What is Montessori Education?

Montessori education is based on Dr. Maria Montessori’s philosophy of education for the preschool-age child between the ages of 3 to 6 years. During this age range, the child’s mind is like a sponge and is capable of absorbing information received from the outside world at a remarkable pace. The Montessori trained “Directress” carefully guides the child in a specially prepared classroom with “hands-on” materials designed to correspond to the developmental periods of each child.

What are the benefits of a Montessori program?

Each child is evaluated and then receives an educational plan tailored to their unique and individual level.

Children are able to learn at their own pace.

The Montessori classroom accommodates all learning styles.

Teaches children self-motivation and self-directed learning that promotes both focus and concentrate while creating an environment where children want to learn.

Your child will master the important life skill of being a self-directed learne and achieve greater independence.

Children learn order and become responsible for maintaining order in the work environment.

Your child’s self-esteem will grow within an environment of mutual respect and dignity and, in the process, learn to be respectful to others.

The multiage classroom allows students to work together to help each other learn and grow while gaining greater self-confidence and social skill.

The multi-disciplinary approach taken towards your child’s interests teaches children how to learn instead of just what to learn.

How does BWMCH differ from other Montessori schools?

We are a non-profit, one-room school affiliated with the American Montessori Society (AMS). Our nonprofit status allows us to focus completely upon what is best for our students and staff without the typical burdens associated with for-profit schools.

We are not a play-based operation dressed up to look like a Montessori school. Indeed, our school has the highest level of AMS Acredidation available and we take the educational responsibilities of our school very seriously. Through the correct application of the Montessori philosophy, we are able to provide an incredible education to our young students while providing a positive social environment that just seems like having fun despite the academic rigor of the program.

Our school year begins with an Open House and New Parent Orientation meeting followed by four days of orientation during the first week of school to allow the children to adjust to their new environment.

Is a private school right for me?

This is a typical question that we often hear. There is no arrogance surrounding our school. On the contrary, we’re a group of parents from very diverse socio-economic backgrounds that share the collective goal of providing the best preschool and kindergarten experience possible for our children. Our staff have each been highly selected and rigorously trained to meet this goal. Each family is a vital part of our overall community and treated with both respect and professionalism by our staff and by each other.

If you are looking to for a great school to introduce your child to a progressive learning environment and pro-social engagement, then our school is right for you.

Do all children “fit-in” to the Montessori classroom?

There is no Montessori-child; all children can be a Montessori child! Each child may come into the classroom with a different set of experiences but the classroom is designed to allow each child to learn at his/her own pace and accommodates a variety of levels and ability.

Why does the classroom have mixed age groups (3-6) in each classroom?

Maria Montessori discovered that putting older and younger children together helps them teach and learn from each other. The younger children are motivated and nurtured by the older children and the older ones while this increases their self-esteem and reinforces what they have learned by modeling their skills to others.

Why a three-year cycle?

Dr. Montessori identified four “planes of development,” with each stage having its own developmental characteristics and challenges. The Early Childhood Montessori environment for children ages three to six is designed to work with the “absorbent mind,” their “sensitive periods” and the tendencies of children at this stage of their development. The years from 3-6 are one phase of growth, with physical, intellectual and psychological characteristics common to this entire cohort. Learning that takes place during these years comes spontaneously without effort, leading children to enter the elementary years with a clear, concrete sense of many abstract concepts.

This process seems to necessitate an educational approach with an extended time frame within which the individual child has room to grow at his/her own pace. In accordance with this thinking, a Montessori school program, including the developmental learning aids and the work activities which go with it, is sequential and meant to be experienced over a three-year time span and not in individual, successive, one-year capsules. This process seems to work best when children enter a Montessori program at age three and stay at least through the kindergarten year. Children entering at age four or five do not consistently come to the end of the three-year cycle having developed the same skills, work habits or values. Older children entering Montessori may do quite well in this very different setting, but this will depend to a large degree on their personality and previous educational experiences. While a child may gain much from attending a Montessori program for any length of time, full benefits are likely to require extended exposure. For instance, such teachings as the three R’s, which are not so much taught as they are learned, require progressive build-up for successful development. The same can be said for such acquisitions as personal work habits and social consciousness; these too require time for internalization.

The three-year cycle also relates to Montessori’s valuable concept of age-mixed and ungraded classes. However, it is not just a simple matter of 3-4 year olds, 4-5 year olds, and 5-6 year olds spending time together in one environment. The hope is really that the younger children might learn from older ones who, in turn, have come up from “the ranks” and are well on their way to being self-directed. Such quality is hard to achieve with frequent and substantial turn over.

What does polishing a mirror and washing a table have to do with education?

The Practical Life area is very unique to a Montessori classroom. Through repetitive, hands-on and very purposeful activities, the child learns to do things for him or herself. At the same time, indirect learning beyond polishing a mirror, folding laundry, washing a table, or opening and closing a bottle is occurring. The children learn concentration, coordination, manual dexterity, order and independence. Far from being trivial, these skills form the necessary foundation for all future learning as they stir important areas in the brain. Not to mention, children are interested in learning “real” things which accounts for the tremendous popularity of these exercises.

My child is very active; will he/she adjust to the program?

Children who are active at home behave differently in the classroom. In the classroom, the limits and rules are clearly defined and consistently enforced. The classroom materials are routinely rotated to continually stimulate the child’s interest. The Directress (teacher) regularly observes the classroom and, if necessary, directs the child to materials that will engage him or her in the learning process.

What makes a Montessori teacher different?

You will notice that Montessori teachers are referred to as a Directress because what they do is direct the child toward what he needs to teach himself. In the classroom, your child will be taught individually or in small groups. This allows the teacher to get immediate feedback and to see how well the child is absorbing the lesson and what questions or needs he/she may have. Each Montessori teacher has been trained in the science of child observation. They spend time every day observing the class: how it is functioning as a whole and how the children are progressing with their work. They use the Montessori materials to enhance the learning experience. The Directress will observe your child, determine his/her level of development and what guidance they need to progress to the next level.

If my child has a Montessori education, can he go into another kind of education program that is not Montessori based?

Due to the fact that Montessori does such a great job at creating a love for learning, as well as the ability to focus, concentrate, cooperate with others and work independently, Montessori children do well in any school situation.

Do you have a part-time program?

Consistency and routine give the young child a sense of security and order required for concentration and focus. Our curriculum is based on a five-day, three-year program. Therefore, we offer a half-day program, five days per week, for our three year old students, and a half-day or full-day option for the four and five year old students. Half-day is available in the morning only as this is the time that children in these age ranges learn best.

Why do we refer to a child or the classroom as being normalized?

The term normalized child is used to describe a child who has adjusted to the order of a Montessori classroom and can engage in his/her own learning. Within this environment, their true nature can be expressed. Typical characteristics of a “normalized child” include calm, confident, grounded, enthusiastic about learning and positive attitude towards others. This takes time to accomplish, usually several months, hence the reason we don’t allow visitors and/or parents in the classroom for the first eight weeks of school.