Frequently Asked Questions

How did it begin?

Dr. Maria Montessori, the creator of what is called “The Montessori Method of Education,” based this new education on her scientific observations of young children’s behavior. As the first woman to graduate from the University of Rome, Montessori became involved with education as a doctor who treated children with learning differences or were mentally challenged. In 1907, she was invited to open a child center for the children of desperately poor families in the San Lorenzo slums of Rome.

She called it a Children’s House, and based the program on her observations that young children learn best in a homelike setting, filled with developmentally appropriate materials that provide experiences contributing to the growth of self-motivated, independent learners.

Montessori’s dynamic theories included such revolutionary premises as:

  • Children are to be respected as different from adults and as individuals who are different from one another
  • Children create themselves through purposeful activity
  • The most important years for learning are from birth to age six
  • Children possess unusual sensitivity and mental powers for absorbing and learning from their environment, which includes people as well as materials

She carried her message throughout the world, including the United States as early as 1912. After an enthusiastic first response, interest in the US waned until a reintroduction of the method in the mid 1950′s, followed by the organization of the American Montessori Society in 1960.

Why Montessori?

Montessori education has achieved worldwide recognition and success. This condensed explanation will acquaint you with the many advantages that Montessori offers your child:

  • The Montessori Method has been time-tested for 75 years and has achieved success throughout the world with children
  • Montessori is a totally positive environment for children
  • In the scientifically prepared environment of the true Montessori school, the child develops the prime elements of character: freedom, concentration, independence, self-discipline, industry, sense of reality … in an atmosphere of cooperation
  • Each child is taught individually
  • The child’s natural development of language is utilized in the process of learning to read
  • Children work at their own pace and at their own level
  • Children have the unique opportunity to fulfill their potential
  • Habits and skills developed in a Montessori classroom remain for a lifetime
  • The Montessori classroom is a land of opportunity for the child as well as a truly joyful place to be
  • Though much has been said about the academic achievements of Montessori children, the true value lies in the self-discipline, self-mastery and love of learning that children achieve

How does Oakridge Montessori Children’s Learning Centre work?

Each Montessori class operates on the principle of freedom within limits. Every program has its set of ground rules which differs from age to age, but is always based on core Montessori beliefs—respect for each other and for the environment.

Children are free to work at their own pace with materials they have chosen, either alone or with groups. The teacher relies on his or her observations of the children to determine which new activities and materials he/she may introduce to an individual child or to a small or large group. The aim is to encourage active, self-directed learning and to strike a balance of individual mastery with small group collaboration within the whole group community.

The three-year-age span in each class provides a family-like grouping where learning can take place naturally. More experienced children share what they have learned while reinforcing their own learning. Because this peer group learning is intrinsic to Montessori, there is often more conversations—language experiences—in the Montessori classroom than in conventional early educational settings.

What makes a Montessori education unique?

  • The Whole Child Approach — The primary goal of a Montessori Program is to help each child reach full potential in all areas of life. Activities promote the development of social skills, emotional growth and physical coordination as well as cognitive preparation. The holistic curriculum, under the direction of a specially prepared teacher, allows the child to experience the joy of learning, ensures the development of self-esteem, and provides the experience from which children create their knowledge.
  • The Prepared Environment — In order for self-directed learning to take place, the whole learning environment — room, materials and social climate — must be supportive of the learner. The teacher provides necessary resources, including opportunities for children to function in a safe and positive climate. The teacher thus gains the children’s trust, which enables them to try new things and build self-confidence.
  • The Montessori Materials — Dr. Montessori’s observations of the kinds of things which children enjoy and go back repeatedly to led her to design a number of multi-sensory, sequential and self-correcting materials which facilitate the learning of skills and lead to the learning of abstract ideas.
  • The Teacher — Originally called a “Directress”, the Montessori Teacher functions as designer of the environment, resource person, role model, demonstrator, record keeper and meticulous observer of each child’s behavior and growth.

Why should you send your child to a Montessori preschool?

Montessori is education, not a nursery school. The best time to start your child’s education is during the early years … 2 1/2 to 3 years when most of a child’s intelligence and social characteristics are formed. 50% of the child’s mental development occurs before 4 years of age. In a Montessori School, your child will learn to think in logical patterns and to deal with reality. Children with a Montessori background become better prepared to cope with the complex challenges of tomorrow’s world.

What does Montessori offer my child?

Montessori allows children to experience the excitement of learning by their own choice. Dr. Montessori observed that it was easier for a child to learn a particular skill during the corresponding “sensitive period” than at any other time in life. These are periods of intense fascination for learning a particular skill. Montessori allows children the freedom to select individual activities which correspond to their own periods of interest and readiness and to progress at their own pace. A child who acquires the basic skills of reading and arithmetic in this natural way has the advantage of beginning education without drudgery, boredom, or discouragement.

How is creativity encouraged?

Creativity flourishes in an atmosphere of acceptance and trust. Montessorians recognize that each child, from toddler to teenager, learns and expresses himself in a very individual way.

Music, art, storytelling, movement and drama are part of every Montessori program. But there are other things particular to the Montessori environment which encourage creative development; many materials which stimulate interest and involvement; an emphasis on the sensory aspect of experience; and the opportunity for both verbal and nonverbal modes of learning.

How can a real Montessori classroom be identified?

Since Montessori is a word in the public domain, it is possible for any individual or institution to claim to be Montessori. But, an authentic Montessori classroom must be these basic characteristics at all levels:

  • Teachers educated in the Montessori philosophy and methodology for the age level they are teaching, who have the ability and dedication to put the key concepts into practice
  • A partnership established with the family. The family is considered an integral part of the individual’s total development.
    A multi-aged, multi-graded heterogeneous grouping of students
  • A diverse set of Montessori materials, activities and experiences which are designed to foster physical, intellectual, creative and social independence
  • A schedule which allows large blocks of time to problem solve, to see connections in knowledge and to create new ideas.
    A classroom atmosphere which encourages social interaction for cooperative learning, peer teaching and emotional development

Why are Montessori children generally self-confident, outgoing and self-reliant?

Montessori is based on a profound respect for each child’s personality. Children work from their own free choice and are allowed a large measure of independence which forms the basis of self-discipline.

As children progress at their own pace and successfully complete the self-correcting exercises, they develop confidence in their ability to understand their achievement.

Montessori presets endless opportunities among the children for mutual help which is joyfully given and received. Cooperative social interaction among children of different ages engenders feelings of friendship, respect for the rights of others, and self-confidence.

These aspects of the Montessori program help eliminate the necessity for coercion which often causes feelings of inferiority and stress.

What happens when a child leaves Montessori?

Montessori children are adaptable. They have learned to work independently and cooperatively in groups. Since they have been encouraged to make decisions from an early age, these children are problem solvers who learn to make choices and manage their time well. They have also been encouraged to exchange ideas and to discuss their work freely with others developing good communication skills which help to ease the way in new settings. Research has shown that the best predictor of future success is a sense of self-esteem. Montessori programs, which are based on self-directed, noncompetitive activities, help children develop good self-images and the confidence to face challenges and change with optimism.