Frequently Asked Questions

How does the Montessori approach differ from that of the traditional preschools?

Our teachers guide classroom interactions so that each child learns the value of cooperation and gains skills to solve conflicts in a positive manner. We use our best professional judgment when implementing supervision and correction. We stress positive reinforcement and redirection. We will discuss negative or disruptive behavior that persists with the parents and develop a joint plan of action. Corporal punishment is not used.  

Isn't Montessori only for bright children?

Maria Montessori first worked with intellectually disabled children. By using her materials, these children surpassed "normal" children in many areas. This finding led Montessori to question the teaching techniques in traditional schools, and prompted her to open classrooms for "normal" children. She saw patterns of learning that transcended intelligence and other personal characteristics. As a result, she designed activities that are appropriate for a broad range of children.

What is the Montessori environment like?

The Montessori environment is equipped with a wide variety of material. Maria Montessori designed activities to develop a child's skills in a wide range of life areas. Specific units are designed to expose children to the following areas: practical life, sensorial experiences, science, mathematics and geometry, language arts, geography, music, art, movement and physical education.

Practical life encourages skill development in daily living tasks; the activities each of us perform on a regular basis to care for ourselves and our environment. This area of the classroom includes such activities as pouring, bow tying, dish washing, polishing, hammering, food preparation and many others.

Sensorial materials stimulate awareness of size relationships, colors, sounds, and tactile qualities. These activities refine and develop the child's senses and organize the information received through the senses. Manipulative materials allow the child to experiment in a concrete way.

Mathematics, geometry, language, geography and science activities provide academic stimulation. The math and language materials develop visual discrimination skills and provide a foundation for future learning by developing mathematical and phonetic concepts. The science and geography areas contain activities that increase the child's understanding of the world.

Movement, music, and art enrich the program and contribute to the child's growth. Each child spends time in a "circle" daily, learning new songs and movement games, as well as enjoying old ones. Puppets and dramatic play enrich the fantasy experience. Children express thoughts, feelings, and experiences graphically through art materials.

Why are three, four, and five year olds mixed together?

Children learn from each other. When children are grouped by age, the range of capabilities is considerably smaller than when several ages are grouped together. The young children learn academic and social skills from observing their older classmates. The older children learn patience, tolerance and leadership skills from their younger classmates. Our society is not segmented into age groups. As adults we have friends and acquaintances of many different ages. The Montessori classroom reflects our society with a mixture of ages.

Is three too young for my child to start school?

Maria Montessori found that three year olds are particularly eager to bring order to their minds and their surroundings. They readily absorb the order of the materials and the classroom. This ability to organize an activity is the foundation for problem solving. At no other age is a child as eager to have order than at three.

Will my three year old be able to handle five days of school each week?

Children need routine and predictability in their lives. When their lives lack routine and predictability, they feel out of control and insecure. Attending school each week day gives them the security of knowing what will happen next.

Initially, some three year olds are tired at the end of the school day. Lunch and a rest period help them and their families through the remainder of the day. Their bodies adjust with time and patience.

Why do the children use the materials individually? Do they learn to share?

The children need freedom to explore the materials without interruptions. Just as adults dislike distractions when involved in a task, so children prefer to complete their activities without distractions. In the Montessori environment, they develop their ability to focus their attention. Without unnecessary interruptions, their attention span increases and they develop concentration skills.

Before children spontaneously share, they must feel free to not share. In the Montessori environment, the adults protect their right to explore an activity by themselves at their own pace. Sharing evolves naturally from the classroom experience. When they desire, they share by communicating with and helping others. The sharing is natural and spontaneous because it comes from within the child, rather than being forced arbitrarily by an adult.

Do the children have enough opportunities to socialize? Does the day include ample group activities for socialization?

Group activities are included in the Montessori curriculum. The class gathers into groups at the beginning, at movement time, at lunch time and at the end of the day. During group activities, the children's interest and attention is focused on a specific task, and communication relates to the task. Group activities help develop listening skills and confidence to speak in groups, but children need something else to develop social skills.

Group activities have limitations as they do not encourage spontaneous interactions among children. The Montessori program provides individual activities that encourage communication and sharing that is spontaneous, personal and pertinent to what is happening in their lives.

How do the children learn?

Children are free to use equipment in accordance with their own rhythms and needs. Initially, the teacher demonstrates the use of the materials as a guide to ensure the child's success. The children are then encouraged to explore the activities in a constructive manner rather than using the materials in precisely the manner in which they were shown by the teacher. The only restriction being that misuse or destructive use of materials is not allowed.

Are the children free to do anything?

The children are free to explore the environment and interpersonal relationships in constructive ways. The underlying theme is respect; the adult respects the individuality of each child. The children learn that others have needs and rights, and that they must respect those needs and rights. The children are free to explore only so long as their explorations do not include actions that hurt or disturb any other child. The children learn that what is good for the group is acceptable and what is not good for the group is unacceptable.

How are the children disciplined?

The most effective means of discipline involves communication among the children. The teachers help the children whose rights have been violated to verbalize their feeling to the offender. The adults encourage the offending child to acknowledge the statement with either "I'm sorry" or "I'll try not to do that again".

When children continually disrespect others needs and rights they are removed from the group and their right to participate is terminated temporarily. During the "time out" period they sit quietly with a teacher. They can then observe other children continuing their activities in constructive ways. After a few minutes, the teacher invites the child to re-enter the activities.

As children come to understand the meaning of the respectful environment, they choose to monitor their behavior so that they do not infringe on the rights of others.

Do you close for vacations or school training days?

The only days we close are the six national holidays of New Year's Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Most other preschools are closed for: winter vacation, spring vacation, teacher workshops, teacher conferences, President's day, MLK day, teacher appreciation day, etc.

How do you determine snow day schedules?

Our school rarely closes due to snow. We work hard to stay open. In case of inclement weather, please visit King 5 for school closure information.

Are meals included in the tuition?

Three snacks are provided per day for full-day students. All children may eat their home provided breakfast; we provide milk for cereal or to drink before 8:15 a.m. Lunch is an add-on option and may be purchased or brought from home.

If I choose a traditional public or private elementary school for my child, how will he/she adjust?

Our goal is to prepare children for life's experiences. We prepare them in the academic area so that most children enter first grade reading or on the brink of reading. They have a firm understanding of the concept of numbers and the decimal system. Their abilities to organize themselves and to solve problems are excellent. Their listening skills and their abilities to respect others and participate in the community are remarkable. Their confidence and communication skills are very high. Most importantly, they love school and learning, and have positive feelings about themselves. These qualities are assets in any setting.