Just the other day I was sent this article about kindergarten in Finland with a note saying that it reminded the sender of Montessori education. I have read many articles about the Finnish education system and look to it as an example of what we can strive for in America’s education system. One of the most interesting things is that children are given ample opportunities to play and explore. They are acknowledged for who they are and presented with opportunities to learn in subtle ways that they can then hold onto and take further as their interest and ability allow. As children enter school learning is presented in playful and joyous ways. In fact, according to an old Finnish saying,”Those things you learn without joy you will forget easily.” Joy is an important aspect of learning in Finland.
At WMS our mission statement includes “the joyful discovery of self.” What we know and what we strive to do is engage children fully in learning and in making it their learning, not the teacher’s learning or the learning mandated by particular standards for a child of a particular age. We recognize that children come to us with various experiences and interests. We work to provide experiences that will allow them to learn with joy and to continue to ask questions and wonder what else there is to consider, grapple with and learn.
It is the space between activities that often leads to learning and gives one pause for thought. It is the time that is unscheduled and unplanned that gives our brains time to play with ideas. It is the Montessori three-hour work time that lays the foundation for learning – for Maria Montessori knew what others are coming to understand: Children are naturally born explorers who want to make sense of the world and will do so given an environment that is prepared for them and allows exploration and exposure to more than one teacher’s idea of learning. The materials, the prepared classrooms, the other students and ample time to explore provide the impetus to learn in a joyful manner. Joy is a critical component of learning if we want children to learn for life.
Montessori classrooms foster lifelong learners.