Before enrolling your child in a day care center, particularly a Montessori school, it is important to determine that their approach to religion and spirituality aligns with your family's approach. Although Maria Montessori was a practicing Catholic and was concerned about developing morality and religion in children, the basis of the Montessori method is secular. Most Montessori day care centers in the United States also follow a secular model. However, many Montessori programs have a different approach to religion, morality, and spirituality than most public day care centers. Here are some aspects of religious, spiritual, and moral development that you might expect to see in a Montessori classroom.
An Open Exploration of the Culture of Various Religions
Although most Montessori schools do not follow a religious curriculum, many explore the cultural experience of various religions. This includes the food, songs, dances, and other traditions associated with religious holidays. For example, your child may be exposed to Christmas, Hanukkah, or Chinese New Year in their day care center. They may learn, in age appropriate ways, about the major holidays around the world.
If you live in a diverse area and the families with children enrolled at your day care center practice different religions, you or other parents may be invited into the classroom to help develop cultural experiences for the children. This allows them to ask questions about various religions and develop a basic understanding of people who practice various religions. It also encourages children to be tolerant and appreciative of the diversity around them.
While the cultural aspect of religion may be celebrated, the actual religious and moral teachings will usually not be emphasized. These are left to a later age, when the child naturally develops a sense of right and wrong or good and evil.
An Example of Morality
Although young children may not have an internal understanding of morality, it is important that they are treated with respect and fairness. The child-led Montessori approach, which respects the child's own development and boundaries allows, Montessori teachers to exhibit various moral behaviors in the classroom.
Morality, a sense of duty, and fairness may not be discussed in the Montessori classroom, but the layout of the classroom and the methods Montessori teachers use help a child develop internal limits and discipline.
The example of morality taught in Montessori classrooms tends to be based on basic social contracts and an internal sense of accomplishment rather than a specific religious code of morality.
While the Montessori method does not teach a single religion, it does help children develop several basic spiritual values. For example, Maria Montessori believed in the inherent goodness of children and her method seeks to encourage that goodness through an emphasis on kindness, joy, confidence and curiosity. These traits are taught through the child-led method, by encouraging children to pursue projects that interest them while operating in a larger social group.
Furthermore, the multiple ages and freedom of interaction in most Montessori schools encourage the development of social bonds and a basic understanding of social responsibility.
Montessori programs vary widely across the United States. Some programs may be associated with local churches or religious groups while others may take an approach to religion similar to public day care centers, where religion is not discussed. However, most centers fall somewhere in the center, where religion is celebrated as a part of culture but not taught in a moral or spiritual way. Because of the wide variance, it is important that you discuss your expectations regarding religious exposure with any center where you plan to enroll your child. This can help you make a decision about where to send your child and to prepare your child for topics they might encounter at day care. For more information, visit sites like http://miniapplemontessori.com or contact local daycare centers.