Frequently Asked Questions
What is the advantage of multi-aged classes? The advantage of the multi aged class is that it is more sensitive to the needs and development rate of each child. A child may benefit from work with older children in one subject, younger children in another, and still have social interaction with children their own age. The multi-aged class structure makes it possible for each child to choose their own work, progress at their own rate of speed, work independently or seek companionship when desired.
Why is the classroom so structured? Young children have a strong need for order so they can trust their environment, feel secure within it, and react to it in a positive way. It aids their quest for independence as they are assured of completing a chosen cycle of activity. Independence and adaptation are vital work for young children.
What is the importance of completing a 2 to 3 year program? Within each cycle, a body of information and skills are presented. If the child does not complete a full cycle, then the child may not achieve the ‘total possibility’ offered by the class. At the end of a proper cycle, the child would have completed a Montessori curriculum.
Are Montessori schools religious? Montessori schools are not religious, nor do they tend towards any particular religion. They do however; incorporate many of the basic spiritual concepts and principles like love and kindness, joy and confidence in the fundamental goodness of life. Dr Montessori recognized that just as children of three and four aren’t too young to be introduced to maths or science, they aren’t too young to be exposed to life’s biggest issues. On the contrary, Dr Montessori saw these issues as an intricate part of the responsible freedom the child needs to find and learn about. (Daniela Donaldson, 2001. Montessori in a nut shell).
Are Montessori schools elitist? This misconception probably came about because the majority of Montessori schools are non-government schools. Yet in this, Montessori schools are no different to any other school. All children have the right to be educated to their potential.
How do children handle transition to mainstream primary school? The transition from one school to another, however different or similar is always unsettling for the child, for some more so than others. However, Montessori students are generally very well equipped to cope with change as they have learned the art of self-motivation and self-discipline. Some parents have concerns as to how their children will cope with the change to a traditional (mainstream) school. It should be remembered that the foundation of our education system is to develop self-directed learning in a supportive environment. Most Montessori students are great problem solvers, have sound social skills nurtured by their experiences of cross age tutoring in a multi aged class. The students experience conflict resolution in the group meeting and are guided to discuss different strategies.
What is the teaching concept behind the Montessori materials? The sensorial teaching materials are designed to lead the child from the simple to the complex, from concrete perception to abstract conception. The materials are self corrective, allowing the child to find the answer themselves. This programmed learning approach ensures that the child will experience success. The cycle of ‘competence breeding confidence’ motivates the child’s desire to learn and work in later life.
What is meant by ‘Extended Day’? The Extended Day (all day Montessori) gives older and more mature children a more challenging environment. This will be a smaller group. The Montessori Directress will assess each child's readiness for extended day based on such things as their ability to concentrate for longer periods of time. Is socialization of the child given sufficient importance in the Montessori classroom? Dr Montessori believed that emphasis on socializing the child before the child has a clear concept of themselves as a person is wasteful. Consequently, Montessori learning tasks are designed to help the child reveal themselves and to develop their own potential. As distinction of self from others sharpens, they take advantage of the opportunities that are present to share, co-operate and mutually respect the rights of others. Often in a Montessori classroom, children work or talk in groups and this occurs spontaneously. Montessori teachers can then foster this natural forming of friendships by providing other opportunities for children to work together.
What is the teacher’s role in a Montessori classroom? In Montessori classrooms, the teacher is termed a ‘directress’. She assumes the role of a guide, observer and maintainer of the environment. She carefully prepares the environment by including stimulating objects and by removing obstacles. She demonstrates the apparatus and encourages the child to experience it themselves. She observes the child to help them overcome difficulties and redirects their interest when necessary.
What is the Montessori concept of freedom? Freedom is a goal, not a starting point. A free child is one who has developed their potential and prefers to work out problems for themselves but is capable of asking for and receiving information and direction when necessary.
What is the Montessori concept of discipline? The Montessori discipline is an ‘inner-discipline’-control that the child develops over their own behaviour through their interest in the Montessori materials. Dr Montessori noted that many so-called undisciplined children were really frustrated by lack of stimulation, and would become happier and more self-controlled after a period of time in her prepared environment.
How are Montessori teachers trained? Training courses for Montessori teachers are conducted throughout the world. Attendance combines theory, familiarization with the apparatus, and observation and practical experience in the classroom. At Bacchus Marsh Montessori Preschool our staff are well qualified.
Is pre-school education a good investment? Modern educators are beginning to realise that poor motivation and bad work habits are rooted in the child’s early educational experience and environment. If the young child’s natural desire to learn is encouraged and satisfaction is experienced, a pattern of success will develop.
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How large are Montessori classes? How large are Montessori classes? At Bacchus Montessori we usually take up to 25 children in our Kindergarten class and up to 22 in our Pre-Kindergarten class. Montessori schools are subject to state laws regulating the ratio of students to teachers.
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