Montessori is a child-centered educational approach that emphasizes independent, purposeful work and collaborative exploration. At Blackshear Elementary School, classrooms are equipped with tools to encourage “discovery” of concepts by using materials rather than by instruction from a teacher. The teacher guides the learning and encourages independence, freedom within limits, and a sense of order.
“One of the biggest misconceptions about Montessori is that it’s not structured, and that the kids are ‘free’ to do what they want,” says Blackshear’s magnet coordinator Madelyn Traylor. “It has a rich environment for children to explore, but concepts are taught in a sequenced manner, allowing each child to move through this sequence, and fulfill their academic needs, at their own rates and levels.”
Houston has the third-largest number of public Montessori programs in the nation, trailing only Washington/Arlington and Milwaukee, according to the National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector. Houston ISD has three Montessori schools – Blackshear ES, Garden Oaks K-8, and Wilson K-8.
To see if your child be a good fit for Montessori-structured learning, Traylor suggests doing research.
“Visit the school, observe, and ask questions,” she said. “Ask other parents who have students who attend the campus. As a parent, you must ensure that you feel this would be an environment that would help your child to be successful.”
Blackshear is one of three Montessori schools in HISD. Students can apply to attend one through the district’s 2015–2016 magnet application until Dec. 19, the deadline for guaranteed first-round consideration.