Student to Teacher Ratio
It's always helpful to read about the journey that others go through when they are schooling children (either in the classroom or at home). It's the sharing of these journeys (both positive and negative) that gives others the knowledge and strength to make the decisions that they feel are best for the children in their care.
Here is an article that caught our attention: "Homeschooling transformed over decades"
The article brings up some good points about the positive aspects of homeschooling and how it has changed over the past decade. But our brains hit pause at this statement in the article: "The fact is, it is a superior education. Home is the only classroom with a teacher-to-student ratio as low as one-to-one."
The writer's opinion of "a superior education" wasn't the part that caused us to pause. Everyone does have the right to think their 'form' of education is best. After all, we firmly believe that Montessori is best, but it's not up to us to convince others of it. It's up to us to provide the philosophy and the materials and then let others decide what they think is best for them.
It was the comment, "Home is the only classroom with a teacher-to-student ratio as low as one-to-one." that gave us reason to pause and think just how juxtaposed a thought that is to the Montessori classroom.
In the Primary Montessori classroom, we strive for a 3-year age mix (ages 3, 4, and 5), and a high ratio of children to 1 trained Directress and an assistant: 23-25 children to 2 adults is ideal. The age mix must be as equal as possible (i.e., 8 three-year-olds, 8 four-year-olds, 8 five-year-olds), with each child staying in the same class for 3 years. Therefore the only new children brought into the class at the beginning of the year are those who are three years old - the other 16 or so children are returning back to the same classroom for their second and third year. Note: Historically, the ratio was 30:2, which is now hard or next to impossible to achieve with all the Child and Youth Services regulations here in Ontario.
The 3-year mixed age group and the high ratio are key components of the Montessori philosophy. The mixed ages of the children are crucial; the children learn from each other, care for each other, and help to eliminate the crutches that would otherwise occur if the children were all the same age.
The children gain independence because there are other children who require the time and attention of the teacher. As well, they have the freedom to be guided by their inner drive and are less likely to be directed through the curriculum at the desire of the adult.
Is one-on-one time with parents crucial to a child's development? Absolutely! There is nothing better than reading together, cuddling and talking, playing, enjoying the outdoors, and so many other important day-to-day activities.
But in the Montessori environment, it is clearly best to have a high number of children and few adults present.
P.S. - We still firmly believe that it's possible to use Montessori at home, even with a low ratio. But it's definitely much more challenging as the ratio lowers.