Q: Why should I choose a Montessori education for my child?
A: It is from birth to age 12 when most of your child’s intelligence and social characteristics are formed. This is also when children are most receptive, curious, and excited about exploring the world around them. A Montessori classroom nurtures that excitement and curiosity by offering a variety of materials to stimulate and intrigue your child.
The Montessori teacher is trained to recognize when a child is ready to learn a new skill, and to foster his or her natural instincts and abilities without being an obstacle to development. Your child is valued as an independent thinker and encouraged to make choices on his or her own.
A Montessori education provides students of all ages with information and opportunities in a way they can understand it and enjoy it – learning is fun, empowering, and designed to suit your child’s individual learning style. If parents are supportive of this philosophy of child development and practice compatible opportunities for the child’s growing independence, choice, and respect at home, then a Montessori education would be appropriate and beneficial for your child.
Q: Will the Montessori Method work for my child?
A: One of the fundamental assumptions of a Montessori program is that every child wants to learn and will do so best when allowed to learn concepts that are timely and compelling to the child. The individualized nature of the Montessori Method encourages each child to practice the work that interests him, not work that is “scheduled” or “planned” according to someone else’s agenda.
Montessori students have, at their disposal, appealing and age-appropriate materials that are presented by a teacher who is specially trained to explain their correct use in a carefully monitored order. Skills develop in a logical, orderly manner based on experience and observation. The flexibility for the child to be able to advance at their own pace makes Montessori programs a good fit for children with a wide variety of learning styles, interests, and strengths or weaknesses.
Applicants to Community Montessori School are asked to participate in at least one classroom visit prior to enrollment so that the parents, teachers, and child can experience first-hand how the Montessori Method “fits.”
Q: Why are there children of different ages in each classroom, instead of having all the three-year-olds in one classroom, four-year-olds in another, etc.?
A: Maria Montessori discovered that putting older and younger children together helps them learn from and teach each other. This is good for the older children because they can be helpful to the younger ones, which not only reinforces what they have learned but also enhances their self-esteem. The younger children, in turn, have role models to follow and are smoothly integrated into the classroom with the help of older, more experienced children.
Q: How do Montessori teachers compare to teachers in traditional classroom settings?
A: The “teacher” in a Montessori classroom is often called a “directress” or “guide.” The term “teacher” is someone who passes along information that he or she knows. The Montessori teacher directs the child toward what he needs to do to teach himself, using the specially-prepared materials in the classroom. The Montessori directress has been trained to observe children, determine their levels of development, and provide any guidance the children may need to progress to the next level.
Q: How much one-on-one attention will my child receive?
A: In education, nothing works as well as individual attention, and in Montessori classrooms children are typically taught individually or in small groups. In this setting, the directress receives immediate feedback about each child’s level of “absorption” and what further needs he or she has. In a traditional classroom, a teacher presents “one size fits all” lessons to all children at the same rate for the allotted amount of time, and when that time is up, often the lesson is over.
Q: No desks, no tests…at some point my child will probably need to attend a school program that is not Montessori based. Will he be academically prepared to meet the expectations of traditional programs?
A: Montessori students develop a true love for learning, a great ability to focus and concentrate, and superior ability to cooperate with others or work independently. Montessori children adapt quickly to and thrive in new school, work, or social situations.
Q: Isn’t it a stretch to think that a three or four year old has the judgment to choose what he needs to learn and what work he wants to do each day?
A: One classroom-visit will show that Montessori classrooms are not in any way a “free-for-all” where children run wild. Materials are presented to children so that they understand how each piece of equipment is used, then that work is available to be chosen by that child. Teachers are well aware, however, of what children are choosing. If a child is not making good choices, he or she is redirected and encouraged to choose a different activity. One of the beauties of the “prepared environment” with its purposefully-crafted materials is that virtually every choice is a good choice.
Q: What does a typical daily schedule look like in a Montessori class?
A: As children arrive in the classroom, they greet the teacher and other students and begin to work. When all children have arrived, there is often a class meeting, then students are dismissed to their first "work cycle".
The length of the morning work cycle depends on the ages of children but ranges from 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours. During the work cycle, students work and receive lessons, individually or in small groups.
At the end of the work cycle, the class again gathers, after which there is outdoor time, extra activities such as music, and lunch. After lunch, younger children rest and older children enter into another work cycle or enjoy enrichment activities such as P.E., Spanish, Violin, etc. After rest or the afternoon work cycle, students go home or remain until they are picked up by their parents.
Q: What are the classrooms like?
Inside a Montessori classroom, you are likely to see younger children intent upon learning their alphabet using letters cut out of sandpaper or exploring music using a set of bells. One may be studying basic math concept using beads strung together in groups of five, ten, etc., while another student is painting or making collage.
The Montessori environment gives children the opportunity and ability to choose the work that most interests them. As a result, they tend to remain focused and attentive while immersed in their work. As children get older, they work in groups to explore areas of interest in more depth. A full complement of subject areas are available, as well as the use of community resources outside the classroom that enhance their learning.
Q: What do you have to offer that my child cannot get at other local schools?
A: The Montessori approach to education is unique. The materials used to teach reading, writing, grammar, arithmetic, geography, physical science, biology, music, history, geography, and cultural explorations are all concrete, able to be chosen by the child after a lesson, and manipulated so that the child gradually teaches himself. The materials are specifically designed and are unique to the Montessori classroom.
Maria Montessori, a physician who developed the materials and educational philosophy upon which our school is built, recognized the important impact that physiological and neurological development has on a child’s learning. The classroom materials she developed for our youngest students, for example, take abstract ideas and put them in a concrete form that makes sense to these developing minds. Unlike other schools, your child will also share his or her Montessori classroom with older and/or younger students. Our primary classrooms have children ages 3 to 6 learning alongside each other; our Lower Elementary classrooms have children ages 6 to 9, and our Upper Elementary class is comprised of students ages 9 to 12. This way, students learn to learn from their peers, and respect their own and each other’s ability to be a teacher as well as a student.