Frequently Asked Questions
In a nutshell, just what is Montessori?
It is an educational approach based on seeing children as they really are and creating environments that nurture their natural abilities and foster independence, initiative and a lifelong love of learning. Montessori education is a continuation of the work of Dr. Maria Montessori, who established the first Casa de Bambini (or “Children’s House”) outside Rome, Italy in 1907. More than a century later, her methods continue to be used with great success and remarkable results in thousands of Montessori schools throughout the world.
Are all Montessori schools/programs alike?
They’re not. Because the Montessori name is not a registered trademark or otherwise protected, and can be used legally by anyone, it is possible to find schools that call themselves Montessori, but bear little or no resemblance to each other or to the philosophy and practices Dr. Montessori initiated.
We take pride and pleasure in offering Montessori education as its originator envisioned it and in providing programs that meet the standards of Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) and the North American Montessori Teachers’ Association (NAMTA).
Schools also vary in ways you might expect – size, ages of children served and so on. Some offer only primary programs, while others continue through high school. Montessori education is offered by private, non-profit, non-sectarian schools like ours as well as for-profit entities, religious schools, and even public schools.
Is Montessori right for every child?
Montessori has been successful with children from all socioeconomic situations, religions, and levels of ability. Whether they are gifted, mentally challenged, or have physical, emotional or learning disabilities, children grow academically, emotionally, and socially in a Montessori environment. Children proceed at their own pace and master skills in their own time frame.
What happens when children leave a Montessori program for a more traditional (non-Montessori) school? How do they perform academically? How do they adjust socially?
Formal research, and decades of our own follow-up, show that children make a smooth transition to their next educational setting, whatever it may be.
Academically, Montessori educated children generally score well on standardized tests, often testing at a grade level or two ahead of their peers. They are above average at following directions, turning in work on time, listening, using basic skills, showing responsibility, asking provocative questions, and adapting to new situations. Above all, Montessori children are enthusiastic about learning and that self-motivation stays with them throughout their academic career and beyond.
Socially, Montessori educated children tend to get along well with others. They are friendly, self-confident, and equipped to withstand negative peer pressure and influences. The foundation of respect—for people, property and themselves—built during their Montessori years serves them well throughout their lives.
Montessori gives children so much freedom at such a young age. Can they handle it?
Yes, they can. What’s more, because Montessori provides freedom within limits, children learn that with freedom comes responsibility. Individual respect and respect for others and community property are core values of a Montessori education. As such, our children are well prepared to handle freedoms responsibly as they get older.
Concerned parents tend to overestimate how often this might occur. In our years of experience, it is a non-issue. Children see other students learning and they naturally want to fit in and see what the fun is all about. If it does occur, it is temporary. The freedom at Montessori is a supervised freedom. The Montessori directress would notice the avoidance and creatively draw out the child’s curiosity in that area. In addition, children are in the same learning environment for three years, giving them ample time to get around to any lessons they may have deferred.
Are there opportunities for social interaction?
Children interact continuously. At any given moment, you’ll observe children working together on projects; older children helping younger ones; one child demonstrating a material to another; several children chatting while preparing snacks; and more. Interactions tend to be less competitive and more cooperative in Montessori’s multi-age classrooms where children naturally develop tolerance and appreciation of differences.
Constantly! Most of the time, Montessori children who are hard at work are enjoying themselves — a lot! What could be more fun than being fully involved in and completely absorbed by an activity you get to choose; an activity that challenges you and allows you to feel accomplished and satisfied when you are done with it? And, of course, they still have the “jump around and make noise” playtime when they go outside each day to release some energy.
What is the best age for a child to enroll? Can they start when they’re a little older?
Children typically enter the primary class when they are 2 ½ to 3 years of age. They must be toilet trained. Primary age children can start when they are a little older and are considered on an individual basis.
Can students transfer in?
Yes, if they are transferring from another Montessori program.
Do you accept children with special needs?
We consider all children, including children with special needs, on an individual basis. Some children’s needs are beyond our capabilities or require modifications to materials and equipment that we are not able to provide. However, challenged learners – children with learning disabilities or developmental delays, for example – can do well here because a Montessori program like ours is designed to help all children reach their full potential at their own unique pace.
Do children who enroll in the primary program, which covers the preschool and kindergarten years, have to stay for the full three years?
Admission to the primary class requires a commitment from parents to enroll their child for all 3 years of the program. This allows teachers to work with a child during all sensitive periods of this developmental plane. It also allows children to truly blossom as their growth and learning come to fruition in the final year.
We also ask that parents plan to enroll their children for all three years of an elementary level program. These 3-year cycles mirror children’s natural planes of development, and each ends at an optimal time for children to make the transition to a new school (between 3rd and 4th grades; or 6th and 7th.
Is financial aid available?
Yes. The school offers adjusted tuition and flexible payment plans based on a family’s financial evaluation by School and Student Service for Financial Aid (SSS), a service of the National Association of Independent Schools (www.nais.org).
Does the school provide transportation?
At this time, we do not. However, a family directory, available from our office staff, helps parents join or organize carpools. Our families travel from many different communities in the area, and many happily share the driving.
What training do faculty have?
All of our teachers (whom we call directresses) have bachelors degrees and are either certified by the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) or are teachers-in-training with AMI. Training that leads to certification includes nine months of postgraduate study at a recognized AMI training center, many hours of classroom observation and supervised practice teaching, and passing grades on written and oral examinations. There are separate courses and certification for primary class and elementary class teachers.
Do you encourage parent involvement?
Parents and faculty are partners in the exciting endeavor of nurturing children’s growth and development. In addition, our parents, along with alumni and their families, form a caring community that works together to assist with school projects—and support one another.