Questions & Answers

1.     What is the Montessori Method of Education?

The Montessori method of education is basically a unique approach to learning. Rather than ‘teaching’ the child concepts, an environment is designed to stimulate the child’s interest and facilitate his understanding and learning capacities spontaneously with little or no adult intervention. It is a philosophy based on the work of Dr. Maria Montessori. It emphasizes the potential of the young child and develops this potential by utilizing specially designed didactic teaching materials and specially trained teachers.

Montessori observed that children had a natural curiosity and desire to learn.  The materials in a Montessori classroom are designed to awaken this desire and direct curiosity into a positive learning experience. Each piece of material is designed to concretely lead children into the understanding of a concept. The role of the Montessori teacher or director is to provide a stimulating environment and direct the children toward concepts that they are developmentally ready for.

2.     What is the purpose of the Montessori Method?

The main purpose of the Montessori Method is to develop an environment where the child can unfold spontaneously and manifest the greater person within. According to Maria Montessori, “The child is the father of the man.” As the child begins to develop this inner self, his love of life and learning expands continuously.

3.     Who started the Montessori Method?

Dr. Maria Montessori, over 70 years ago, was Italy’s first woman medical doctor.  Using her scientific background, she began observing children in the “Casa de Bambini”, “or children’s houses of Rome”. Based on her unbiased observations, she developed unique materials, a child-centered environment, and was one of the first persons to revolutionize educational thought by stressing respect for the child, freedom of expression, self-education, and training through use of movement and the senses.

4. What is the difference between Daycare, Nursery School and Preschool?

Daycare Centers are generally for the purpose of caring for children on an all-day basis. Nursery Schools are generally experiences in socialization and play. Pre-schools are oriented toward educational experiences combined with socialization and play.

5. Why should I send my child to Preschool?

Most educators and psychologists today agree that the single most important period in the development of a person’s intelligence occurs between birth and age five. A child’s mind is extremely absorbent and his curiosity is at a peak during these early years. When properly nourished and stimulated the child’s mind forms patterns for learning that serve him well throughout his life. The Montessori system of preschool education has proven to be one of the most effective and fastest growing methods to guide a child through these critical years.

In most preschools, the children are taught educational concepts in a group, by a teacher. In a Montessori Preschool, the children learn concepts spontaneously as they work independently with the many self-correcting materials in the environment. Consequently the environment is upgraded and non-competitive, allowing children to progress at their own pace and providing them the opportunity to attain their full potential both emotionally and academically.

6.     Are All Montessori Schools The Same?

No. Anyone can use the term Montessori when opening up a school, so it is very important to be familiar with the philosophy and visit any school you may be considering. A school which is true to the Montessori philosophy and methodology should be replete with all the specified Montessori materials appropriate for the age of the children. The environment should be well cared for and stimulating and the classroom teachers should be trained by a recognized Montessori training center. The school’s ultimate focus should be respect for the child as an individual and a creator.

7.     What is in a Montessori Classroom?

The Montessori classroom is a child-size world. Whatever is in the world outside can be incorporated meaningfully into the Montessori classrooms. To a child, the world is unmanageable.  It is too big, too complex and too confusing. By careful selection of materials by the Directress, an environment is set up that allows the child to explore life at a level he can understand. The materials or exercises are designed to stimulate independent exploration. This prepared environment entices the child to proceed at his own pace from simple activities to more complex ones. Through this process the child’s natural curiosity is satisfied and he begins to experience the joy of discovering the world about him. Materials and curriculum center around: Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, Math, Geography, Science, Art, Music, Foreign Language and Computer Study.

8.     How do children interact in the environment?

Children develop a sense of pride in their “work”, a feeling of confidence and well being. Joy begins to manifest itself in the child.  A “new child” is born. A classroom of Montessori children is a joy to watch. There seems to be a spirit of respect, love and cooperation among the children that is not found too often.

9.     What is the role of the Montessori’s teacher?

The Montessori teacher is called a directress because she facilitates the classroom activity. She carefully plans the environment in the interest of the children and helps the children progress from one activity to the next. She is trained to deal with each child individually allowing him/her to choose from many activities within his/her range of ability. She stands back while a child is working and allows the child the satisfaction of his/her own discovery.

10.   With all the freedom~ isn’t there confusion?

The concept of freedom within the classroom is one of “freedom with limits.” A child is allowed to work freely so long as he or she does not disturb others. Actually, the children having the freedom to follow their interests are generally happy and busily involved with their work.

11.  What about socialization and group work?

Socialization is very much a part of the Montessori method. In the classroom you’ll notice children interacting continuously, choosing to work on projects together and older children helping younger ones.  Each day there is some group activity and play outside.

12.   Who is the Montessori Method designed for?

The Montessori method is an “approach to learning” and as such has no distinction of class or intelligence. It has been used successfully in all parts of the world and in all types of programs, (i.e. Head Start, gifted children, mentally retarded, average children, and etc.)

13. Isn’t Montessori expensive?

Tuition in Montessori preschools throughout the country is sometimes higher than other preschools because of the extensive materials, special environment, curriculum and trained staff. It is, however, a very reasonable cost in contrast to other activities you would plan for yourself and your child. It becomes a matter of what you value most. To give your child the finest possible experience in his/her most sensitive years is to give him a strong foundation throughout his/her life and probably ward off investment later to correct or remedy that which was missed. Many educators believe that it is wiser to invest in a child’s preschool education than in his college education. The child who enjoys learning and becomes self-directed at the critical preschool age will benefit through all his/her years of learning.

14. How do Montessori Children adjust to public schools?

Children who have had a sound Montessori education are generally motivated, self-disciplined, confident, and have a love of learning. As a result they are able to adjust easily to many new situations. Children who have been in a Montessori environment are actually very flexible and adjust quite easily to the public school situation. They are generally better students and spend their time in more productive ways because of their self-direction and positive attitude towards learning.

15.   What is the best age to start a child?

Recent psychological studies based on controlled research have confirmed the theories of Dr. Montessori.  After analyzing thousands of such studies, Dr. Benjamin S. Bloom of the University of Chicago wrote In Stability and Change in Human Characteristics: “From conception to age 4, the individual develops 50% of his mature intelligence from ages 4-8, develops another 30%…” “This would suggest the very rapid growth of intelligence in the early years and the great influence of the early environment on this development”.  Maria Montessori also observed that a child of early preschool age is sensitive to order, coordination, concentration and independence. Therefore, it is ideal to begin a child in a Montessori program between 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 years of age so that their development, sensitivities and intellectual needs are considered. This will provide them with a strong foundation for future learning and living.

16.   Do you encourage parent involvement in the school?

We encourage parent involvement through conference, observation, discussions, regular newsletters and parent nights. The staff feels that the more parents can understand the experience of the child in the classroom, the better able they are to follow through at home. When parents follow through at home, the child benefits even more because he has a consistent environment in which to grow.