General FAQs

 

Q1. Where did Montessori come from? 



 

A1. Montessori (pronounced MON-tuh-SORE-ee) education was founded in 1907 by Dr. Maria Montessori, the first woman in Italy to become a physician. She based her educational methods on scientific observation of children's learning processes. Guided by her discovery that children teach themselves, Dr. Montessori designed a "prepared environment" in which children could freely choose from a number of developmentally appropriate activities. Now, nearly a century after Maria Montessori's first casa dei bambini ("children's house") in Rome, Montessori education is found all over the world, spanning ages from birth to adolescence.

 

Q2. What is the difference between Montessori and traditional education?

 

A2. At the under age six level, Montessori emphasizes learning through all five senses, not just through listening, watching, or reading. Children in Montessori classes learn at their own, individual pace and according to their own choice of activities from hundreds of possibilities. The are not required to sit and listen to a teacher talk to them as a group, but are engaged in individual or group activities of their own, with materials that have been introduced to them 1:1 by the teacher who knows what each child is ready to do. Learning is an exciting process of discovery, leading to concentration, motivation, self-discipline, and a love of learning.

 

Above age 6 children learn to do independent research, arrange field trips to gather information, interview specialists, create group presentation, dramas, art exhibits, musical productions, science projects, and so forth. There is no limit to what they created in this kind of intelligently guided freedom. There are no textbooks or adult-directed group lessons and daily schedule. There is great respect for the choices of the children, but they easily keep up with or surpass what they would be doing in a more traditional setting. There is no wasted time and children enjoy their work and study. The children ask each other for lessons and much of the learning comes from sharing and inspiring each other instead of competing with each other.

Montessori classes place children in three-year-or-more age groups (3-6, 2.5-6, 6-12, and so on), forming communities in which the older children spontaneously share their knowledge with the younger ones. Montessori represents an entirely different approach to education.

 

Click here Montessori VS Traditional Education

 

Q3. Can I do Montessori at home with my child?

 

A3. Yes, you can use Montessori principles of child development at home. Look at your home through your child's eyes. Children need a sense of belonging, and they get it by participating fully in the routines of everyday life. "Help me do it by myself" is the life theme of the preschooler, school age child, teenager, and young adult. 

Can you find ways for your child to participate in meal preparation, cleaning, gardening, and caring for clothes, shoes, and toys? Providing opportunities for independence is the surest way to build your child's self-esteem and to build the skills needed for life-long learning. 

At the school level many homeschooling and other parents use the Montessori philosophy of following the child's interest and not interrupting concentration to educate their children. 
In school only a trained Montessori teacher can properly implement Montessori education with the specialized learning equipment taught during teacher training, but there are many ideas that can be used in the home with families whose children are in school full-time, or in families where the adults are in charge of the totality of the child's education.

 

Q4. Are Montessori children successful later in life?

 

A4. Research studies show that Montessori children are well prepared for later life academically, socially, and emotionally. In addition to scoring well on standardized tests, Montessori children are ranked above average on such criteria as following directions, turning in work on time, listening attentively, using basic skills, showing responsibility, asking provocative questions, showing enthusiasm for learning, and adapting to new situations.

 

Q5: Why do Montessori class group different age levels together?

 

A5: Sometimes parents worry that by having younger children in the same class as older ones; one group or the other will be shortchanged. They fear that the younger children will absorb the teachers' time and attention, or that the importance of covering the kindergarten curriculum for the six-year-olds will prevent them from giving the three-and four-year-olds the emotional support and stimulation that they need. Both concerns are misguided.

 

At each level, Montessori programs are designed to address the developmental characteristics normal to children in that stage.

 

Montessori classes are organized to encompass a two- or three-year age span, which allows younger students the stimulation of older children, who in turn benefit from servings as role models. Each child learns at her own pace and will be ready for any given lesson in her own time, not on the teacher's schedule of lessons. In a mixed-age class, children can always find peers who are working at their current level.

 

Children normally stay in the same class for three years. With two thirds of the class normally returning each year, the classroom culture tends to remain quite stable.

