Review: I think this book is brilliant. My child is almost 3 and I seriously had never given any thought to his formal education until a couple weeks ago. I just assumed that, like my husband and I, he would go to public school when it was time and of course, do well, because education is something that we highly value. However, due to a certain unexpected series of events, he has just recently been enrolled in a preschool that has a Montessori component. Having never heard of Montessori schools, I checked this book out at the library. While my son would likely have gone to this preschool even if it weren’t associated with a Montessori philosophy at all, I am now extremely grateful for the Montessori aspects. The basic idea is that, in a Montessori school, children are free to choose what they would like to learn about individually or with other students in a very structured environment in which they are not graded or rewarded for their learning efforts in any way. By allowing them to “choose their work” from several predefined tasks each child can choose to spend time actively learning whatever interests them in the moment. Through this method, they are being taught patience, independence, concentration, and social skills, all while having their curiosity and desire to learn enhanced.
I specifically liked this book because it divides some of the main tenets of Montessori education such as freedom of choice and lack of extrinsic rewards into their own chapters and discusses how each relates to Montessori education and traditional schooling while citing numerous interesting studies that illuminate the importance of each. I think this book would be useful not only to parents considering sending their kids to Montessori schools, but also to parents with kids in traditional schools and homeschoolers as well. Several of the findings offer useful and simple ways to make school more interesting, relevant, and effective for all children regardless of their learning environment. (Personal Rating: 9/10)