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Frequently Asked Questions

Why Should I Send My Child to Pre-School?

Most educators and psychologists agree that the single most important period in the development of a person’s intelligence occurs between birth and age five. A child’s mind is absorbent, and his curiosity is at a peak during these early years. When properly nourished and stimulated, the child’s mind forms patterns of learning which serve him throughout his life. A Montessori school provides one of the most effective environments in which to guide a child through these critical years.

How is a Montessori program different from other preschool programs?

In most preschools, the children are taught educational concepts in a group by a teacher. In a Montessori program, the children work at their own pace, independently learning concepts from multi-sensory materials designed for self-correction and physical exploration.

What is the Montessori Method of education?

The Montessori Method of education is basically a unique approach to learning. Rather than “teaching” the child concepts, the environment is designed in such a way to expose her to materials and experiences through which she develops intellectual, as well as physical and psychological abilities. The prepared environment takes full advantage of the self-motivation and unique ability of the young child to develop her own capabilities–all with little or no adult intervention.

What is the purpose of the Montessori Method?

A Montessori classroom is a specially designed and equipped environment where the child can unfold spontaneously and manifest the greater person within. As Dr. Montessori said, “The child is the father of the man.” (The Secret of Childhood, Maria Montessori, p. 36, 194). The purpose of the method is the development of the child’s inner self, and from this, love of life and learning expand continuously.

Who started the Montessori Method?

Dr. Maria Montessori in the early twentieth century, was Italy’s first woman physician, and this background led her to approaching education not as a philosopher or educator, but as a scientist. Through careful observation of children, she developed unique materials in a child-centered environment and revolutionized educational thought by stressing respect for the child, freedom of expression, self-education, and learning through the use of the senses and movement.

What is in a Montessori classroom?

The Montessori classroom is a child-sized world. Whatever is in the world outside can be incorporated meaningfully into the Montessori classroom. To the young child, the world is unmanageable–it is too big, too complex, and too confusing. By careful selection of materials by the teacher, an environment is set up which allows the child a place to explore life on a level she can understand. The materials and exercises are designed to stimulate independent exploration. This prepared environment entices the child to proceed at her own pace, from simple to more complex activities. Through this process, her natural curiosity is satisfied, and she begins to experience the joy of discovering the world around her. Materials and curricula center around practical life, sensorial, mathematics, language, geography, history, science, art, music, drama, and perceptual motor development.

How do children interact within the environment?

As the children develop their sense of pride in their “work,”a feeling of confidence, well-being, and joy begins to manifest itself in the child. A “new child” is born. A classroom of Montessori children is a joy to watch. There seems to be a spirit of respect, love and cooperation among the children. A feeling of community pervades the classroom.

Why do the children “work”?

The child has a deep love and need for purposeful work. He works, however, not as an adult for profit or completion of a job, but for the sake of the activity itself. It is this activity which accomplishes for him his most important goal: the development of himself–his mental, physical and psychological powers. His play is his work, and his work is his play.

What is the role of the Montessori teacher?

In a Montessori classroom there is no front of the room and no teacher’s desk as a focal point of attention because the stimulation for learning comes from the total environment. Dr. Montessori always referred to the teacher as a “directress, or director,” and her role differs considerably from that of a traditional teacher. She is, first of all, a very keen observer of the individual interests and needs of each child, and her daily work proceeds from her observations rather than from a prepared curriculum. The Directress works with each child individually, allowing her to choose from many activities within her range of ability. The teacher stands back while a child is working, and allows her the satisfaction of her own discovery.

With all of the freedom, isn’t there confusion?

The concept of freedom in the classroom is a freedom within limits. A child is free to move about the classroom at will, to talk with other children, to work with any equipment whose purpose he understands, and to ask the teacher for presentations of new material, so long as he does not disturb others. Actually, children who have the freedom to follow their interests, are generally happily and busily involved in their work.

When is the best time for a child to begin?

Nature has given children special forms of mental powers which aid in their self-construction. The first of these powers is the “absorbent mind,” the ability to absorb all aspects of one’s culture and civilization without effort or fatigue. This mental approach is indiscriminate, incorporating both good and bad, and begins at birth. Children also experience sensitive periods in their development. During these periods, they seek certain stimuli with immense intensity, to the exclusion of others. These are transitory periods in which they develop specific mental functions, such as movement, language, order, refinement of the senses and social awareness.
They occur universally at approximately the same age in all children. If a child’s need for specific stimuli is not met during the sensitive period, he loses the opportunity for optimal development. What he can learn almost effortlessly at this critical time will take effort on his part later. Dr. Montessori devised special materials to aid children in each sensitive period. Between the ages of 2 and 3, a special sense of order, concentration, coordination, and independence emerge. This time is ideal to begin a child’s training in Montessori, as she is at the perfect period to build a strong foundation for future learning.

How do Montessori children adjust to public schools?

Children who have been in a Montessori environment are generally very flexible and adjust quite easily to a public school situation. They are generally better students and spend their time in more productive ways because of their self-discipline, independence and positive attitude toward learning.

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