Is The Montessori Model A Force To Be Reckoned With?

Hello, Sugar plums! How y’all doing? Lately, I’ve been a bit confused about our choice of school for our toddler. Coming to Grenada, we left an amiable school in Nigeria that my daughter attended. In my opinion,  It was well structured and my daughter performed very well there. We were spoilt for choice when we had to choose a school for her in Grenada but before our arrival, I had done some research and my heart was set on the Montessori school here. Pretty excited to go ahead with admission plans, the Head of school made it pretty clear that Montessori teaching is quite different from the traditional teaching. And I nodded. I envisaged it being like the ‘Montessori teaching scheme’ in Nigeria. Then she added, “There are no tests nor homework given”. That felt a bit of a relief to hear but got me worried at the same time. I wish the world can do away with homework but homework are given to let you know the progress of your child and what they are doing. Well, the school term ended yesterday and it dawned on me; besides all the pretty crafts done almost everyday,

(A paper-rainbow blouse- One of the best crafts they guided her to make)

I couldn’t hold my girl accountable as there are no academic results, just a teacher’s General reports saying how good or  fair the child is doing so far. That is not what I’m used to, Period! Every Nigerian parent would agree that, that alone feels like wasted fees down the drain. I had to seek advice from some African parents who’s had their kids in such process and they said great things about the Montessori system and told me I needed not to fret. They emphasized that the Montessori scheme is a good scheme that takes you to the final destination (Academic excellence) but just with another route. I also recently saw the news, congratulating a graduate of this same Montessori school my daughter attends, for making the best common entrance result nationwide. So that gave me some comfort but is it strange that I need more oomph from this scheme?

Basically, Montessori is a teaching method created by a woman called Maria Montessori, many years ago. This method  focuses on a child learning at their own pace and not enforcing a syllabus. It’s about following the psychological growth process of the child. Giving them a sense of living in a community, independence, freedom within limits and carving their social behaviour.

( Classroom setting, styled to aid independence and community living )

It is not based on structured theoretical teaching syllabuses. Example; instead of forcing a child to learn “A for apple, B for ball”, they could just learn about the letter ‘H’ and make a project around it. Make the kids identify and pronounce its sound in words from everyday life. Another day they could tackle letter ‘B’ etc. They focus on the social behaviour of a child rather than the traditionally structured Academic schemes. Hence, ages 3 to 5 stay in same class and work as a community. The older ones teach the younger ones behavioural patterns carved out from frequent interaction. It’s a given that kids who follow this method are smarter and more eloquent in conversations, are more expressive and that eventually shows in academics, leaving them higher than their contemporaries who learned from the traditional structured learning scheme. Now, this is how best I can explain it without its definition sounding so Textbook-ish.

I know how competitive I was in primary school. So much, I rejoiced at the exit of my “stumbling block” to another school. This guy always took first position and made me take second. So I took first place without so much struggle when he left. Only to find out an ‘underdog’ was coming close to taking my crown. I made sure that didn’t happen because during recess, I’d go through his assessment book and calculate all his marks and made sure I was always above him. Lol. God! I was a case. Fast forward to my daughter’s era, they are telling me she can’t even come back with homework? Ahhh! Apostle must hear about this! I’ve been contemplating changing schools for her to the structured learning scheme we are used to but something tells me I just might be in a hurry. I mean, her communication skills have improved greatly but why am I still stuck on her coming home (with homework of to show me some four-letter words she needs to learn and probably read the two-times-two multiplication table?

Am I a bit impatient? Montessori parents, how did it go for you all at the start? Meanwhile, did you guys hear about the Nigerian student who poisoned his contender’s drinking water with acid and ethanol (stolen from the school’s chemistry laboratory) just because he was jealous about his classmate taking first position, and him second. He was caught, was reported and expelled. Can you imagine the length a child would go? I had this same competitive spirit but not this deadly. People are blaming his parents because they must have pressured him into taking first position (probably promised him a great summer holiday). Or was it just the devil at work? Here’s where the Montessori makes more sense because there’s no room for such head-on competition. That said, Is Montessori learning, a way to go? I’d really love to hear your thoughts on this.


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  • Reply
    Chidinma Othuke-Okpokoro
    June 30, 2017 at 11:59 pm

    This is a story I am very passionate about. The Montesori method ….this space is not even enough to share all my experiences and why I think every school in Nigeria should flow this path. A lot of schools in Nigeria are called Montessori schools but they do not even know the meaning of Montessori….they don’t know what it entails to run a Montessori school. Adding that name for them makes it sound posh or fancy. Nigerian parents are so fussy about having their kids write, count 1-1000 in one term and recite A-Z if their kids are able to do this then they are good. A parent took their 2 year old kid out of my school at the start of this academic session just because the child could not write or read….. A child who was not even able to make clear speeches. He took her out to a school where he felt she will read and write at age two…. The child does not need this…. We fuss over this a lot in Nigeria and hence the competition. A child has the potential to develop himself… He must be given the right environment to make this happen. A Montessori school must have the resources that the child needs to discover this potential. The teacher must be passive and not active. She must be an observer…. That is why homework’s are not given… The child chooses their own work…. He uses the materials in the montessori class to develop self skills, concentration, order and love for work
    The vertical grouping in a Montessori class helps to mould the child. The younger ones learn from the older ones. I have witnessed this happen and it’s absolutely beautiful. I can go on an on….. But I will end by saying its high time a movement for this form of education starts
    It must be incorporated in all schools especially in Nigeria. The problems of the world will be solved if all children went through the Montessori method of education. Call me for more clarifications girl… I am just a phone call away.
    This post left a smile on my face. Loved it.

    • Reply
      July 1, 2017 at 1:26 am

      Woohoo! This is just the affirmation I need and I am getting excited because I just remembered how awesome your kids relate with people. I’m happy for this. And yes, you are very correct. Most Nigerian ‘Montessori’ schools don’t even know what that is. To let go of the norm and join this exclusive method is really a Thanks for your wonderful comment. Xoxo

  • Reply
    July 9, 2017 at 4:42 pm

    Hello Bubu, I was skeptical initially too. I am also used to the traditional way of learning back home. It is very rewarding from the little experience I have. It teaches a child to focus on building herself or himself. You can join Montessori 101 on FB if you want to learn more…

    • Reply
      July 10, 2017 at 11:17 am

      Thanks alot Bisi. I’d do that. Thanks for visiting. XO

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