What is Montessori education? Dr. Montessori designed her programs (lessons, materials, and classroom activities) to work in harmony with the way children learn. Her programs are also designed to support the specific, innate needs children have at various stages of development. Montessori education provides for a child’s intellectual, personal, social and moral enrichment.
What type of child benefits from Montessori education? Montessori education is suitable for most children because it was created to meet their developmental needs. Montessori education allows children to actively participate in their own learning and development in thoughtfully prepared classrooms that nourish their natural love of learning.
How does a Montessori classroom work? Montessori classrooms are large, open and orderly. Work materials are beautifully and neatly displayed on shelves carefully arranged throughout the classroom. Spacious work areas are also provided. Classroom materials, lessons and work activities are matched to the educational and developmental needs of the children using the classroom. Students receive lessons from a trained Montessori teacher in all areas of the curriculum. Students then practice their lessons independently or in small groups, depending on their age levels. Children can also use classroom time to create their own projects and to study subjects of their own choosing.
Is it true that children can do what they want in a Montessori classroom? While children are allowed to make their own work choices (within a framework established by their teacher), to walk freely around the classroom, and to interact with each other, they are also expected to follow rules of conduct. Children earn their independence and freedom during classroom time through personal responsibility, cooperation, self-control and respect for others. When children don’t follow class rules and practice personal responsibility their freedoms are limited. The teacher then takes a more active role in directing and guiding the child’s behavior and work choices.
What happens when children want to practice just the lessons they like? Children are not allowed to practice only the lessons they like. Instead, they are expected to practice all of their lessons and work from the full range of subject areas. Teachers are responsible for observing their students and enforcing well-balanced work habits. Teachers will provide children with the instructions and supervision they need to acquire age appropriate skills.
Why do Montessori schools have multi-age classes? During her studies, Dr. Montessori learned that children in certain age ranges (generally spanning three years) have the same characteristics in their development and learning. Accordingly, these children naturally group together and are inherently suited for the same types of lessons, classroom materials and classroom environments.
Can older and younger children really get along in one classroom? Multi-year age groups allow children to broaden their personal, social and academic skills. Over a three year time period, children, in the same classroom with the same teacher, will start as the new and inexperienced students. With time they will progress to the middle level and finally become the older children, who are the most experienced and knowledgeable. The older children become helpers to their teacher and classmates. They are able to recognize their gains and development. They can identify clear contrasts in experience and ability between themselves and their younger classmates. In turn, this awareness in the older children is used to develop their compassion and helpfulness toward others. On the other hand, younger children look up to their older classmates. As well, they find motivation and inspiration in their older classmates, who provide clear examples of the activities and opportunities still to come.
Why do Montessori classes have more children and a larger teacher to student ratio than public and private schools might have? Dr. Montessori designed a method of education that encourages children to become independent, self-reliant and problem-solving. In classrooms where the adult to child ratio is low, children will look to the adults for unnecessary support. To offset this type of dependence on adults, Dr. Montessori designed her lessons, classroom materials, classroom environments, teacher training programs and so on to support children doing and learning as much for themselves as possible. As well, children are encouraged to guide and help each other. Larger class sizes aid these various goals.
Do Montessori schools have homework? No. Children spend most of their school day actively learning. During the uninterrupted three hour morning work period and the two hour afternoon work period, children spend their school time thinking, creating and studying. They also spend this time practicing and developing their skills. During these in school work periods, children are very productive. Moreover, learning, discovery and exploration are encouraged at all times, in school, at home, on family outings and so on.
Is Physical Fitness provided during the school day? Yes, but not through scheduled classes. Montessori students enjoy freedom of movement throughout the school day and extended times of free play each day. We have large outdoor and indoor play areas, with indoor and outdoor equipment, that provide children plenty of physical exercise.
Is it difficult for children to transition to another school after attending a Montessori school? Generally transitions are not difficult. Montessori students are well prepared personally, socially and academically. Our students tell us they make friends with a variety of people from different cultures and different backgrounds. Also, they tend not to join one group or another. Too, a child’s temperament and personality will also be part of his/he r transition process.