It has long been a desire of my heart to come to know more about Montessori education. I studied elementary education in college, but only two sentences were mentioned about Dr. Maria Montessori and her work in all of my coursework. Those two sentences and a time observing at a small Montessori school in Eudora, Kansas were enough to set afire a little flame to know more.
Maria Montessori was a doctor around the turn of the last century in Italy. After observing children with disabilities, she was able to create materials that allowed these children to succeed in ways that no one had dreamed possible for them. After some time, these children, who were considered handicapped, were assessed and performed as well as “normal” children on national exams. The children showed such a desire to learn. It was almost as if there was within them a little bird ready to take flight. And there began the Montessori model.
Montessori provides hands-on materials and allows the children to teach themselves, following their interior inspirations. A trained guide is in the classroom, but she is to follow the child and his desires, provided that they are ordered and good. Little has changed over the years and many guides have attended schools to learn this method and continue to follow the child, teaching him reading, grammar, math, and sciences as he shows interest with materials that spark his desire to learn.
Our Lady’s Montessori School (OLMS) has served children in the Kansas City area since 1973. SOLT founder, Fr. James Flanagan, encouraged this method of education to develop the whole person of the child. In its early days, the school had both primary (ages 3-6) and elementary (ages 6-12) classrooms. Since the school relocated in 2002, it has had a flourishing toddler and preschool program. Recently, the sisters and board of directors decided to open an early elementary classroom for grades 1-3 to expand on this vision. Last year, when I was asked if I wanted to study Montessori education in order to become the guide in this new classroom, my answer was an enthusiastic yes!
This past summer was a time of renovations to make our classroom ready for older students. Many parents of the OLMS community donated their time, talent, and materials to make our new space beautiful. In August, we opened the room to nine students, ages 6-9! The children are enthusiastic learners and excited to arrive at school each day. They can’t wait to get their hands on the materials designed to teach them math, handwriting, grammar, geography, and more. We pray that our little classroom continues to grow and thrive and to serve many more children in the years to come.
SR. MARIA MATER DEI FRITZ, SOLT
Sr. Maria is originally from Garnett, Kansas. She studied elementary education at the University of Kansas and professed her perpetual vows as a SOLT sister in 2017. She currently serves at Our Lady’s Montessori School in Kansas City.