Preparing For Your Tour
Touring is a great way to get to know our school and an important step in making your decision. You’ll get to see not only your child’s classroom, but our whole program, from birth to Middle School, and have the opportunity to ask questions.
If you’re new to the Montessori Method of education, it can be a bit surprising. You’ll see mixed-age classrooms with two teachers in which children choose what they want to learn. Each child, or a child with a friend, selects a learning material from a shelf to work on. We call these materials “works” because each is specially designed to teach an abstract concept or to practice a specific skill. When the children are done, they put the material back on the shelf where it belongs.
The works are organized into subject areas and structured in a sequence from simple to advanced, but the children choose what they will work on and for how long. Our teachers are trained to observe, allowing the children to be independent, gently redirecting or presenting a new work when the child is ready.
Everything in the room is child-sized: from the chairs and tables to the sink and the snack table where children can cut their own apples and wash their own dishes. A small broom and dustpan is in the corner so that they can clean up any spills.
If you listen, you’ll notice a quiet buzz as the children go about their individual activities or stop to help each other out.
Frequently Asked Questions
If children choose their own work, how do you make sure they’re learning what they need to?
The Montessori classroom has been carefully prepared by the teacher. This prepared environment has been carefully thought through with the child in mind. Children begin in an Early Childhood environment at three years old and stay in the same environment until they are 5. This important 3-year cycle allows the child to work at his/her own pace, working on activities when they are ready for them. Children work with developmentally appropriate materials and work through sensitive periods. The teacher is trained to give presentations to the child on materials that they are ready for, knowing that he/she may need to do this work over and over until mastered. Once an activity is mastered the child moves on. We find children often excel more rapidly in one area, and advanced materials are available to them. Over time, they fill in other subject areas—either through personal choice, or because they want to work with friends, or by a teacher’s suggestion—and many of the materials have multi-purpose value, reinforcing a broad range of skills.
I can’t see my child doing this. Will it work?
Sometimes this is important information to have, and you should discuss any concerns you have with your tour guide. We find, though, that many parents are surprised by what their child can do in a Montessori classroom. When children are in a rich environment where they have freedom of movement and choice, surrounded by high-functioning peers, and guided by a trained teacher, we’ve seen amazing transformations.
I’m not sure my child’s ready for full-time school. Could we do 2 or 3 days?
We offer part-time options for Infants and Toddlers. In the 3-6 year-old classroom, children have the option of attending half-time, mornings or afternoons. We find that at this age, children need the consistency of 5 days to benefit from the program. Young children are not only capable of learning academics at an early age, they are also developing critical social-emotional and executive function skills like concentration, cooperation, patience, and self-reliance.