Individualized Teaching is Compassionate Teaching at Small World Montessori School

They say love conquers all. They say love is patient and compassionate. As a Montessorian, I have known an unequivocal fact: Everyone learns differently. Some of us need written or visual content, while others absorb information through hands-on practice. For parents and educators, few things are more important than understanding each of our children’s learning styles. Traditional learning methods often focus on one or two styles only (verbal and logical). More open-minded philosophies like the Montessori method allow for a child to experiment and discover how they individually gain knowledge whether it be verbally, by practice, sight-and-touch, or a combination of several styles.

A growing array of early intervention models aimed toward addressing diverse learning needs and developmental challenges prior to Special Education Identification are gaining prominence in educational policy and practice. Such models are grounded in principles central to Montessori pedagogy, including mixed-age grouping, differentiation, and ongoing child study. In addition to honoring Montessori’s legacy of personalized, inclusive education, early intervention models offer promising approaches to building both institutional and individual instructional capacity, enabling Montessori educators to more effectively follow not just the theoretical child, but all children.

Educators of all persuasions including Montessorians are witnessing significant increases in the number of students with learning differences. In recent years, both researchers and practitioners have noted a rise in attentional issues, autism spectrum disorders, and sensory integration difficulties. Blame it on television, environmental toxins, aging parents, or more systematic identification, the rise in incidence crosses ethnic, racial, and economic lines. No matter how you slice it, children with diverse learning needs constitute a growing segment of the nation’s classrooms, and they are changing the face of schooling.

Because it is regarded by many as friendly to learning differences, parents often seek Montessori (and other independent) schools when their children demonstrate difficulty in “regular” school. Such students are served in Montessori schools, many without the benefit of formally mandated individualized education plans, would seem to lend credence to the oft-cited claim that Maria Montessori was herself a special educator and that her method constitutes the world’s first inclusion model of support services. To be sure, it is difficult to argue the historical resonance of this claim. Montessori launched her career working with special needs students under the influence of the writings of French psychologist Edouard Séguin, one of the patriarchs of special education. Likewise, her emphasis on hands-on, differentiated, self-paced learning guided by intensive and ongoing child study provides a template for best practice in both general and exceptional classrooms (Gresham, 2002; Lillard, 2005). Moreover, that Montessori environments provide opportunities for free movement, choice, and extended periods of deep concentration help explain what appears to be a lower than-average incidence of attention related difficulties, as these pillars of Montessori pedagogy also happen to be treatment strategies for ADHD (Pickering, 2003; Rief, 2008). Perhaps most importantly, Montessorians are trained to perceive every child as exceptional and, in response, to hold flexible, individualized instruction in the highest regard
(Cossentino, 2009).

At the Montessori School of Miramar, it is our fundamental goal to understand each student’s capacity. Our organization’s culture is based on compassion and grace. Families are provided all possible resources to ensure that each student’s learning style is fully utilized in the classroom community. We offer parent education courses, third party evaluation services, and direct one on one with the administration and teaching staff to ensure clear communication of a student’s development and progress. We invite all parents to visit our campus and to request a personalized tour for your child(ren). We look forward to our continued work with the community and thank the community for their support and trust over our tenure in the Miramar/Pembroke Pines area. It is our aim to provide an atmosphere that serves for the betterment of all children.

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