FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONSFAQ
I hear that Montessori schools are rigid and don’t provide enough freedom? Or I hear they allow too much freedom. What is the answer?
Children have freedom but they also have limits and responsibilities. They have a lot of freedom to choose what they like to do, where they like to sit, who they’d like to do it with, and when to get up and choose something different. But it’s not a free-for-all. Responsibility is always the other side of freedom.
There are definite expectations on how children should comport themselves. The general rule of thumb is that there must be respect, respect for the environment, respect for the materials, respect for each other. I think that the work they do here and the freedom with responsibility makes those things come more easily to them than the kind of things that are done in traditional classrooms.
What do you say to someone who wonders if their child will do well in a Montessori School?
The Montessori method is for every child but may not be for every parent. There are many misconceptions about Montessori. I encourage parents to do some research, observe 2-3 schools, Montessori and traditional, and decide for themselves if a Montessori education is what they want for their child.
How can a Montessori education benefit my child?
Montessori offers the best chance any child has to achieve his or her potential. That’s because Montessori works from the inside out. It’s not just a learn this, taking in kind of method. It’s a whole organization of the child physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually that allows the child to become his or her very best self.
How academic are Montessori preschools?
Preschool children are not required to read but it is introduced and they have the opportunity to go further with it. I think it depends on the interests and developments of the individual child.
All subjects are introduced in the primary (3-6 years old) class. However, the primary developmental goal of this age is functional independence. Most children begin reading and have an understanding of the decimal system. Development of the intellect and academic achievement are major developmental goals of the elementary child.
Montessori encourages high academic achievement since working with Montessori materials and activities that interest the child is what develops concentration and a love of learning — and work.
Why are there no tests or grades?
Because there is no need for them. All of the work is sequential. So either they can do it or they need to do more work on it. They then move on when they’re ready. There’s no need for tests, and grades are not helpful for children or, for that matter, anyone.
Why are the classes mixed ages?
Children are divided by developmental goals, stages or planes. Each stage/plane has a major developmental goal, so those ages are grouped together. This correlates with cognitive development. One of the goals of the elementary child is mental/intellectual independence. A primary goal of adolescence is finding meaning, and being able to develop how to contribute to society. Montessori considers childhood to last through age 24. By then, a person should be ready to work and contribute to the economy and community.
How do we discipline?
The first step in discipline in a Montessori classroom is to be proactive by preparing an environment that meets the developmental needs of the children – ”I can do it myself.” This “prepared environment” is organized and set up so that the child can be as independent as possible. For children from birth to age six, the developmental goal is functional independence. The major goal of children between six and twelve is intellectual independence, gaining knowledge and understanding of the world.
The prepared environment is filled with “work” that is aesthetically pleasing, interesting, and meaningful to the child. Satisfying work that meets inner needs prevents disruptive behavior.
Secondly, we give lessons in “Grace and Courtesy. These lessons include learning respect for the environment and respect for others, as well as how to ask for a lesson, how to observe another child working, how to join in, and common formalized etiquette such as saying, ”Please,” and “Thank you.” When a child’s own needs for respect and consideration are met, respect and consideration are easily given to others. When children have difficulty choosing work, help is provided or they may choose to sit quietly and consider what they would like to do next.
When conflicts arise between children, Nonviolent Communication is used to help children express their feelings, needs, and requests, i.e., “When you touch my work, I feel mad (sad, upset) because I need respect for my work and my space. Will you keep your hands to yourself?” The other child may apologize and agree to the request or express his own interest and desire to have a turn to do the work.
When children are unable to follow the rules, be respectful, or keep themselves and others safe, they may be asked to sit separately, observe, and consider how they would like to go forward. Or they may be required to stay close to a teacher.
Gaining mastery over oneself physically, emotionally, and mentally is a major step toward independence and freedom. Montessori work engages the child physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, aiding in the development of discipline and self-mastery.
Discipline is the key to freedom…Freedom is not the ability to do whatever you want. Freedom is the strength of character to do what is good, true, noble, and right. Freedom is the ability to choose and celebrate the-best-version-of-yourself in every moment. Freedom without discipline is impossible.” – Matthew Kelly
What kind of lunch and snack do you suggest my child brings?
We always encourage nutritious foods — and food that the child likes. Plus, send the amount that your child normally eats. If they normally eat two sandwiches, pack two sandwiches. If they only eat half a sandwich, then pack just that amount.
“The child can only develop by means of experience in his environment. We call such experience work.”
– Dr. Maria Montessori
“The child has a different relation to his environment from ours. the child absorbs it. The things he sees are not just remembered; they form part of his soul.”
– Dr. Maria Montessori
“Watching a childmakes it obvious thatthe development of hismind comes throughhis movements.”
– Dr. Maria Montessori