1. What is the Montessori Method of Education?

The Montessori method is an approach to learning that stimulates the child’s interests and facilitates his/her understanding and learning capacities.  The Montessori approach is developmental whereby children are challenged, but not frustrated, by the presentation of appropriate learning experiences.

2.  Who started the Montessori Method?

Dr. Maria Montessori, Italy’s first woman medical doctor, used her scientific background to observe children.  Based on her observations, she developed unique materials, a child-centered environment, and a philosophy that stressed respect for the child, freedom of expression, self-education, and training through the use of movement and senses.

3.  What is in a Montessori classroom?

The Montessori classroom is a carefully prepared environment; it is a child-sized world.  A Montessori classroom has carefully selected materials that allow a child to move from simple activities to more complex ones.  Through this process, the child’s natural curiosity is satisfied and he/she begins to experience the joy of discovering the world around him/her.

The materials are experiential; the children work with them, using all of their senses to learn and discover.  For example, in Language, a child might use sandpaper letters, sort objects according to the beginning sound, use the movable alphabet to spell a word, trace an object to learn pencil control, or write the word.  The children experience and discover the concept through sight, sound and touch.

4. What is the role of the Montessori teacher?

The Montessori teacher facilitates the classroom activity.  He/she carefully plans the environment in the interests of the children, and he/she helps the children progress from one activity to another.  The teacher is trained to deal with each child individually and encourages a child to work independently.

5. Do children socialize and do group work as
     well as independent development activities?

Yes, socialization is very much a part of the Montessori method.  In the classroom, children interact giving encouragement, modeling cooperative learning, and working on projects together.  Each day, the children have circle time, outdoor playtime, and an enrichment activity as a group.

6. Is parent involvement encouraged?

We encourage parent involvement through observations, conferences, discussions, and periodic progress reports.  The staff feels that the more parents understand the experiences of the child in the classroom, the better able they are to continue the learning process at home.

7. What are "sensitive periods"?
"Sensitive periods" were Montessori's name for the age periods when the child shows unusual capabilities in acquiring particular skills. For example, the sensitive period for writing is between 3 and 1/2 and 4 and 1/2 years of age for the average child, learning to read and number recognition at the age of 4 and 5, precise movement and coordination 2 and 1/2 to 4, and acquiring a sense of order 2 and 1/2 to 3 and 1/2 years of age.
8. What is the Montessori concept of discipline?

Conflicts arise naturally out of interaction between different people.  The balance of freedom and responsibilities found in the Montessori classroom teaches each child to have respect for self, for others, for the classroom, and for the materials.  In addition, with guidance from teachers and staff, children at each level are taught conflict resolution skills.  Montessori discipline is an "inner discipline"; an inner control which the child develops over his/her own behavior through working with Montessori materials. Dr. Montessori noted that many so-called undisciplined children were really frustrated because of the lack of proper stimulation and inadequate opportunity to achieve. She noted that they became happier and self-controlled after a period of time in a Montessori class in which they experienced challenging tasks absorbing their energies and resulting in a sense of achievement.

9. What do I do if my child doesn't transition
     well?

The transfer to/from Montessori is generally quite smooth.  There is, of course, an initial adjustment period, just as there is in any transfer between schools.  Academic success is not affected by the transition from Montessori to a traditional school.  If a child has difficulty transitioning well, it is important to look at the root of the problem. Is it boredom? Is the relationship with the teacher or other students strained for some reason? Is the structure of the program not successful for your child's learning styles? Overall, trust your child and communicate with him or her to get to the root of what is going on. Trust your own instincts as well, and advocate for your child, even if it isn't congruent with messages you receive from the school. Parents are the experts when it comes to their own children.

Once the problem is identified, work cooperatively with the school and the teacher to address the problems at hand until they are resolved. Good schools and teachers are always concerned with what is in the best interests of each child over inconvenience.

Montessori educated children are generally very flexible and adjust quite easily to public schools.  They are often better students and spend their time in more productive ways because they are self-directed and have a positive attitude toward learning.

10. With all this freedom, isn't there confusion?

The concept of freedom within the classroom is a freedom within limits.  A child is allowed to work freely as long as the ground rules are followed.  Because children have the freedom to follow their own interests, they are generally happy and busily involved with their work.

11. Are Montessori schools religious?

Montessori is not affiliated with any religious orientation or denomination.  We honor and respect all religions.  Montessori is part of the educational mainstream, as evident by the growing number of graduate-level programs in Montessori education and increasing popularity of Montessori in the public schools.

 
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