FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What makes a preschool “Montessori?”
The number one thing any true Montessori school has is a fully credentialed teacher in every classroom. I became certified by the American Montessori Society (AMS) after completing 300 hours of coursework, a 9-month-long internship at an established Montessori preschool, and passing a comprehensive exam. A bachelor’s degree is also required.
Another marker of a Montessori preschool is the availability of authentic Montessori materials in a beautiful, peaceful setting. There are certain things you will see in every Montessori classroom: Pink Tower, Red Rods, Puzzle Maps…the list goes on and on! Multi-age classrooms with individualized curriculum for every student and a 3-hour uninterrupted work cycle are also “musts” in the authentic Montessori classroom.
What is a typical day like in a Montessori preschool?
At Via Montessori, the school day begins with drop-off between 8:30 and 9 a.m. The children enter the classroom and go right to work! This means they may choose any work they see on the shelf, as long as they have had a lesson on that work. Options range from the fine-motor practice of “practical life” to a wide variety of work in language, math, science, and art.
During this time, the child is free to move quietly about the classroom, use the bathroom whenever he or she needs to (not just at “potty time”), and eat snack when he or she is hungry. All the while, the teacher can be found giving small-group lessons or providing individual instruction. The children are self-directed within the classroom, but the teacher is always busy observing, guiding, and quietly recording students’ progress.
Around 11:15, we ring the bell as a signal for children to put their work away and come to circle where we sing songs, do our sharing, and explore new ideas together. After that, the children go outside to play. Some children stay for lunch, while others go home at noon. For those who stay, a second work cycle awaits.
If the children are all doing different things at different times, isn’t the classroom chaotic?
Amazingly, the Montessori classroom is quite peaceful. Walk into any well-functioning Montessori classroom, and you will see as many as 20 children (or even more at some schools) working away. Some will be in the midst of a new lesson with the teacher. Others will be chatting quietly with a friend at the snack table. Some will be so engrossed in the work they have chosen, they won’t even see you enter the room!
Aren’t Montessori preschools expensive?
Montessori preschool does not have to be expensive! At Via Montessori, we strive to make Montessori an option for anyone who wants it. That means we keep our tuition as low as possible (while still paying our bills!), and are willing to work with families to arrange tuition payment plans or scholarships. We also offer more part-time options than many other Montessori schools, thus making it a more appealing option for some families.
Won’t it be difficult for my child to transition to a “traditional” school later on?
Both personally and professionally, I can vouch for the fact that transitioning from Montessori preschool to traditional elementary school is not a problem. A well-prepared Montessori environment helps children practice self-control, explore their independence, and become self-motivated learners. With these skills, children are confident, adaptable, and ready to take on a variety of settings and situations--including a traditional classroom.
If the children choose their own work, how do I know my child will be prepared for kindergarten or first grade?
It is my job as a teacher to gently guide the children from one milestone to the next. They do choose their own work, but a few carefully-timed presentations can lead them right down the path to success.
If the children are always working by themselves, how do they learn social skills?
The Montessori environment offers children many “real world” social opportunities. The freedom to move about the classroom and choose their own work sets them up for small social challenges throughout the day. From sharing and taking turns (there is only one of each “work” on the shelf), to the understanding that it is more polite to walk around someone’s work rather than through it, social graces are a priority in the Montessori classroom.