FAQsAre all Montessori schools alike?
No, Montessori schools vary widely because the name "Montessori" is a public domain. This means that anyone can use the name "Montessori". The way to insure that a program is truly using the Montessori approach as developed by Maria Montessori is to ask if the school is AMI(Association Montessori Internationale) affiliated.What do children do in a Montessori program?
There are several different areas of learning in a Montessori classroom: practical life skills, sensorial development, language, mathematics, history, science and cultural studies (geography, art, music). In addition to materials in each area, children might also take time out during the day to sing songs, read a story or enjoy nature.
Children have both individual and group lessons in each area. Throughout the day, children are free to work with the activities. At the elementary level, you can also expect to see children working on projects together, since collaboration at this age helps the child to become socially adapted to society and aware of the needs of others.
What you will not see in a genuine Montessori program are systems of rewards and punishments to promote work or control behavior. There will be no loss recess, gold stars or grades. In a Montessori class, children are engaged, active and respectful because they are internally motivated, spending their time in an environment that consistently supports development of their will - that is positive willpower and self-control. What is the advantage of having a three-year age span in the classroom?
Children have a wide range of experiences, skills, abilities and interests. A three-year age span in the classroom allows children the opportunity to use a wide range of engaging materials that keep them challenged to learn. As the child's interests change, the range of available materials allows the child to move form one level of complexity to another. Additionally, younger children learn from the older children through example, and older children gain confidence and affirmation of their knowledge by helping the younger children. It is a win-win for all the children in a Montessori classroom.How is discipline handled in a Montessori classroom?
It is the development of self-discipline that is encouraged and valued. By maintaining a carefully prepared, structured environment that encourages exploration, creativity and choice with clear boundaries, the child learns self-control and problem-solving skills that foster independence and responsibility. In this setting, discipline is viewed as a maturation process that evolves, supported by guidance from the teacher. With gentle, prudent assistance, children eventually become comfortable and equipped to accept the consequences of their own behavior. Skilled, AMI-trained teachers use Montessori materials and activities to promote a classroom atmosphere that reinforces personal discipline and harmony by offering each child the opportunity to gain a sense of direction, confidence, cooperation and self-control.Why is there such a non-competitive atmosphere in Montessori programs when we live in such a competitive world?
The emphasis in a Montessori classroom is on assisting and supporting children to develop and learn based on their own interests, desires and timing. Attention is also paid to promoting collaborative social and educational relationships that enhance learning through shared ideas and insights. Thanks to the mixed age groups, children have the opportunity to be learners and teachers simultaneously. This allows a child to experience the joy of providing leadership to those who are younger and the satisfaction of receiving useful assistance from those who are older or more skilled.
In a Montessori program, children are on their own journey at their own pace toward maturity, acquisition of skills and incorporation of knowledge. Using systems of rewards in the classroom distracts a child's personal journey by intentionally directing his or her attention to the progress of other children. Ultimately, many studies have shown that competition inspired through the environment does little to build confidence or strengthen internal motivation and self-direction over the long-term. There certainly are situations where competitive activities can move children to greater efforts and improved skills, but as Maria Montessori stated, "The prize and the punishment are incentives toward unnatural or forced effort and therefore we certainly cannot speak of the natural development of the child in connection with them." Do children have difficulty transitioning to a public school after going to a Montessori school?
Moving from a Montessori school to another school setting is an issue often raised by parents and family members. Happily, the habits and skills a child develops in a Montessori class last a lifetime and stand a child in good stead no matter where they go. Montessori children tend to be adaptable, working well alone or with a group. They have solid decision-making skills, practical problem solving abilities and generally manage their time well. Since children in a Montessori classroom are also encouraged to share ideas and discuss their work, fitting into new situations is made easier thanks to good communication skills.Is a child in Montessori programs prepared to take state required examinations?
Yes, children in Montessori programs are required to meet state regulations. We recognize that our students need to have this kind of test taking experience for future school experiences. Children in most Montessori programs begin taking standardized tests in the early elementary years. At Oak Hill Montessori our students begin taking a nationally normed acheivement test (Iowa Test of Basic Skills) in second grade. Even though the curriculum in a Montessori program does not necessarily match the traditional curriculum from the standpoint of grade levels, the composite scores of our students are well above average. The information we glean from these results can help teachers evaluate, individualize and improve instruction.