. There’s no getting “behind” with the Montessori curriculum.
This allows the teacher to follow the child, to wait for the child to be ready, to work with the child’s interests, and to respond to the unique needs and strengths of each child.
This recognizes the universal nature of the child, while honoring each child’s individuality.
Now, in Montessori homeschooling, this curriculum might look a little different than it does in the classroom.
The method as a whole relies on several different factors. One factor is the high children to adult ratio. It’s easier to guide a reluctant child through all the lessons when he sees his friends doing the same.
In a homeschooling environment, some of these factors are missing. It can take a little creativity to apply the Montessori method effectively.
Even so, the Montessori curriculum is there to guide homeschooling families on this journey.
Make Montessori work for your family
It can be a challenge to figure out the best way for your family to follow the Montessori curriculum.
I’m here to support you.
Get in touch with me to explore what you can do to implement the wisdom of Montessori in your life.
~ Jean Marie
P.S. Got any unschooling insights to share with us in the comments? I’d love to hear your thoughts!