Frequently Asked Questions

In Montessori schools the child is seen as a dynamic learner, full of creative potential and in need of the maximum possible freedom to be allowed to develop as a happy, confident individual.

Montessori schools therefore place emphasis on the importance of process. In more traditional schools children are seen to be in need of more active instruction and control from adults – there is less trust in the child’s own inner abilities and more emphasis on ensuring very defined results. So Montessori schools are learner-centred, whereas traditional schools tend to be more teacher-centred.

We follow the Montessori curriculum, which is a three year cycle to enable every child to work at his own pace. We constantly monitor what is expected of a child in an ordinary school at a similar level to make sure the children’s work is on standard.

We tend to introduce children to some concepts far earlier than in ordinary schools because of the specialised equipment we use. The aim is to present every concept in as concrete a way possible and gradually lead the child to full abstraction.

It must be remembered that children are not fully able to abstract before their final year in primary school.

Tests are written in our Montessori Primary school, but the emphasis is not placed on a mark but rather, “Do I know enough to move on or do I still need to work at this a bit more?” For this reason self-test cards are often used by the children on their own and they correct their own work. Work corrected by the teacher is discussed with the individual child or he may be directed to where he can find the correct answer. A child does not move on to new work until the teacher is satisfied that they have consolidated their knowledge.

The advantage of the Montessori environment is that we always cater for the abilities of the individual child and are so able to carry on with reading, math and perceptual activities that will keep them growing academically as well as emotionally.

Children of this age are naturally competitive, but in the Montessori environment we try to prepare the children for life and this means that each child is encouraged to make the effort to the best of their abilities. Emphasising competition only benefits the child that wins and demoralises any child that doesn’t. We want to boost every child in our care.

Montessori schools believe that discipline is something that should come from inside rather than something that is always imposed by others. They do not rely on reward and punishments. By being allowed to be free in the environment, and learning to love and care for other people, the child develops confidence and control over his own behaviour.
Montessori never tolerated ill-disciplined children and realised that it was the role of the educator and the parent to discipline the child until he had the ability to discipline himself. In the Primary school we have a disciplinary procedure which is a guideline for teachers who need to address individual problems. Montessori teachers only step in when a child’s behaviour is upsetting or disruptive to others. And then the child will be handled with deep respect and sensitivity. The belief is that the children are by nature loving and caring, and the emphasis is on helping them develop the vital social and emotional skills needed for participating in true community.
Where a problem occurs within a group of children then it is discussed in the group and problem-solving techniques are applied. The children decide on the action to be taken. From time to time we may ask parents to sit in as observers at these meetings.

Our philosophy is based on strong moral values. We are not sectarian and are tolerant of the religious beliefs of families in our school.

We expect you to respect our role as educators, that we are knowledgeable and have your children’s best interests at heart. We expect you to support your child by showing an interest in what he is doing at school. We expect you to read with your child every day and make sure that homework is being done. You are not expected to teach your child or do his homework for him. If he is having difficulty we expect you to communicate this to the teacher immediately by writing a note in his homework book. We expect you to respect the hard work the teacher is putting into the development of your child and not to undermine her by cross-examining your child, or showing you have doubts, or making negative comments about her in front of your child.
If you have any doubts address the issues straight away with the teacher concerned or with management so that problems may be sorted out as soon as possible. Remember, your child’s interests are our whole reason for being. Never think that your problems are too small to mention, we welcome your input and are constantly trying to improve our service to you. Making negative comments about your child’s teacher in front of him causes conflict within your child and damages his trust relationship with his teacher. Please keep your discussions with teachers outside of school hours so that time may not be taken away from the child’s school day.

Montessori children tend to be very socially comfortable. Because they have been encouraged to problem-solve and think independently they also happy, confident and resourceful. Most children, without learning or emotional problems, leave the Montessori environment with a very strong sense of self-confidence in their abilities. Consequently, although there is always a period of adjustment to change, they usually cope well in any environment they move to.
In fact most schools are often delighted to hear that your child has been in a Montessori school.

Because we have small classes and get to know the children very well within a short space of time we often pick up learning problems early. We are not a remedial school but have become very experienced in recognising problems that can be remediated fairly easily with the intervention of specialists. We believe in early intervention if any problem, whether psychological, social, physical or educational is identified and so insist parents respond quickly if we recommend an assessment. Early intervention minimises the emotional problems or compensating behaviour that children develop to cope when they are in difficulty. Experience has taught us that the Montessori environment is not suitable for children with severe ADD or ADHD problems, so prefer to refer them elsewhere. According to therapists who do therapy at our school the proportion of children in therapy is slightly less in our school than the average they encounter in GDE schools.

Maria Montessori saw that there was a difference between imagination (based on reality) and fantasy (based on non-real events). When she watched children play she realised that they really wanted to be able to do real things in a real world, rather than just pretend. So Montessori schools really value imaginative play but will always try to help children work with real objects and situations.

Montessori believe that true creativity stems from individual freedom of expression. What you won’t (or shouldn’t) find in a Montessori school is 20 pieces of art to take home that all look the same! Your child will encouraged to express him or herself through singing, dancing, acting, talking, drawing, painting, sticking, gluing, cutting, arranging and writing. What we know is that, unlike adults, children aren’t really interested in the end result … they are much more interested in the fun and fascination of the creative process.

Montessori teachers tend to be people who really love being with children and who feel strongly about the importance of holistic approaches to learning. The philosophy often attracts more mature students, from very diverse backgrounds, who are disillusioned with conventional educational systems.

The training is comprehensive and includes: in-depth investigation of the Montessori philosophy and materials, exercises of practical life, education of the senses, literacy skills, mathematics, cultural subjects, art and craft, music and movement, drama, child development, observation and assessment, contemporary issues, childcare and health, safety, nutrition and special needs.

Research shows us that, far from being old-fashioned and obsolete, Montessori’s ideas are now being recognised by educationalists, cognitive psychologist and neuroscientists worldwide. Her emphasis on holistic learning with the importance of structure, intrinsic motivation, sociality and emotional intelligence were all ideas ahead of their time. She felt that it was education that lay at the root of social dis-function and that it was only by celebrating children as the hope of mankind, that we would ever be able to change the nature of society. She fought for a peaceful world that celebrated the fundamental unity underlying diversity and her words remain as applicable today as they were then.

Montessori classes are separated into three year cycles so that the child is placed with others in a classroom of peers that are in the same developmental stage as they are.

The children benefit from this arrangement in many ways:
Younger children learn from older children through observation.
Older children can present work to younger children – this benefits the younger child and the older child’s sense of self esteem and competence is enhanced.
The daily interaction between the older and younger children gives them the advantage of observing conflict resolution and other social skills at their level of understanding and stage of development. Older children learn tolerance and patience with the younger children and begin to see themselves as role models. The younger children in turn look up to older children and turn to them for guidance and help.
Because we encourage children to work at their own pace, they are not pressured to achieve what others in their age group are achieving. This not only benefits the child who needs more time to consolidate information and skills, but gives the child who is ready to move onto more advanced work the opportunity to do so.
A sense of community is enhanced, where everyone plays a role in the smooth running of the class.
The behaviours that frustrate us as parents (like children refusing to put things away), often don’t present themselves in the classroom where the peer group quickly step in and correct the issue. This is done in such a way that the child doesn’t feel like she/he is being reprimanded, and easily complies. 
Parents and caregivers acknowledge that every place in the school can be reviewed at the beginning of each year. Compliance with the Terms of Enrolment is also reviewed.

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