 

Working in one class for two or three years allows students to develop a strong sense of community with their classmates and teachers. The age range also allows especially gifted children the stimulation of intellectual peers, without requiring that they skip a grade or feel emotionally out of place.

 

Q6: Why do Montessori classes tend to be larger than those found in many other schools?

 

A6: Many schools take pride in having very small classes, and parents often wonder why the teacher to students ratio of infant/toddler, early childhood and junior program are 1:3,1:6,1:6 respectively.

 

Schools that place children together into small groups assume that the teacher is the source of instruction, a very limited resource. They reason that as the number of children decreases, the time that teachers have to spend with each child increases. Ideally, we would have a one-on-one tutorial situation. But the best teacher of a three-year-old is often another somewhat older child. This process is good for both the tutor and the younger child. In this situation, the teacher is not the early childhood focus. The larger group size puts the focus less on the adult and encourages children to learn from each other.

 

By consciously bringing children together in larger multi-age class groups, in which two-thirds of the children normally return each year, the school environment promotes continuity and the development of a fairly stable community.

 

Q7: Why do most Montessori schools ask young children to attend five days a week?

 

A7: Five-day programs create the consistency that is so important to young children and which is essential in developing strong Montessori programs. Since the early childhood goal of Montessori involves creating a culture of consistency, order, and empowerment, most Montessori schools will expect children to attend five days a week.

 

Q8: Why is Montessori so expensive compared to conventional schools?

 

A8: Montessori programs are normally more expensive to organize and run than conventional classrooms, due to the extensive teacher education needed to become certified and the very high cost of purchasing the educational materials and beautiful furniture needed to equip each Montessori classroom.

 

Montessori is not always more expensive. Tuition costs depend on many factors, including the cost of the various elements that go into running a particular school, such as the cost of the buildings and grounds, teacher salaries, the size of the school (generally, larger schools tend to be more cost-effective), the programs it offers, and whether the school receives a subsidy payment from a sponsoring church, charity, or government agency.

  

Q9: Why do most Montessori schools want children to enter at age three?

 

A9: Dr. Montessori identified four “planes of development,” with each stage having its own developmental characteristics and developmental challenges. The Early Childhood Montessori environment for children age three to six is designed to work with the “absorbent mind,” “sensitive periods,” and the tendencies of children at this stage of their development.

 

Learning that takes place during these years comes spontaneously, without effort, leading children to enter the elementary classes with a clear, concrete sense of many abstract concepts. Montessori helps children to become self-motivated, self-disciplined, and to retain the sense of curiosity that so many children lose along the way in traditional classrooms. They tend to act with care and respect toward their environment and each other. They are able to work at their own pace and ability. The three-year Montessori experience tends to nurture a joy of learning that prepares them for further challenges.

 

This process seems to work best when children enter a Montessori program at age two or three and stay at least through the kindergarten year. Children entering at age four or five do not consistently come to the end of the three-year cycle having developed the same skills, work habits, or values.

 

Older children entering Montessori may do quite well in this very different setting, but this will depend to a large degree on their personality, previous educational experiences, and the way they have been raised at home.

 

Montessori programs can usually accept a few older children into an established class, so long as the family understands and accepts that some critical opportunities may have been missed, and these children may not reach the same levels of achievement seen in the other children of that age. On the other hand, because of the individualized pace of learning in Montessori classrooms, this will not normally be a concern.

  

Q10: How can Montessori teachers meet the needs of so many different children?

 

A10: Great teachers help learners get to the point where their minds and hearts are open, leaving them ready to learn. In effective schools, students are not so much motivated by getting good grades as they are by a basic love of learning. As parents know their own children's learning styles and temperaments, teachers, too, develop this sense of each child's uniqueness by spending a number of years with the students and their parents.

 

Dr. Montessori believed that teachers should focus on the child as a person, not on the daily lesson plan. Montessori teachers lead children to ask questions, think for themselves, explore, investigate, and discover. Their ultimate objective is to help their students to learn independently and retain the curiosity, creativity, and intelligence with which they were born. As we said in an earlier chapter, Montessori teachers don't simply present lessons; they are facilitators, mentors, coaches, and guides.

