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Frequently Asked Questions about the Montessori Method

How do children learn when they choose the work they want to do?

The program follows curriculum flow charts that indicate the specific skills that are planned for each grade level. Teachers give lessons to the students using these guidelines. Most math and language lessons are individual, or one or one. Geometry lessons are often done in a small group. Children also receive large group lessons, mostly in the cultural areas of the curriculum. Children then choose any work in the environment that has been previously introduced on a lesson, making this activity the best activity for that particular child at that particular time.

What are the benefits of multiple age grouping?

The students have a very different experience every year — one that supports not only their academic development, but their social and emotional development as well. When they are in year one of the three-year cycle, they are the youngest students in the room. They are exposed to a wide variety of work, often learning from older students by being in proximity to them and observing what they do. They look forward to the work that is coming ahead and are excited to get there. Year two is a very comfortable place to be. They are neither the youngest nor the oldest and can offer help or receive help. Those in year three are the leaders of the room. They are eager to offer help, teach lessons, and show a sense of confidence that they can figure out and solve any problem. After the first three-year cycle, they move to a new three-year cycle and become the youngest again. This has proved to be a very healthy cycle emotionally, socially, and academically.

How does working at your own pace aid the learning process?

Every person learns differently and at a different pace. Some learners are visual learners, others auditory or kinesthetic. Some prefer math, others language. Some need to practice the skill repeatedly, while others get it the first time. In a Montessori environment, the student’s own activity and interaction with the material leads to the discovery and the embodiment of knowledge. The fact that each child is interacting with a material of his/her own choice leads to the development of concentration and focus.

How is a student’s progress assessed?

There are many forms of assessment in a Montessori classroom. Assessment happens in real time as the student works with material and shows either mastery by completing the work with accuracy or continues to work and repeat the exercise. Another form of assessment is student portfolios. A selection of student is kept in student portfolios and shared during parent teacher conferences. Teacher’s observations are very valuable when it comes to the development of each student, not only academically, but also in what it is called executive function skill. Standardized tests are additional forms of assessment are standardized, and benchmark tests given in the Upper Elementary grades.