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Frequently Asked Questions


What is Montessori?


Montessori is a philosophy based on the fundamental tenet that a child learns best when in a social environment which supports each individual's unique development.


How did it begin?


Dr. Maria Montessori, the creator of what is called "The Montessori Method of Education, "based this method on her observations of young children's behavior in 1907.

Montessori's dynamic theories include such permises as:

a. Children are to be respected as different from adults and as individuals who are different from one another.

b. Children create themselves through purposeful activity.

c. The most importatnt years for learning are from birth to age six.

d. Children possess unusual sensitivity and mental powers for absorbing and learning from their environment, which include people as well as materials.


What makes Montessori education unique?


a. The "whole child" approach. The primay goal of a Montessori program is to help each child reach full potential in all areas of life.

b. The "prepared environment." In order for self-directed learning to take place, the whole learning environment-room, materials and social climate must be a supporter of the learner.

c. The Montessori materials. Dr. Montessori's observations led her to design a number of multi-sensory, sequential and self correcting materials which facilitate the learning of skills and concepts.

d. The teacher. After extensive training, the Montessori teacher functions as a facilitator of learning, designer of the environment, resource person, role model, demonstrator, record keeper and meticulous observer of each child's behavior and growth.


How does it work?


Each Montessori class operates on the principal of freedom within limits. Each program has its set of ground rules. The rules differ from age to age, but are always based on respect for each other and for the environment.


Children are free to work at their own pace in a carefully prepared classroom with materials they have chosen, either alone or with others. The aim is to encourage active, self-directed learning and to strike a balance of individual mastery with small group collaboration within the whole group community.


The three year age span in each class provides a family-like grouping. More experienced children share what they have learned while reinforcing their own learning. This peer group learning is intrinsic to Montessori.


How is creativity encouraged?


Montessorians recognize that each child learns to express himself in a very individual way. Music, art, storytelling, movement and drama are part of every Montessori program. There is an emphasis on the sensory aspect of experience and there is opportunity for both verbal and nonverbal models of learning.


How do you know how well your child is doing?


Each student will receive progress report evaluations twice a year along with teacher conferences.


What happens when a child leaves Montessori?


Montessori children are very adaptable and have learned to work independently and in groups. They've been encouraged to make decisions from an early age and are problem-solvers who can manage their time well.


Research has shown that the best predictor of future success is a sense of self-esteem. Montessori programs, based on self-directed, non-competitive activites, help children develop good self-images and the confidence to face challenges and change with optimism.


Are all Montessori schools the same?


The Montessori name is not protected; theoretically, anyone can hang out a sign that says "Montessori school." Some schools have teachers that have trained in Montessori methods, but they blend that with other, more conventional curriculum.


Schools should be affiliated with one of the Montessori organizations. Five major Montessori organizations exist in the United States: The Association Montessori Internationale (AMI), North American Montessori Teacher's Association (NAMTA), the Montessori Institute of America (MIA), the Pan American Montessori Society (PAMS), North American Montessori Center (NAMC), American Montessori Society (AMS). Each of these organizations train Montessori teachers in child development and in the Montessori philosophy and methods. Generally two year training programs are offered for persons who have finished a B.A. degree. The training programs are a combination of classroom and independent study and an internship at a Montessori school.

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