Frequently Asked Questions

Parents are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the Montessori way of learning.
Please become comfortable with the correct terminology.
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What is a Montessori School?

It’s the most obvious question and the answer is actually very simple. The Montessori philosophy is based on children’s natural developmental needs.

Then it gets more complicated. Children need space and freedom to learn and grow. Montessori schools provide that space and freedom, but in a well-constructed environment that exposes children to different stimuli and materials that encourage them to develop academically, physically, psychologically and emotionally.

Learning is based on the child’s self-motivation to explore and grow, but it’s guided, subtly, by teachers.

There are four important elements to Montessori education:
1. Most importantly, children are recognised as individuals. They learn differently to adults and they develop differently from all the children around them. This means that a generic approach just doesn’t work.
2. Children’s brains are like sponges, absorbing everything in their environment and learning as they go. Their educational settings should be structured to maximise this process.
3. Montessori classes are designed to facilitate the transition from unconscious to conscious learning, which is a very important step in early childhood development.
4. Children love to work with purpose, as you’ll know if you’ve ever watched a child absorbed in a practical activity. The pleasure (and the learning) is all in the doing, which is why the Montessori Method provides activities and materials that will encourage children to develop cognitively, physically and emotionally.

What is the difference between Montessori and traditional education?

Montessori emphasizes learning through all five senses, not just through listening, watching, or reading. Children in Montessori classes learn at their own, individual pace and according to their own choice of activities from hundreds of possibilities. Learning is an exciting process of discovery, leading to concentration, motivation, self-discipline, and a love of learning.

What is Vertical grouping?

Children are grouped in mixed ages and abilities in three to six year spans: 0-3 and 3-6, forming communities in which the older children spontaneously share their knowledge with the younger ones. Montessori represents an entirely different approach to education.
There is constant interaction, problem solving, child to child teaching, and socialization. Children are challenged according to their ability and never bored. The Younger children learn from the older children and the older children gain confidence and increase their self-esteem when helping a younger classmate.

Are Montessori children successful later in life?

Research studies show that Montessori children are well prepared for later life academically, socially, as well as emotionally. Montessori educated children have self-discipline, self-confidence and a great deal of respect and enthusiasm for learning. They are naturally flexible and adaptable and shouldn’t have much trouble slotting into a traditional classroom. In all likelihood this is because they have developed a high degree of self- discipline and independence in the Montessori environment, and because of the adaptability of young children in general.
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 situation. Most children appear to adjust readily to new classroom situations.

What exactly is the teacher’s role?

The teacher is called the Directress in Montessori classroom and she works with children individually, introducing materials and giving guidance where needed. Careful observation by the Directress , of each child is essential in order to determine the child’s needs, and to notice when they are struggling with an activity,  to guide them in the right direction, as well as to help the Directress gain the knowledge needed in preparing the environment to aid each child’s growth.
Montessori teachers (or the Directress) are, essentially guides. They don’t steer children in a particular direction or force them to work according to an agenda. They show the children what materials are available and how to use them and they give help whenever they are asked.
The method of teaching is indirect, in that it neither imposes upon the child as in direct teaching, nor abandons the child as in a non-directive permissive approach. Rather, the teacher is constantly alert to the direction in which the child has indicated he or she wishes to go, and actively works to help the child achieve his or her goals.

What sort of freedom are children allowed?

Children learn best in a free environment but free does not mean permissive. Children can roam about the class and play or work with whatever materials grab their attention. Talking to the teacher and other children is allowed however the children are not encouraged to interfere in other children’s work or distract them from their chosen activities. They can’t indulge in unruly behaviour and they can’t destroy equipment.

Can I do Montessori at home with my child?

Yes, you can use Montessori principles of child development at home. Look at your home through your child’s eyes. Children need a sense of belonging, and they get it by participating fully in the routines of everyday life. “Help me do it by myself” is the life theme of the pre-schooler. Can you find ways for your child to participate in meal preparation, cleaning, gardening, caring for clothes, shoes, and toys, working with paint, clay, cardboard, glue and glitter? Ensure that the surface is easily washable and encourage your child to clean up after himself – Remember, it’s all about discipline and responsibility.

Providing opportunities for independence is the surest way to build your child’s self-esteem.
Try to avoid brain-numbing toys like video games and encourage your child to do fun, practical activities or read, rather than sit in front of the TV for hours at a time.

You will have to invest time in your children if you want to help them reach their full potential!