FAQs

Where did Montessori come from?

Montessori education was founded in 1907 by Dr Maria Montessori – the first woman in Italy to become a physician. She based her educational methods on scientific observation of children’s learning processes. Guided by her discovery that children teach themselves, Dr Montessori designed a ‘prepared environment’ in which children could freely choose from a number of developmentally appropriate activities. Now, nearly a century after Maria Montessori’s first ‘casa dei bambini’ (children’s house) in Rome, Montessori education is found all over the world, spanning ages from birth to adolescence.

At what age do children start preschool?

Children begin at a Montessori preschool at approximately three years of age.

Why do preschool children attend every day?

Children attend every day in order to fully participate in all facets of a wide and rounded school life. They need to do this to be community members rather than ‘visitors’ and to achieve continuity in their work and to have the greatest opportunity to experience the fully range of experiences that a Montessori class offers.

While many parents are reluctant at first to take on this commitment the benefits soon become evident once the routine is established.

Holiday breaks are taken throughout the year and follow the private school term calendars.

Why the three hour work cycle?

In traditional Montessori programs, the school day is structured to provide learners with at least one daily-uninterrupted work period appropriate to the age level of the children in each class. At the early childhood level, this has traditionally been understood as two-an-a-half or three hour uninterrupted work cycle in the morning. The purpose of long, uninterrupted blocks of work time is to allow students to select work freely, eventually becoming absorbed in work that has a particular fascination for them at this point in their development.

Dr Montessori discovered that a child as young as three, who has spent a few months in the Montessori classroom, is able to choose productive and challenging work, focus on the task at hand, finish a cycle of work, rest without interrupting those who are working, and repeat this sequence. She noted that for this to happen, a minimum of three hours of uninterrupted classroom time are essential. Of her experiences observing children during an uninterrupted work period, she noted: “Each time a polarization of attention took place, the child began to be completely transformed, to become calmer, more intelligent, and more expansive.” This is when the true cognitive and personal development of the child starts to take place.

Why is there a three-year age range in each classroom?

The mixed age group allows the children to learn from each other, and because of each other. The younger children are inspired to further activities through observing the older ones, and the older children reinforce their own knowledge by sharing it with the younger ones. Children become functioning members of their own community. They are treated with respect and dignity and learn to treat others in the same way.

The older children act as role models for younger children; they instruct younger children, reviewing concepts themselves in the process. Patience and confidence are reinforced and practised.

Younger children learn to seek the help and assistance of those more experienced than themselves. They begin to learn to seek the help to help themselves.

What is the importance of competing the three-year cycle?

Within each three-year cycle, a body of information and skills is presented. Failure to complete the three-year cycle results in the child not achieving the ‘total possibility’ offered by the class. Many loose ends, partially developed skills and incoherent knowledge are obvious.

Montessori recognised sensitive periods in the development of children’s lives when they show strong interest in certain aspects of their environment. She designed her programme to introduce aspects of learning at a time when the children are most receptive. The third year is the culmination of the process.

The third “extension” year is equivalent to the Kindergarten year in primary schools and has the great advantage of extremely low child-teacher ratios, with a maximum of ten children in the Kindergarten group. The curriculum is equivalent to that covered in primary schools and is accredited by the Board of Studies.

Are Montessori schools religious?

Some are but most are independent of any religious affiliation.

What is the difference between the Montessori Method of learning and a traditional classroom?

The teaching methods and curricula are based closely on the methods, insights, materials and discoveries of Dr Maria Montessori, which differ significantly from the more traditional methods and above all, stress the individuality of the child. 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. Montessori classes place children in three-year age groups (3-6, 6-9, 9-12 and so on) forming communities in which older children spontaneously share their knowledge with the younger ones. Montessori represents an entirely different approach to education.

Montessori Versus Traditional

Montessori:

  • The teacher is unobtrusive and facilitates the class
  • The environment and the method encourage self-discipline
  • Montessori concentrates on individual instruction
  • Montessori has mixed age grouping for peer learning and interaction
  • The child discovers the concept of learning from self-teaching and self-correcting material
  • The children set their own learning pace
  • The children reinforce their learning by repetition and growing self confidence
  • The children choose their own work and the teacher monitors their progress

Traditional:

  • The teacher is the centre and controls the class
  • The teacher establishes discipline
  • The traditional method works on group instruction
  • Traditional is generally the same age group which may limit development
  • The child is shown the concept of learning by the teacher with little self-discovery
  • The group sets the pace of instruction
  • The child’s work is either criticised through correction or praised by the teacher
  • The teacher tends to assign work to the children
What is Montessori offering my child?

Many parents are often asked by friends and family ‘why do you send your child to a Montessori school’?

A Montessori classroom is a carefully prepared environment, designed to meet the developmental needs of the child, both physically and psychologically.

Your child, through their work in the prepared environment, will develop self-discipline, orderly work habits, concentration and independence. It is through your child’s own work with the classroom materials that knowledge is gained and concepts understood.

The materials are designed to attract the child and encourage activity, concentration, repetition and challenge. The materials are also self-correcting, thus giving children a chance to gauge their performance. They learn to become aware of their capabilities and develop confidence to accept them. Activities progress from simple to complex, concrete to abstract.

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

Montessori is designed to help all children of all abilities reach their fullest potential at their own unique pace. A classroom whose children have varying abilities is a community in which everyone learns from one another and everyone contributes. Moreover, multi-age grouping allows 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 for later life academically, socially, and emotionally. In addition to scoring well on standardised tests, Montessori children are ranked above average on such criteria as following directions, turning work in on time, listening attentively, using basic skills, showing responsibility, asking provocative questions, showing enthusiasm for learning, and adapting to new situations. For further information please visit: http://montessori.org.au/

Karuna Montessori Pre-School supports children to become well-rounded individuals ready to take on life’s challenges with verve and responsibility by providing a school that nurtures the growth and development of the child through hands-on-learning in a beautifully crafted environment of respect, peace and joy.

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