We started our Montessori journey in 1991 when my older son was 2 1/2 years old.  I walked into a Montessori school, they said, “Five mornings a week,” I laughed in their faces and walked out.  Children go to school forever!  Why would I want my child in school 5 mornings a week at 2??!?  Little did I know what we were missing.  Fortunately, the fates brought us back to Montessori only a year later and that was the beginning of a life journey that would change us forever.

Both our boys attended the Primary program.  We moved from state to state but found that the Montessori experience was virtually the same.  Then came Montessori elementary.  What an eye-opener for me and my husband.  Here we both thought that school is something you just do because you have to.  Yes, we were excelling students, but it was never fun to wake up in the morning on a school day.  For our sons, however, every day was a joy.  They couldn’t wait to get to school and they looked forward to Monday mornings because the weekends weren’t challenging enough!

Our oldest had the wonderful opportunity of staying in Montessori through 5th grade; our youngest only through 3rd—moving again!  But something interesting had already happened in both of them:  the spark and thirst for knowledge was already set.  They cruised through public school as every teacher’s pet–the child who pays attention, wants to ask (and answer) every question, wants to be challenged and lives up to expectations.  Were they perfect children?  Thankfully, no.  But what always struck me is that they were truly individuals who knew what was important to them and to their future.  Straight A’s were nice, but really, who cared?  Wasn’t it more important to know why something happened than the exact date it happened?  Does it matter who is the valedictorian of the class as long as I can get into the college of my choice?  Why do I need a fancy phone or car when all I really want to do is communicate with friends and get from point A to point B?   Our sons could stand in front of 500 people and give a speech or sing a solo because they had confidence in themselves.  They chose to hang out with adults, not because they didn’t have friends, but because they were peers.

So at 21 and 23 are they successful?  Well, let’s just say that every moment of doubt as a parent has been relieved and then some.  For those parents who worry about Montessori students being able to test well–worry not.  Younger son is on a full-ride scholarship (tuition, room, board, etc.) because he tested well.  The older one graduated from college with honors and was the only business major with a job on graduation day.  Why?  Because he learned in Montessori that failure is just part of life.  When one company said, “No thanks,” he just moved on.  He also learned that there is more than one way to approach a problem.  Online applications getting you nowhere?  Start a blog, create a website, turn a marketing newsletter into a method to share information about your profession.  Talk to everyone you meet and actually listen to what they are saying.   Does Montessori work?  OH YES!

And for those of you who are parents, even your lives can be changed.  In mid-life, I changed careers and became a Montessori teacher.  Now I run a school and have the wonderful opportunity to help other families discover the wonder of Montessori.   I have had the chance to meet some truly amazing individuals who are determined to make a difference for children everywhere.  Get involved in your Montessori school and see how your own life changes.

We all look back on our experiences over the last 20 years and think, “Thank you, Maria Montessori!”  We have been blessed with your vision and our lives will never be the same.

Donna