Commonly Asked Questions
1. What is Montessori?
Montessori is a holistic educational pedagogy developed by Dr. Maria Montessori that aims to develop self-motivation and independence in the child. It is a child-centered approach based on scientific observations of children from birth through adulthood. Montessori communities are guided by teachers whom present hands-on lessons to children based on their abilities and interests. Children in Montessori communities often have the freedom to make more choices within the limits of the classroom and materials; this freedom helps children develop independence and responsibility.
Montessori classrooms are designed for mixed-age grouping of children that allows for both individual and increased social development. For this reason, traits of leadership and mentorship are prized by the older children. The community fosters learning and growth for each child, and children strive to master challenging lessons due to intrinsic motivation. Classrooms are carefully prepared, with work areas located throughout the room as well as outside; beautiful materials and curated lessons are available on accessible, child-sized shelving. The majority of Montessori lessons themselves contain self-evident controls of error that indicate to the child if the lesson has been incorrectly completed. By including measures that inspire self-correction, children are more likely to persevere to successfully complete the lesson. Furthermore, teachers need not provide excessive negative feedback since the child is able to assess the culmination of their own efforts.
2. How is Montessori education different?
Montessori education is different in several ways!
In Montessori, children are taught the most common phonetic sound for each letter first, usually around ages 2.5 to 3.5 years. Learning the phonetic sounds for letters (instead of the letter names. which they will learn later) prepares children for early reading. Children also tend to learn the cursive alphabet prior to learning print in Montessori. There are several reasons children are exposed to cursive first, and encouraged to write in cursive: cursive letters are easier to differentiate among, unlike the printed letters “b”, “d”, “p”, and “q” for example. Cursive letters are easier to form when writing, and require less lifting and re-positioning of the pencil to form a word or phrase than printing does. Children also learn print, and they tend to have minimal difficulty learning print after cursive.
Communities consist of mixed age groups rather than individual ages or grades. This has a few distinct advantages. Mixed age groups assist in social development while reducing unhealthy competition. Children of mixed ages understandably have mixed strengths, weaknesses, and general abilities; the presence of mixed abilities therefore aids in diminishing unhealthy competition since children are simultaneously pursuing a variety of lessons covering many topics. Montessori education also uses these mixed abilities to facilitate an environment where children can both mentor and be mentored. Mentoring another fosters community and respect for one another, while also cementing and building upon one’s own knowledge.
Montessori education also follows the child. Teachers proceed at the child’s pace (not rushing the child, and not holding back a child) by giving children freedom to work on lessons in the order, or at the time of day they would like to (within reason). Children may be guided to choose a lesson they need further practice with, but if a child is constructively working on a geometry lesson, we try and respect that concentration and not interrupt them by insisting that it is now “Science time”.
3. Are there any studies that show benefits of Montessori education compared to the Traditional education model?
Absolutely! There are several studies that show benefits of Montessori including a randomized trial that studied 5 year-olds and 12 year-olds. This particular study compared endpoints over several dimensions including vocabulary, applied math, executive function, creative writing, and psycho-social development. We have a small library of compiled studies available for your perusal at our campus–come in and review the exciting findings.
4. Can a child integrate into a traditional school after being in Montessori?
Yes. Many children go on to traditional schooling and not only do well, but excel. Montessori education help foster independence, curiosity, and resilience in children–these traits help prepare children for whatever may come next, whether it is a traditional school, the next program in our Montessori school, an international move…Montessori children tend to be able to adapt to environments more easily.
5. How is your school unique?
As a modern Montessori school, we incorporate STEM materials alongside the traditional Montessori materials throughout all of our programs. In Elementary, we begin introducing lessons that involve technology. These lessons supplement and compliment the traditional Montessori lessons, and like all lessons in Montessori, they are presented according to the child’s unique interests, abilities, and age.
Our assessment of children is based on their ability to understand and/or execute a concept or task. Overall, the emphasis is generally placed on the process of learning, instead of solely the resulting product. Instead of simply assigning number and letter grades upon the completion of an assignment as a measure of assessing achievement and ability, teachers tend to observe and guide throughout the entire process of the lesson. In Primary, teachers even begin to elicit feedback from the child about their thoughts on their work and the effort put forth.
6. Do your teachers have Montessori certification?
Each lead teacher of each class is either Montessori certified or actively working to complete their Montessori certification. You can refer to our staff page of our staff webpage for more information of each teacher’s lovely unique experience and background.
7. Is your Montessori school accredited?
We are in the process of seeking accreditation for all of our programs through the Georgia Accreditation Commission. Our school has been open just over one year this March, and typically, it takes 2-3 years to become a fully accredited Montessori school.
8. Is your Elementary program accredited?
We are currently applying for Georgia Accreditation Commission (GAC) this year; they are scheduled to visit our campus this August. Following this visit, the GAC meets each Fall and Spring to review schools’ applications for accreditation. Once accredited, the accreditation will apply to that full current school year and beyond.
9. Do you use Common Core?
We are aware of Common Core standards and we can show how our curriculum meets and exceeds the standards enumerated by Common Core. At our school, we are not strictly limited to only providing a age/grade-based curriculum; when a child is interested in a subject that is not within their grade level, we encourage and facilitate further work and research so they may delve deeper into the subject.
