FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

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Is Montessori good for children with learning disabilities? What about gifted children?

Montessori is designed to help all children reach their fullest potential at their own individual pace. A classroom of children with varying abilities is a community in which everyone learns from one another and everyone contributes. Moreover, multi-age groupings allow each child to find his or her own pace without feeling “ahead” or “behind” in relation to peers.

Where did Montessori come from?

Montessori (pronounced MON-tuh-SORE-ee) education was founded in 1907 by Dr. Maria Montessori, the first female physician in Italy. She based her educational methods on scientific observation of children’s learning processes. Guided by her discovery that children are born with the ability to teach themselves, Dr. Montessori designed a “prepared environment” in which children could freely choose from a number of developmentally appropriate activities. Now, a century after Dr. Montessori’s first Casa dei Bambini (“Children’s House”) in Rome, Montessori education is offered worldwide, spanning ages from birth to adolescence.

What is the difference between Montessori and traditional education?

Montessori represents an entirely different approach to education where emphasis is placed on all five senses, not just 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 lifelong love of learning. Montessori classes place children in three-year age groups (3-6, 6-9, 9-12, etc.), forming communities in which the older children spontaneously share their knowledge with the younger children.

Can I use Montessori principles at home with my child?

Yes. Look at your home through your child’s eyes. Children need a sense of belonging and they acquire that sense by participating fully in the routines of everyday life. “Help me do it by myself” is the life theme of the preschooler. Find ways for your child to participate in meal preparation, cleaning, gardening, and caring for clothes, shoes and toys. Providing opportunities for independence is the surest way to build your child’s self-esteem. Many parents use the Montessori philosophy with their children by following the children’s interest and not interrupting concentration. In school, only a trained Montessori teacher can properly implement Montessori education using the specialized learning equipment of the Montessori “prepared environment.” In a Montessori school, social development comes from being in a positive and unique environment with other children which is an integral part of Montessori education.

What age levels are included in Montessori education?

Montessori is designed to help all children reach their fullest potential at their own individual pace. A classroom of children with varying abilities is a community in which everyone learns from one another and everyone contributes. Moreover, multi-age groupings allow each child to find his or her own pace without feeling “ahead” or “behind” in relation to peers.

Are Montessori children successful later in life?

Research studies show that Montessori children are well prepared academically, socially and emotionally for later in life. 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.

What's the best way to better understand Montessori?

Observe a Montessori classroom at MSPI. Contact us to schedule a time or for more details.

Are there any opportunities for pretend play?

When Dr. Montessori opened the first Children’s House it was full of pretend play things. The children never played with them while they had opportunities to do “real-life” activities (i.e. cooking instead of pretending to cook) This approach still holds true today.

Do these specially-designed Montessori materials allow children to be creative?

The materials are designed to teach specific skills and must first be mastered. For example, a child is taught first how to handle a violin, then how to play it. It is not considered “creative” to use a violin as a hammer, or a bridge while playing with blocks. One must first learn how to use the violin properly and can then express their creativity in the music they make. This same philosophy applies to materials in a Montessori classroom.

Montessori seems like a very solitary method of education - is this so?

There is as much interaction as a child desires, but the tasks are so satisfying that, for those few hours a day, children want to master the challenges offered by them. Then they become happier and kinder – true socialization takes place. Also, since concentration is protected above all, as all “work” is respected, children learn early not to interrupt someone who is concentrating.

How do I find Montessori school in my area?

There are thousands of Montessori schools throughout the world. Visit American Montessori Society to find one in your area: Be sure to observe in the classrooms of the Montessori schools you are considering.

Who accredits or oversees Montessori schools?

Unfortunately, there is no way to limit the use of the name “Montessori.” Parents must carefully research and observe a classroom in operation in order to identify a truly authentic Montessori school.

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