What the Montessori Method Does for Special Needs Children

Parenting isn’t easy, and there are obstacles to overcome when raising a child with special needs. Thought getting your youngster to eat veggies was a hard-won battle? Just wait until it’s time to choose a school.

Depending on the type and extent of the special needs your child has, they may need accommodations ranging from extra time to take exams and finish assignments to having someone who understands their disorder accompany your son or daughter during segments of the day that would be stressful without a companion.

What Is the Montessori Method

Like most parents, you probably take the process of choosing the right school as serious as other life milestones, like picking out a better car once you traded in your old clunker or deciding whether to accept a job that required a bold cross-country move.

During your education-related research, perhaps you’ve seen a few things that make you want to learn more about the Montessori Method.

Developed by Maria Montessori, an Italian doctor and educator, this way of learning is a child-centered approach that emphasizes natural curiosity, holistic personal development and supportive environments.

You’ll find slight variations of these principles depending on the teacher and school, but if a learning facility strays too far or doesn’t uphold them, it’s not a provider of the Montessori Method.

Why the Montessori Method Might Work for Your Special Needs Child

Before making a commitment for your child to attend a school, it’s wise to spend an ample amount of one-on-one time with teachers, administrative staff and other individuals. They’ll potentially be involved in years of your child’s educational future.

Several Montessori curriculum and learning environment components make a Montessori school more appealing and practical for a child with special needs:

  • Promotion of Interactive Learning: If your child often fidgets through story time at home, they may not demonstrate more patience when it comes to traditional schooling. At a Montessori school, teachers use what’s referred to as the “discovery model.” It urges students to learn by interacting with others and their environments instead of through formal lectures or presentations.
  • Encouragement of Movement: Kids can also move freely around the classroom. In a case where a child has a physical disability, such as cerebral palsy, that may become exacerbated due to being sedentary, they’ll benefit from being able to walk or crawl around to stretch their tight muscles and improve circulation.Similarly, instead of perching in the front of the classroom behind desks or beside blackboards, teachers stay in motion. They interact with and assess children while displaying genuine, nurturing attitudes.
  • Accommodation of Emotional or Social Difficulties: Consider the Montessori Method if your child has emotional-related special needs, like low self-esteem. Teachers introduce lessons in stages, beginning with basic concepts that progress to more advanced ones. Perhaps your child has already developed a dislike of learning because they had bad experiences in a traditional school setting that cemented their perceptions about being less capable or intelligent as their classmates. Time spent at a Montessori school could reduce those destructive, conditioned beliefs and equip your child to move past them with confidence.The same is accurate if your child has social anxiety. Classmates learn from each other in mixed-age classrooms. That arrangement may cause your shy kid to become more relaxed over time and realize there is nothing to fear from being sociable.
  • Instruction for Learning-Disabilities: Children in a Montessori classroom learn at a self-paced approach. A school day is often split into three-hour blocks representing work periods, but beyond that, learners pick from various activities instead of enduring pre-planned tasks with no alternatives. The independently driven way of learning is often well suited to kids with learning disabilities.

Why Individuality Is an Asset

Parenting a special needs child can sometimes be harder than you anticipated, because the experience may not relate to what fellow dads and moms in your community have tackled. There’s a good chance your child has felt the same way from time to time, especially if their needs are visible to others.

Nothing is quite as soul crushing as a child or parent hearing about something a peer did and thinking, “I’m so different, I just can’t relate.” In a learning environment defined by the Montessori Method, the unique traits that make kids stand out are prized as beautiful, valuable characteristics.

It’s common to feel apprehensive about your child being able to fit in with others. What parent hasn’t? Fortunately, the possibility that your kid might have trouble making friends is less likely at a Montessori school.

Remember, in that setting, your child will be around children of various ages. Also, since teachers look upon individuality favorably and encourage students to follow suit, your child will quickly understand there’s no such thing as a social “mold” that requires conformity.

How the Montessori Method Affects Children With ADHD

After everything you’ve just read, you may already have decided that the Montessori Method is a marvelous match for your child. However, if they have ADHD, it may not be such a good fit.

Because of the loosely structured, highly stimulating classrooms, the Montessori Method could prove too distracting for a child who has trouble focusing. The fact that kids can also move around throughout the school day might make it nearly impossible for children with ADHD diagnoses to finish tasks.

Hopefully, what you’ve just read provided some nourishing food for thought as you mull over two all-important questions — how and where your child should receive their education?

About Jennifer Landis

Jennifer is a TiP Team author, writer, blogger, foodie, yogi, runner, and mama. She loves drinking tea, deadlifts, and dark chocolate. You can find more from Jennifer at her blog, Mindfulness Mama, or on Twitter @JenniferELandis

1 comment on “What the Montessori Method Does for Special Needs Children

  1. Hey Jennifer, thanks for the great write-up on the Montessori method. For most special needs children, I can see this being a phenomenal learning environment.

    However, just as you said, when it comes to ADHD inflicted children I could see this becoming a problem. I think that the bigger issue at hand is that all too often special needs diagnoses such as Autism and Asperger’s, often have underlying ADHD components that can be exacerbated by excessive room stimuli.

    Perhaps there’s a happy medium blend between traditional low stimuli education that could also be incorporated into the Montessori method.
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