What is Montessori?
By Melissa Requist, age 10
Strawberry Park Elementary School
Montessori is a method of teaching where you can work at your own level and make your own choices. It was invented by Maria Montessori in 1907. Montessori has many hands-on activities that help students understand math, language arts, and science concepts.
One important part of Montessori is friendship and community. Everybody is friends with each other. Montessori revolves around students helping others and being kind and honest.
Montessori features multi-grade classrooms, which results in older students helping younger students and a strong bond between the ages.
Montessori is not all fun and games. It is hard work that helps create a love of learning in students. It has a peaceful environment that lets students work their hardest.
Montessori in an important method of teaching, not only academics, but how to interact with each other.
- To be published in Montessori Today, an international magazine for Montessori students and their parents.
Steamboat Springs Melissa Requist will be published in an international magazine in November, with readers across the United States and in Africa, Asia and Europe.
She's 10 years old.
Melissa wrote an essay titled "What is Montessori?" to respond to a classmate's question about the multi-age, self-directed Montessori program.
She and her mother, Carrie Requist, then submitted the essay to Tomorrow's Child, a publication for Montessori parents and students that is published five times a year.
Lorna McGrath, Director of Montessori's Family Education Resource Center, said she was impressed enough by the article to include it in the magazine.
"It was such a neat little thing, and she decided to do it on her own," McGrath said. "I decided, 'let's put it in.'"
Linda Stansbery, Melissa's teacher at Strawberry Park Elementary School, said it is not uncommon for Melissa to write on her own and create self-initiated projects.
"She's the type of person who comes up with ideas herself," Stansbery said. "She's in fifth grade, but her writing, reading and math are well above that."
Melissa often writes poetry in class, Stansbery said, and has been working on advanced math.
"She always challenges herself, and she challenges me because I have to be the one to check her work," she said.
Carrie Requist enrolled Melissa in a Montessori preschool when she was 20 months old, when the family lived in California, and continued her in Montessori classes when they relocated to Steamboat Springs.
Melissa said it's hard to compare the class to other types of classrooms because it's all she's known, but she said the type of learning available in Montessori classrooms suits her well.
"I like that they don't say, 'You have to learn this right now,'" she said. "Most of the time, you can choose."
Melissa likes a variety of subjects, including writing, math, chemistry and other areas of science.
Carrie Requist also has enrolled her other two younger daughters in the Montessori program, which she said helps the whole family.
"The children really love learning and enjoy the whole process of learning," she said. "And it also feeds back on us as parents and teaches us how to be better parents."
Carrie Requist also described the course as child-led, an idea that Stansbery echoed about Melissa's learning.
"This year, she came up to me and said she wanted to do square roots, so I got out the materials, gave her a lesson on it, and she just goes from there," Stansbery said. "She likes to do research and, if she doesn't know how something works or if she has a question about things, she knows how to use the computer."
That type of learning can be especially beneficial for students like Melissa, she said.
"When you have a child like Melissa, you let her go," Stansbery said.