How is Montessori Unique?

The child is the focus in the Montessori classroom, not the teacher. Montessori materials are built around controls that signal to the child when s/he has mastered a subject or when more work is needed. This self-governing learning process removes any sense of failure. There is no need to compete, only to achieve skills for one’s own sense of accomplishment. Direction from the teacher is only provided as needed. Beyond this, the child is guided to work independently, thus developing the ability to learn effectively on his/her own. The end goal of a Montessori education is to develop a well-rounded, excellently socialized human being with a rational, inquisitive, well-organized mind.

Why Do Most Montessori Schools Ask Young Children to Attend Five Days a Week?

Two- and three-day programs are often attractive to parents who do not need full-time care; however, five-day programs create the consistency that is so important to young children and which is essential in developing strong Montessori programs. Since the primary goal of Montessori involves creating a culture of consistency, order, and empowerment, most Montessori schools will expect children to attend five days a week.

What about Children with Special Needs?

Every child has areas of special gifts, a unique learning style, and some areas that can be considered special challenges. Each child is unique. Montessori is designed to allow for differences. It allows students to learn at their own pace and is quite flexible in adapting for different learning styles. In many cases, children with mild physical handicaps or learning disabilities may do very well in a Montessori classroom setting. On the other hand, some children do much better in a smaller, more structured classroom. Each situation has to be evaluated individually to ensure that the program can successfully meet a given child’s needs and learning style.

Is Montessori Opposed to Imagination and Creativity?

No. Imagination plays a central role, as children explore how the natural world works, visualize other cultures and ancient civilizations, and search for creative solutions to real-life problems. In Montessori schools, the Arts are normally integrated into the rest of the curriculum. Imagination coming from inside the child should be encouraged and nurtured. However, external marketing and media images – fantasy play – do not contribute to imagination and creativity, but often get in its way.

How Do Children Transition to First Grade?

Typically, very well! Despite moving on to a new environment, with new expectations and procedures, children who have a strong Montessori foundation most often adapt easily. They are confident, yet questioning, learners and social leaders. These being qualities that will help them succeed throughout the many transitions in life.

Why are Montessori classrooms mixed age?

Children in Montessori enjoy a mixed-age environment spanning 3 years. This allows for constant interaction, problem solving, and knowledge seeking and finding. We help children to find the answer not just give it to them. This mixed age environment offers opportunities for challenges to be met, leadership skills to be fostered and independence to be gained.

What is the teacher to student ratio at VMS?

In the toddler classrooms, the legal ratio is 1 adult to 7 toddlers. However, we find it much more successful to staff closer to 1 adult with 4 or 5 toddlers. In the primary classrooms, the ratio is 1 adult to 10 children. One is an AMI or AMS trained teacher and one is an experienced assistant. As part of the Montessori Method, the teacher focuses on giving lessons to one child at a time rather than lecturing to large groups. The assistant is vital in providing classroom oversight so that this can happen.

What is a typical class size at VMS?

The toddler classrooms may have a maximum group size of 14 children, and the primary classrooms may have as many as 20 children.

Are Montessori schools religious?

Yes and No. It depends on the individual school, their model and mission. At VMS, religious instruction is not part of the curriculum. We enjoy families from a wide variety of cultural and religious backgrounds.

How are children grouped in Montessori?

Children in the toddler classrooms are between the ages of 1-3. Children can begin in the primary classrooms as early as 2 ½ if they are no longer wearing pull-ups and are using the toilet consistently. They continue in the same classroom through their kindergarten year. This mixed age grouping allows for constant interaction, problem solving, peer modeling and socialization. Classrooms represent a true community cross-section where younger children learn from older children and, in turn, the older children have their skills solidified through practice.

What are work areas?

A Montessori classroom is arranged according to the major focus areas of sensorial, language, math, geography, art expression, etc. Children freely move around the room, choose and work with a particular activity for as long as they choose and put it back on the shelf for the next person. Some work areas include rugs on the floor, tables with a chair, easels or other designated spaces where they can concentrate on their chosen activity.

How are children assessed at VMS?

At the toddler and primary levels, grades are not part of the assessment system. Each teacher keeps a detailed record of the lessons given and how a child is progressing developmentally, academically and socially. Twice a year, in the fall and spring, you will have a formal opportunity to meet with your child’s teacher and discuss their growth. The teachers are available on an ongoing basis via email to assist in good communication, as well.