Montessori East FAQ
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Montessori a type of religious school? No. But certain universal principles normally associated with spirituality such as respect for self and others, kindness, and teaching peaceful problem-solving skills (between children) are important aspects of Montessori. We also stop for a moment of gratitude before eating.
How can children learn when they are allowed to move around the classroom and are allowed to pick what they want to do? The school environment encourages self-discipline and self-directed learning. This type of learning causes what is learned to be truly known and taken in. Montessori classrooms depend on a delicate balance between freedom and limits that mirror the balance of everyday society. For example, a child is free to move about the room, but he must do so carefully and quietly so as not to disturb his fellow classmates. He doesn’t mind living within the balance because he benefits from it. Montessori East seeks to provide an environment which nurtures optimal and holistic development while encouraging academic excellence.
How does the multi-age classroom benefit my child? The children, at each respective level, are in the same plane of development according to Dr. Montessori and other child psychologists. Therefore, they benefit from learning with and from one another. Additionally, creating friendships and collaborations with individuals that are not our exact age is more reflective of natural society. When the children tutor one another, they learn how to teach, learn leadership skills and acquire a greater understanding of the content they are teaching. All children receive individualized instruction. The whole outcome is a sense of belonging, community, and empowerment.
A Montessori daily schedule seems limited. Is there circle time? Snack time? Etc.? In a Montessori classroom children come together as a class to discuss class issues, celebrate birthdays or have cultural learning experiences. These times are in response to the needs of the community built by the children in the classroom. They may not happen everyday and they may not be for very long when they do happen. Children under the age of 7 function best working and learning in small groups or independently. A typical day for a Montessori child can include music, geography, a snack time, a rest time, counting, adding, building, listening, observing other children, working with puzzles, learning about animals, having enriching conversations, making art, etc. These wonderful activities will occur at different times each day, in differing intervals, and on different levels of difficulty each day depending on the child's interest. One work cycle may be filled with activities like the list above and one work cycle may be spent doing one or two beautiful pieces of work.
What kind of “specials” are included? (PE, Music, Art, etc.)? Uninterrupted work cycles, where the child is free to choose their own work and achieve deep concentration are a pillar of what we do in Montessori education. Interrupting those cycles for large group, specialized activities limits the integrity of the child's day in a Montessori program. Not all children will want to sing or paint or speak Spanish at the same time, and, as Montessorians, we feel that interest and desire must be present for a truly enriching experience. At Montessori East we feel physical education, music, and art are not separate from a high quality education, but part of it. We take a holistic view of education and our curriculum is designed to educate the whole child. We integrate physical education, music, and art into the child’s experience. We offer special guest musicians, guest language instructors, and other well-rounded guides with many talents and interests to share.
Are the children encouraged to be creative? Art is always available in the classroom and music/singing is part of the daily experience. Practical Life materials encompass art and expression. Sewing, painting, drawing, and sculpting with clay are a few examples of the media children engage with in expressing themselves creatively.
How do I know and how does the teacher know where my child is in the learning process if there are no tests? Based on observation and practice alongside the child, our lead guides keep a log of which materials each child has mastered. Parent-teacher conferences are held twice during the school year. A parent is also always welcome to make a parent-teacher appointment to discuss their child’s progress. Your child’s progress is consistently monitored and recorded without the stress of traditional testing methods.
Can I come into my child's classroom whenever I want? Yes. We ask, however, that if parents want to visit their child during the school day, they schedule a time in advance with their child’s guide. There are three reasons we ask this. One is that children ages 3-6 are still very young and very affected by the presence of a parent. It can make young children sad because they don't have their own parent for a visit or sad upon their parent's departure. We want to protect the children from these feelings at school so they may have a peaceful day filled with learning and socializing. The second reason is the uninterrupted work cycle. This time for children to explore our beautiful specialized materials uninterrupted and experience true concentration is integral to Montessori and is protected as much as possible. Parent observations of the work cycles can be scheduled with our office. The third is the same reason why you might not stop by a friend's house unannounced. In Montessori, each classroom community is a household, a complete unit. This is why Dr. Maria Montessori called it the Casa dei Bambini, the Children's House. If you were home with your family playing or eating and someone opened the door to your house, that might startle you. It too startles the children. But if we have a little notice, even the same day, we will welcome you with open arms!
In our toddler classroom, we ask, out of respect for the youngest among us that if you need to see your child during the school day, you give us notice so that he/she may greet you in the office. We ask this because children ages 0-3 are very affected by the presence of any parent. They can become sad because they don't have their own parent for a visit or sad upon their parent's departure. We want to protect the children from these feelings at school so they may have a peaceful day filled with learning and socializing.
Can I view my child's lesson plan to track his progress? All children at Montessori East have a work plan. There are several methods of maintaining the plans used over the scope of the practice. The materials the children in a Montessori classroom use are highly specialized and won't be found in any other curriculum. Our training as Montessori guides is extremely rigorous with regards to when and how we offer them to the children. We want parents to be familiar with what their child is doing and with the amazing materials we offer. We feel the best way to do so, rather than sharing a lesson plan, is to answer questions via email, quickly during dismissal, or over the phone until 4:30, or by appointment. We can meet with parents, if face to face time is needed. A great way to learn more about the Montessori curriculum and how to communicate about it with your child is to attend Parent Education nights. These nights will give you more insight into our highly specialized materials, how they are used and which materials are being used by your child. We utilize online software to communicate photos and descriptions of the lessons your child is receiving and enjoying. Additionally, conference forms are provided at each Parent Conference which shows your child’s progress.
Why is a year-long agreement necessary? Attending Montessori East for at least one full year highly benefits your child’s learning process. A full year allows your child time to mature towards confidence and empowerment in the classroom, to receive the most out of the incremental and sequential lessons, and is the best way for our guides to provide the highest quality education possible. Please keep in my mind we have the best interest of your child and family at heart. In the instance where a major family change takes place, such as a move out of the area or an extended period of unemployment, we will work with you to modify your agreement.
How are Gifted and Special Needs addressed? At Montessori East, we feel strongly that all children have their own special needs and we address those individual needs daily. Wherever your child is in the learning/development process is the building point on which the next knowledge and skills are explored and developed. This is true every step of the way, in every subject area and in every child. All children are challenged. Regardless of personal learning differences, this is a place where your child can thrive to the fullest. We have an intervention process in place that is followed, in concert with parents, as needed.
Are Montessori schools much different from one another? The quality of education your child may receive at one Montessori school may differ vastly from the quality at another school claiming to be a Montessori school. Unfortunately, any school can claim to be a Montessori school; there is no law mandating you must actually apply the Montessori Method, in whole or in part, or have the necessary highly-trained accredited teachers. Montessori is an intricate teaching method designed to make a child’s learning easy. Its teachers must be highly trained and all of the Method applied in order to achieve the value of a true Montessori education. Fortunately, you have found a wonderful Montessori school that conscientiously adheres to all of the Montessori Method (this is KEY), has highly accredited teaching staff, and is 100% committed to the very best experience possible for you and your child.
To begin in Primary, does my child have to be toilet trained? A child entering a Primary classroom at Montessori East needs to be familiar with bathroom independence, dressing themselves and able to attend in underpants. We will assist your child in remembering to “give it a try”. Accidents happen, but a beginning young child is often inspired as they watch the other children successfully enjoy independence in this area.
For more about Montessori education, please visit this glossary compiled by Association Montessori International (AMI): www.montessori-ami.org/articles/Glossary.pdf