Academic Rigour at CMS
– According to Oxford Learner’s English Dictionary, the word ‘rigour’ means to be extremely thoughtful, careful, and paying great attention to detail. At times, the same word has been interpreted as being harsh or demanding, particularly in education. Formal education has changed since the Industrial Revolution where policies were made to ensure children were educated en masse. At that time, these regulations did not include the human aspect of the learner. Therefore, academic rigour is interpreted as rules made for all and today this can be daunting for both students and families. Our world has progressed since the industrial revolution, and so has the way we learn.
In a Montessori environment, the explanation of rigour is far more simple than we as adults imagine, and ‘academic rigour’ simply means preparing students to be the best they can be. Children want to succeed; children want to follow role models, children want to fully participate in the world around them and so it is the adults around them that must ensure the environment lends itself to offer the appropriate opportunities for students to excel.
Early Learning rigour
How does Caboolture Montessori School apply academic rigour to their pedagogy? How do we expect children as young as three to follow academic rigour?
In a Montessori class, even with our youngest learners, we encourage high individual engagement and questioning. Our environments are prepared to entice children to find their interests. Children are guided to explore and absorb new knowledge.
So where is the rigour? Our mini societies are based on mutual respect: children must wait their turn, children must finish the work they are doing before starting a new activity, and replace items as they found them for the next person to explore. Our students have a visual sequence on the shelves in the class of each learning area, so they can direct their own learning by seeing the progression of each concept. Children are expected to ask for lessons and to repeat the same with manipulates (educational materials) displayed in the room.
Therefore, Montessori classrooms are not a space where children ‘do what they want’; it is not an environment where children can choose to do nothing. Children are continuously involved with learning, hence the rigour. And this includes children as young as three which Maria Montessori stated are vastly underestimated.
Adults must be prepared to understand the child’s developmental needs and provide a rich environment for children to satisfy their curiosity and their capability, remembering that children from birth to approximately six years of age are developing neurologically faster, than at any other time in their life.
Young children NEED a stimulating learning environment with caring and precise guidance so they can build the foundations of continuous learners. Not providing academic rigour at an early age is a massively missed opportunity. Learning is work, work constructs the individual, and hence children in our early learning years are fully able to participate in academic rigour. Our Cycle 1 classes which begin from three years provide such a learning environment, providing another big difference to mainstream school, which prep children start at around age 5.
If you would like to know more about our Cycle 1 classes introduce academic rigour and to consider if it is right for your family, please attend our next Open Day. Registrations can be made here: