Challenging Students the Montessori Way
Sometimes parents ask, “Is my child being challenged?” I’d like to answer a slightly differently-worded question: “How is my child being challenged?”
Unlike the traditional environment, our students are not starting on the same page at the same time with the same topic or subject. Each student constantly observed by the director. The director notices weakness and strengths of the ALL students. As directors, we modify daily lessons plans and activities to meet the multiple needs of students with different skills sets.
So, how do we do it?:
Take a difficult task and encourage them to try it several times. When I introduce a new concept, the student will state it is hard. However with many opportunities to practice task, I will eventually hear, “Ahhhh, I got it.” (Those four little words often put goosebumps on my arms.)
Encourage them to read a more difficult text without making them feel overwhelmed and exhausted by the end. I give it to them in spoonfuls—bite-sized mouthfuls—adjusted to the skills and abilities of each child.
Challenge them to think more deeply about the characters and the problems in the story than they ever thought possible. Directors constantly probe student with questions to make him or her think.
Give them a math problem and challenge them to find a way to solve it by using all of the strategies or materials that they know, not just one. This concepts allows them build a strong foundation with goals to move to more abstractly thinking.
Offer them opportunities to teach each other how to use those same strategies. One of the joys of Montessori is observing an older or younger student present a lesson he or she has mastered.
Practice how to be productive citizens in the classroom by giving meaningful responsibilities on how care for the classroom, materials and personal items.
Practice how to be respectful to peers, adults and him- or herself. There are so many opportunities to practice being respectful! Practicing this life skill now will create habits that create productive caring citizens.
Throughout all of this, directors are meeting students where they are and teaching them the skills they need to be successful to move the next level. Directors are not just teaching your students reading, writing, math, and introducing the cosmic curriculum, their goal is to develop and nurture a caring student to love learning.