• In Montessori schools the child is seen as a dynamic leaner, 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 leaner – centred, whereas traditional schools tend to be more teacher – centred.
  • Sometimes parents worry that by having younger children in the same class as older ones, one group or the other will be shortchanged. They fear that the younger children will absorb the teachers’ time and attention, or that the importance of covering the kindergarten curriculum for the five-year-olds will prevent them from giving the three and four-year-olds the emotional support and stimulation that they need. Both concerns are misguided.
    At each level, Montessori programs are designed to address the developmental characteristics normal to children in that stage.
  • Montessori classes are organized to encompass a two or three year age span, which allows younger students the stimulation of older children, who in turn benefit from serving as role models. Each child learns at her own pace and will be ready for any given lesson in her own time, not on the taecher’s schedule of lessons. In a mixed age class, children can always find peers who are working at their current level.
  • Children normally stay in the same class for three years. With two-thirds of the class normally returning each year, the class-room culture tends to remain quite stable.
  • Working in one class of two or three years allows students to develop a strong sense of community with their classmates and teachers. The age range also allows especially gifted children the stimulation of intellectual peers, without requiring that they skip a grade or feel emotionally out of place.
  • Montessori programs are normally more expensive to organize and run than conventional classrooms due to the extensive teacher education needed to become certified and the very high cost of purchasing the educational materials and beautiful furniture needed to equip each Montessori classroom. Montessori is not always more expensive. Tuition costs depend on many factors, including the cost of the various elements that go into running a particular school, such as the cost of the buildings and grounds, teacher salaries, the size of the school, the program it offers and whether the school receives a subsidy payment from a sponsoring church, charity or government agency.
  • 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. So they normally settle into very quickly and easily into new schools. In fact primary school teachers are often delighted to hear that your child has been in a Montessori school!
  • Montessori classrooms should be bright, warm and inviting, filled with plants, animals, art, music and books. Interest centers will be filled with intriguing learning materials, mathematical models, maps, charts and animals that the children are raising. In an elementary class, you will also normally find computers and scientific apparatus.
  • You should not find rows of desks in a Montessori classroom. There will not be a teachers’ desk and chalk board in the front of the room. The environment will be set up to facilitate students discussion and stimulate collaborative learning.
  • Students will typically be found scattered around the classroom, working alone or with one or two others.
  • Teachers will normally be found working with one or two children at a time, advising, presenting a new lesson.
  • The furniture in the classroom will be the right size for the students.
  • The children should clearly feel comfortable and safe.
  • A Montessori program is composed of mixed-age groups of children within each classroom, traditionally covering a three year span from the early childhood level onward. The levels usually found in a Montessori school correspond to the developmental stages of childhood : infants (birth to eighteen months); toddlers (eighteen months to age three); early childhood (age three to six); lower elementary (age six to eight); upper elementary (age nine to eleven); middle school (age twelve to fourteen); and high school (age fourteen to eighteen).
  • Ideally, a Montessori class is balanced in terms of boys and girls, as well as in the number of children in each age group.
  • Students should clearly seem to feel at ease as they select and purse activities.
  • Generally, students will work individually or in small, self-selected groups. There will be very few whole group lessons.
  • The focus of the class should be on children’s learning, not on teachers’ teaching.