Frequently Asked Questions About Montessori Education

Q: How does a Montessori classroom work?

Montessori classrooms are open and orderly. Work materials are neatly and beautifully
displayed on the shelves throughout the classroom. Classroom materials, lessons and activities are carefully matched to the educational and developmental needs of the children using the classroom. Students receive lessons from a trained Montessori teacher in all areas of the curriculum. The majority of the learning occurs when the child takes the lesson out independently and practises using the materials. Every activity is carefully laid out on the shelf , and the child must receive a lesson on that activity before he or she can used it. Behind all of those little activities on the shelf are four years worth of curriculum lessons. The role of the teacher is simply to carefully link the child to the materials and then to step back and allow the child to work with the materials independently. The children absorb an incredible amount of information from their classmates who are working on their individual lessons throughout the classroom. By the time the 5 year old receives his or her first lesson on the decimal system he or she may have seen that lesson practised hundreds of times by other classmates over his or her last two years in the classroom.

Q: Is it true that children can do what they want in a Montessori classroom?

While children are allowed to make their own work choices, to walk freely around the classroom, and to interact with each other, they are also expected to follow rules of conduct. Children earn their independence and freedom during classroom time through personal responsibility, cooperation, self-control and respect for others. Freedom is limited when children don’t practise personal responsibility and respect for the class community rules.

One of the main premises behind a Montessori education is the child’s freedom to make his or her own work choices. The child learns in a far more efficient manner when he or she is able to choose the activity that interests them the most. The child learns to independently initiate a work choice, complete the piece of work and return it to the shelf so that it is ready for another member of the community.
We know of no other educational philosophy that is as democratic in allowing the children to self-develop.

Q: If children are free to choose their own work, how do you ensure that they receive a well rounded education?

Montessori children are free to choose within limits, and have only as much freedom as they can handle with appropriate responsibility. The classroom teacher and assistant ensure that children do not interfere with each other, and that each child is progressing at her appropriate pace in all subjects.

Q: Why is there a mix of ages in a Montessori classroom?

The multi-year age mix is an extremely important facet of Montessori education. In a Montessori classroom, the youngest children benefit from the help and example of the older children in the classroom. With time, they will progress to the middle level and finally become the older children who are more experienced and knowledgeable. They become helpers to their teachers and classmates and are able to recognize their gains in development. The older children benefit from assisting the younger children in the classroom as they can review and consolidate their own information. This multi-year cycle is crucial for the social and intellectual development of the children in a Montessori classroom community.

Dr. Montessori learned that children in the same age ranges (generally spanning three to four years) have the same characteristics in their development and learning. Accordingly, these children naturally group together and are innately suited for the same type of classroom community.

Q: Montessori classrooms don’t look like regular classrooms? Where are the rows of desks? Where does the teacher stand?

The arrangement of a Montessori classroom reflects the difference between the Montessori method of education and traditional education. The classroom is set up to allow for child-centered teaching as opposed to having the teacher be at the center of the classroom acting as the focal point, with children dependent on her for their information and activity. The teacher circulates around the room giving lessons and resolving issues as they arise, and the children work at tables or floor mats where they can spread out their materials.

Q: How are children evaluated?

The Montessori teacher keeps careful records of the lessons shown, repeated and mastered. The Assistant in the classroom is a big help in this regard as he or she is trained to carefully observe the children in the classroom also. Notes are kept on what the child may be struggling with or need additional support with.

Q: How are children corrected?

Most of the materials in a Montessori classroom are designed to be self-correcting. For example, the knobbed cylinder piece will not fit if it is placed in the wrong hole in the cylinder block. Some materials require a repetition of the work cycle so that a visual disharmony will be noted over time. This allows the child the dignity of correcting and solving his or her own problems. An older child in the classroom can also participate in helping a younger child – and often has an innate ability to know exactly how long to wait before helping the younger child with a problem. The Montessori teacher or assistant can also note an error that the child is making and choose to re-teach the lessonor to “have a turn” with the child at another time. This allows the child to develop the necessary self-confidence to take risks, problem solve and to develop a lifelong love of learning. The teacher’s objective is to teach the right way, not to criticize the wrong way of doing a lesson.

Q: Are Montessori schools as academically rigorous as traditional schools?

Yes; Montessori classrooms encourage deep learning of the concepts behind academic skills, rather than rote practise of abstract techniques. The success of our students appears in the experiences of our alumni, who compete succesfully with traditionally educated students in a variety of high schools and universities.

Q: Who can open a Montessori school? Is it a franchise?

The term Montessori is not trademarked and anyone, regardless of training, experience or affiliation can open a “Montessori” school. It is essential that parents researching Montessori act as good consumers to ensure the authenticity of their chosen program.

Q: Who accredits Montessori schools?

The Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) is the only organization in the world founded by Dr. Montessori to protect the integrity of her educational philosophy. LIttle Flower Montessori School is one of approximately 3 schools in Broward County to have membership in this organization. This organization was formed in 1929 by Dr. Montessori to uphold the quality of teacher training and the passing on of Dr. Montessori’s educational philosophy and methodology.

Q: Do children have difficulty transitioning to a traditional 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.

* this answer taken directly from the AMIUSA.ORG website

Q; Are Montessori children successful later in life?

Research studies show that Montessori children are well prepared for later life academically, socially, and emotionally. In addition to scoring well on standardized tests, Montessori children are ranked above average on such criteria as following directions, turning in work on time, listening attentively, using basic skills, showing responsibility, asking provocative questions, showing enthusiasm for learning, and adapting to new situations.

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