10. Do you do standardized testing?
Beginning in Elementary, standardized tests are also used as an assessment measure to determine each child’s weaknesses and strengths. Children will participate in standardized testing at least once a year. This provides the teacher with valuable information about the strengths and weaknesses of each child, which then provides a basis for tailoring the curriculum to each child’s specific needs.
11. If children get to pick what they want to learn, how do they ever learn all they need to know? When they get older, do they choose to learn about long division? Or writing an essay?
In Montessori, children are given a level of freedom corresponding with their individual development of responsibility. Children may choose what lessons to work on, but this does not mean your Elementary-aged child will be coloring or doodling all day. Each learning environment is carefully prepared with enticing ‘lessons’ that are meant to be completed. Children may spend the whole morning working constructively with a challenging math lesson, or may vacillate among lessons before settling in to work with a lesson. Elementary-aged children are presented a wide variety of lessons each week and guided to complete a certain amount of math/language/geography/etc. lessons to meet educational goals. The teacher acts as a guide to ensure that the child works on lessons they need further practice with in order to master–and each child’s sequence of lessons may not be identical to every other child’s.
12. Will my child have homework?
We heartily encourage all of our families to read to, with, and alongside their children at home every night. Aside from recommending reading every night, we do not assign much in the way of homework. Most of our learning is done within our prepared environments, especially for our Infant, Toddler, and Primary communities. If a child in our Elementary program is having a hard time mastering a task, or is unusually distracted during the work cycle, that task or related ones may be sent home for further practicing. Most of the time, this is not the case and the teacher will guide the child to finish the task at school. In other words, homework is not regularly assigned to serve as busy work to be done at home, but it may occasionally be assigned as work that wasn’t completed at school in the timely manner.
13. Does my child get a grade? How do we know that she is learning?
In today’s world with competition, social media, sports, scholarships, it’s no wonder many of our children are encountering anxiety and depression at such young ages. Children often learn to seek external validation, and a lot of this can be attributed to seeking good grades or marks. In early Montessori communities, we strive to cultivate a joy for learning itself instead of for the purpose of doing well on a test.
Montessori helps instill intrinsic motivation by teaching children to learn to be proud of themselves (instead of seeking others’ praise/external validation) starting from an early age. Internal validation helps with self-confidence, self-esteem, and develops the trait of adaptability that enables us to thrive in the unpredictable outside world. In Montessori, assessments are regularly done to ensure that a child is progressing by mastering the concepts and lessons that have been presented. Most Montessori lessons contain self-evident controls of error; thus, mistakes are often self-corrected by the child whom notices something ‘off’ within their own work. As the child grows and joins our Elementary [and older] community, we continue to encourage the development of internal validation. In these communities, we also emphasize learning from mistakes and encourage self-correction over simply marking their assignments. Children may be granted several opportunities to add to or correct lessons that need further refinement. This approach helps foster a love for learning and intrinsic motivation.
14. Will my child get into a good college after graduating?
We certainly hope so! Counterpane Montessori, a sister Montessori school that has programs for children in Primary through High School, has had great success in this. Every student who has graduated from their high school program since its inception has been accepted to college, including some quite prestigious ones.
15. When are you moving to the new campus?
We hope to have the campus completed by the end of 2018. We will be moving to that campus shortly after.
16. How do you know when a child is ready to move up to next room?
Each teacher has evaluation forms to assess each child’s progress and to aid in ascertaining if the child is ready to move up. Our move-up process requires observations from both the current and future teachers to ensure each child will have the most ease and success in transitioning to a new community. Among our younger communities, there are a few developmental milestones that also help indicate if the child is ready (for example, a child in our Infant community who still needs a morning nap likely is not ready to move to Toddler, where children solely nap in the afternoon). This process is tailored for each child, and as such, move-ups occur throughout the school year as children demonstrate readiness.
17. Are there by extracurricular activities available?
We will definitely offer extracurricular activities at our new campus. These may include (but are not limited to): piano, judo, yoga, robotics, foreign language, skill sets (woodworking etc), and sports. If you have a suggestion for an extracurricular you would like to see, or one you would like to lead, please contact us!
18. What are your school’s safety procedures?
Currently, we have a keypad system where each parent and employee has a unique code to enter the building. The door is locked unless the code is entered or a button is pressed from the inside (if there is a fire, the door automatically becomes unlocked). If someone threatening enters, authorities are immediately notified via 911 and/or SecurePoint via text–children are guided to their classroom’s closet (at our new campus, concreted closets will also serves as storm shelters). We also follow the City of Carrollton Police Facebook page and regularly inform our staff of any local individuals/crimes they should be aware of.
19. Is there bullying in the class?
Bullying can happen in any environment; however, the Montessori concept of mixed age groups tends to cultivate an environment where bullying is not common. If an incident of bullying does occur, both the conflict resolution skills and the grace and courtesy lessons that are taught in Montessori (beginning in the Infant community) often help the children come to an agreement/solution to a problem. Teachers also may step in and offer an immediate lesson on how we treat others, or what we can say in the specific situation; Teachers may also lead a group lesson later on modeling appropriate, kind behavior and initiate a discussion on why we treat others with respect. In other words, if any bullying occurs in a Montessori environment, it tends to be short-lived.
20. Do the children wear uniforms?
We currently do not have a uniform requirement. This may change in the future for some of our programs, but children are currently encouraged to attend school in clothing they can independently dress themselves in.