 

Traditionally, teachers have told us that they “teach students the basic facts and skills that they will need to succeed in the world.” Studies show that in many non-Montessori classrooms, a substantial portion of the day is spent on discipline and classroom management. Normally, Montessori teachers will not spend much time teaching lessons to the whole class. Their early childhood role is to prepare and maintain the physical, intellectual, and social/ emotional environment within which the children will work. A key aspect of this is the selection of intriguing and developmentally appropriate learning activities to meet the needs and interests of each child in the class.

 

Montessori teachers usually present lessons to small groups of children at one time and limit lessons to brief and very clear presentations. The goal is to give the children just enough to capture their attention and spark their interest, intriguing them enough that they will come back on their own to work with the learning materials.

 

Montessori teachers closely monitor their students' progress. Because they normally work with each child for two or three years, they get to know their students' strengths and weaknesses, interests, and personalities extremely well. Montessori teachers often use the children's interests to enrich the curriculum and provide alternate avenues for accomplishment and success.

  

Q11: Why is a Montessori classroom called a “Children's House?”

 

A11: Dr. Montessori's focus on the “whole child” led her to develop a very different sort of school from the traditional teacher-centered classroom. To emphasize this difference, she named her first school the “Casa dei Bambini” or the “Children's House.” The Montessori classroom is not the domain of the adults in charge; it is, instead, a carefully prepared environment designed to facilitate the development of the children's independence and sense of personal empowerment.

 

This is a children's community. They move freely within it, selecting work that captures their interest. In a very real sense, even very small children are responsible for the care of their own child-sized environment. When they are hungry, they prepare their own snacks and drinks. They go to the bathroom without assistance. When something spills, they help each other carefully clean up.

 

Four generations of parents have been amazed to see small children in Montessori classrooms cut raw fruits and vegetables, sweep and dust, carry pitchers of water, and pour liquids with barely a drop spilled. They children normally go about their work so calmly and purposely that it is clear to even the casual observer that they are the masters in this place: The “Children's House.”

  

Q12: What do Montessori schools mean by the term “Normalization?”

 

A12: “Normalization” is a Montessori term that describes the process that takes place in Montessori classrooms around the world, in which young children, who typically have a short attention span, learn to focus their intelligence, concentrate their energies for long periods of time, and take tremendous satisfaction from their work.

 

In his book, Maria Montessori: Her Life and Work, E.M. Standing described the following characteristics of normalization in the child between the age of three and six:

 

•  A love of order;

 

•  A love of work;

 

•  Profound spontaneous concentration;

 

•  Attachment to reality;

 

•  Love of silence and of working alone;

 

•  Sublimation of the possessive instinct;

 

•  Obedience;

 

•  Independence and initiative;

 

•  Spontaneous self-discipline;

 

•  Joy; and

 

•  The power to act from real choice and not just from idle curiosity. 

 

Q13: Is Montessori for all children?

 

A13: The Montessori system has been used successfully with children from all socio-economic levels, representing those in regular classes as well as the gifted, children with developmental delays, and children with emotional and physical disabilities. There is no one school that is right for all children, and certainly there are children who may do better in a smaller classroom setting with a more teacher-directed program that offers fewer choices and more consistent external structure. Children who are easily over stimulated, or those who tend to be overly aggressive, may be examples of children who might not adapt as easily to a Montessori program. Each situation is different, and it is best to work with the schools in your area to see if it appears that a particular child and school would be a good match.

  

Q14: Is Montessori opposed to homework?

 

A14: Most Montessori schools do not assign homework to children below the elementary level. When it is assigned to older children, it rarely involves page after page of “busy” work; instead, the children are given meaningful, interesting assignments that expand on the topics that they are pursuing in class. Many assignments invite parents and children to work together. When possible, teachers will normally build in opportunities for children to choose among several alternative assignments. Sometimes, teachers will prepare individually negotiated weekly assignments with each student