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Frequently Asked Questions
about Montessori Education

How is a Montessori classroom different from other preschools?

In most preschools, the teacher is responsible for sharing information.  In a Montessori classroom, children learn spontaneously through interacting with the materials in the environment and with each other.  The development of independence remains a primary focus through all age levels.


What is the Montessori method of education?

The Montessori method of education is a scientifically proven approach to education that has remained popular worldwide for over one hundred years. The Montessori environment is designed to stimulate the child’s interest and to encourage spontaneous learning and discovery with little or no adult intervention.


Who started the Montessori method?

Dr. Maria Montessori, one of the first female doctors in Italy, developed the Montessori method over one hundred years ago.  Based on countless hours of scientific observation of children in Rome and around the globe, Dr. Montessori developed unique materials and a child-centered environment.  She forever revolutionized education by demonstrating the importance respecting the child, allowing for freedom of expression, and allowing for independence and spontaneous discovery.


Are all Montessori schools alike?

Unfortunately, Dr. Montessori never copyrighted her method of education, so any school can call itself a Montessori school. Therefore, Montessori schools can vary greatly in their knowledge of and adherence to Montessori principles. Montessori founded the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) in 1929 in order to preserve and promote her method. The rigorous training offered by AMI is accepted as the international standard of quality, authentic Montessori education. Highlands Montessori adheres to AMI principles, and all teachers have received AMI training.

What is the Montessori classroom?

Dr. Montessori called her first Montessori classroom the Casa dei Bambini, or "Children's House."  The Montessori classroom is designed to be just that-a space just for children.  Furniture and materials are child-sized, safe, and easily accessible, allowing for independence and exploration.  The prepared environment entices the child through carefully selected materials, allowing him to experience the world on a smaller, more manageable level.  Montessori materials provide experiences with practical life activities, refining and developing the senses, language, mathematics, self-expression and cultural activities.


What is the role of the Montessori teacher?

The Montessori teacher is often referred to as a directress or guide.  Instead of providing direct instruction, she guides the child in his own learning and allows for the joy of self-discovery.  The Montessori guide carefully prepares the classroom environment to facilitate natural discovery and to meet the needs and interests of each individual child.  She works with each child individually, guiding the child along his own unique natural path of development.


Why is early learning so important?

Dr. Montessori identified various periods of “sensitivity,” often called "critical periods" or "windows of opportunity" by developmental psychologists. During these sensitive periods, a child has a special interest in and is easily able to learn certain concepts, such as oral language. In recent years, researchers have confirmed Montessori's theories and have learned that the brain develops most of its neurons and is most receptive to learning between birth and age three. Early education plays a critical role in providing a strong foundation for all that is to come.


With all the freedom, isn’t there confusion?

While children in a Montessori classroom are given freedom, this freedom comes within a set of clearly defined limits.  Children are allowed to work freely as long as they are not disturbing others.  Dr. Montessori recognized that children who are given the freedom to follow their own interests are typically very happy and capable of deep concentration on their chosen activity.


How do Montessori children adjust to traditional public schools?

Children who have attended a Montessori preschool are generally equipped with critical school-readiness skills such as independence, concentration, a strong sense of order, the ability to interact well with others, and a love of learning.  Montessori children are typically very flexible and adjust easily to any school setting.


What about socialization and group work?

Socialization is an important part of the Montessori method, and children are given opportunities to practice grace and courtesy daily.  Children are allowed and encouraged to interact with each other in the classroom, helping each other with an activity or giving a lesson to a younger child.  Additionally, each day includes a group time, communal lunchtime, and outdoor play.


What is the advantage of having a mixed age group in the classroom?

Dr. Montessori recognized that children possess a wide range of skills, abilities, interests, and experiences regardless of chronological age. The Montessori classroom is equipped with a wide range of materials to meet the unique needs of each individual child. Children who require additional support are not left behind, while children who are advanced in a particular area are not held back. Additionally, younger children learn from the older children and older children gain leadership skills while reinforcing their own learning by helping the younger children.


Does Montessori employ current research and theory in educational methods?

Although the Montessori method was developed over a century ago, research has continuously demonstrated that the method has remained effective over time. Montessori teachers undergo continuous professional development, learning about new and current educational theory and incorporating it into the Montessori classroom.


How is discipline handled in a Montessori classroom?

Self-discipline remains the primary focus of a Montessori classroom.  An orderly, prepared environment allows for exploration and choice within clearly defined boundaries.  Children build problem-solving skills, self-control, independence and responsibility.  Discipline is recognized as a process that requires constant support and guidance.  Children learn to accept the natural and logical consequences of their behavior while the teacher promotes a classroom atmosphere of harmony, cooperation, and self-control.


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