Frequently Asked Questions

Below are most common questions families often ask regarding the Montessori program. 

Where did Montessori come from?

Montessori (pronounced MON-tuh-SORE-ee) education was founded in 1907 by Dr. Maria Montessori, the first woman in Italy to become a physician. She based her educational methods on scientific observation of children's learning processes. Guided by her discovery that children teach themselves, Dr. Montessori designed a "prepared environment" in which children could freely choose from a number of developmentally appropriate activities. Now, nearly a century after Maria Montessori's first Casa dei Bambini ("Children's House") in Rome, Montessori education is found all over the world, spanning ages from birth to adolescence.

What is the difference between Montessori and Traditional education?

Montessori emphasizes learning through all five senses, not just through listening, watching, or reading. Children in Montessori classes learn at their own, individual pace and according to their own choice of activities from hundreds of possibilities. Learning is an exciting process of discovery, leading to concentration, motivation, self-discipline, and a love of learning. Montessori classes place children in three-year age groups (3-6, 6-9, 9-12, and so on), forming communities in which the older children spontaneously share their knowledge with the younger ones. Montessori represents an entirely different approach to education.

What special training do Montessori teachers have?

The two major organizations offering Montessori training in the United States are the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) and the American Montessori Society (AMS). Most training centers require a bachelor's degree for admission. Training ranges from 200 to 600 pre-service contact hours and covers principles of child development and Montessori philosophy as well as specific uses of the Montessori classroom materials. All directors at TCAPS' Montessori are certified teachers with a minimum of a Bachelor's degree in education in addition to his/her Montessori certification(s).

Are Montessori children successful later in life?

Research studies show that Montessori children are well prepared for later life academically, socially, and emotionally. In addition to scoring well on standardized tests, Montessori children are ranked above average on such criteria as following directions, turning in work on time, listening attentively, using basic skills, showing responsibility, asking provocative questions, showing enthusiasm for learning, and adapting to new situations.

Why doesn't my child get grades? How do I know that s/he is learning?

There are no grades, or other forms of reward or punishment, subtle or overt. Assessment is by portfolio and the teacher's observation and record keeping. The test of whether or not the system is working lies in the accomplishment and behavior of the children, their happiness, maturity, kindness, and love of learning and level of work.

What is the Montessori method of education?

Maria Montessori never set out to make a system of education. Rather, her methods of teaching evolved from her observations of the children in her care. She observed that the child absorbs from the environment she is in, and using specially designed materials she was able to call to the child's inner desire to learn. These materials are presented in small groups, frequently on the floor, encouraging individual hands-on participation, and peer problem-solving dialogue. The child is allowed certain freedoms to be independent within the structure of the Montessori method. Control of error is built into manipulative materials and charts, encouraging self-confidence and independence.

Why should I send my child to a Montessori school?

Confidence and the love of learning are the two most important goals for the elementary child. Montessori developed a three-period lesson which fosters confidence. The first lesson is a gift. The second lesson is a choice, i.e. "which of the following is correct", often using self-correcting materials. The third lesson is the direct question, "what is it?" With confidence and a sense of acquiring knowledge as an adventure in lifelong learning, children can reach a greater potential personally and as citizens of the world.

When should I start my child in Montessori?

Starting a child at 2 1/2 or 3 in a good Montessori environment with well-trained directresses can have results that will remain with the child all her life. Montessori was herself amazed at the abilities of young children two and three years old. In her environments she discovered that they were able to absorb concrete materials using all their senses simultaneously, a unique ability soon lost. She called these times "Sensitive Periods", and developed specific materials for that time. As the child grows these periods change, yet the continuum is set in motion for the rest of the child's life. Therefore, the early years are the most important, yet most neglected in many societies.

How can parents help at home?

To give the child the best opportunity for development, the Montessori principles and philosophy should be implemented in the home from birth. Parents need to read books as well as attend workshops, lectures and courses, if possible, on implementing the Montessori philosophy in the home. If the home and school environments complement each other, the child will receive the maximum benefit.