Last month my son started attending preschool at a Montessori School in Seoul. He absolutely loves it. Although he initially had a bit of difficulty interacting with some children, because he likes to play a bit rough (he loves to "rough house"), he settled down and now is playing well with the other children. His two teachers use the Montessori Method developed by Maria Montessori in the early 1900’s to help him learn, a method to which he has adapted well. Originally developed to assist special needs children in Rome, the Montessori Method empowers children to learn at their own pace, teaching them personal responsibility, sensitivity to others, and progressively challenging curricula. Teachers act more as guides than instructors, helping children on a more of an ad hoc basis than does traditional education. While Montessori schoolchildren range in age from preschool to high school, the program is especially effective with younger children like my son. My son was already well on his way to knowing his numbers and alphabet, and he can spell some basic words, including his name. However, since he began attending a Montessori school, he has already learned to spell some complicated English words, including the long form of his first name. The teachers have also channeled and honed his artistic skills, helping him learn how to paint and draw with improved technique. He’s well on his way to making beautiful art.
I think that Montessori schools are an excellent educational option for preschool-aged children. I also believe it’s a good program for older children, although I don’t have firsthand experience with Montessori’s youth programs. Montessori schools can be expensive, which is a primary reason why most children do not attend these schools. However, if you have the money and the opportunity to enroll your child in a Montessori school, I highly recommend investigating this option. We plan to continue our son’s Montessori education when we’re back in the United States. Unfortunately, our next destination, Paraguay, does not have an English-language Montessori School. We’ll make do with what we can find in Asuncion.