FAQ About Montessori

1. How do students learn in a Montessori classroom?

Montessori teaches students to think, not simply to memorize, and forget. Rather than present students with all the “right answers”, Montessori teachers ask all the “right questions”, and challenge students to find new solutions or discover the answers on their own. A Montessori education prepares children to succeed in the real world of ideas, enterprise and challenging perspectives.

Why? Because although learning the right answers may get children through school, learning how to learn will get them through life!

2. What distinguishes a Montessori education from traditional methods?

Montessori emphasizes learning through all five senses, not just through listening, watching or reading. Students in Montessori classes learn at their own pace and according to their own choice of activities from hundreds of possibilities. Learning is an exciting process of discovery, leading to concentration, self-discipline and a love of learning. Montessori classes place children in three year age groups (3-6, 6-9, 9-12, 12-15), forming communities in which the older students spontaneously share their knowledge with the younger ones.

3. Why do Montessori students become confident self-motivated learners?

If a child is emotionally handicapped by self-doubt, if he is afraid of looking foolish, afraid of failure, then the grade or approval of parents and teachers becomes an end in itself rather than what is really important, the joy of exploring ideas and figuring things out. Children should love learning, not the petty and artificial rewards that most schools use to motivate students.

4. Isn’t Montessori too structured?

Although the teacher is careful to make clear the specific purpose of each material and to present activities in a clear step-by-step order, the child is free to choose from a vast array of activities and to discover new possibilities.

5. Are Montessori children successful later in life?

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

6. Who accredits or oversees Montessori schools?

There are several Montessori organizations to which schools can belong. The three major ones operating in Canada are the Canadian Council of Montessori Administrators (CCMA), The American Montessori Society (AMS) and the American Montessori Internationale (AMI). Parents considering placing a child in a Montessori school should ask about the school’s affiliation(s)

7. What is the best way to choose a Montessori school for my child?

Ask if the school is a member of CCMA, AMS or AMI. Ask what kind of training the teachers have. Visit the school, observe the classroom in action, and ask later the teacher or principal to explain the theory behind the activities you saw. Most of all, talk to your child’s prospective teacher about his or her philosophy of child development and education to see if it’s compatible with your own.

8. What is the best age to start my child in a Montessori program?

Dr. Maria Montessori observed that a child of early preschool age is sensitive to order, coordination, concentration and independence. Considering these developmental sensitivities, most children will begin a Montessori program between 2 ½ years and 3 years.