FAQ


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Q: How does the Montessori method work?

A: Each Montessori class operates on the principle of freedom within limits. Each class (environment) has its set of ground rules that differs slightly from age to age, but is always based on the core Montessori beliefs, that is, respect for each other and for the environment. The Montessori material allows concrete manipulation of materials that are multi-sensory, sequential and self-correcting in nature, and hence facilitate the learning of skills as well as abstract ideas. The Montessori materials also have a built in ‘control of error’ which provides the learner with information as to the accuracy of his response and enables him to correct himself. The teacher demonstrates the lesson initially, and is available when needed. The child is free to work at his or her own pace with material that he or she has chosen, either alone or with others. The teacher’s role is to act as a facilitator to encourage active, self-directed learning.

Q: Are Montessori schools as academically rigorous as traditional schools?

A: Yes: Montessori classrooms encourage deep learning of the concepts behind academic skills rather than sole memorization of the curriculum. Learners at Knysna Montessori  School (KMS) have been taking the IEB Matric  since 2008 and each year have consistently passed.

Q: How much freedom is allowed in the Montessori classroom at KMS?

A: ‘Freedom within limits’. A number of ground rules help preserve the order of the classroom as the students move about. For example, the child is free to move around the classroom at will, to talk to other children, to work with any material they understand. They are allowed to choose where they would like to work and for how long, or to ask the teacher to introduce new material to them. However, a child is not allowed to interfere with other children at work or to mistreat the material that is so important to the child’s development.

Q: Is Montessori just for preschool children?

No. Although Dr. Maria Montessori did much of her work with 3 to 6 year old children, the Montessori approach to education has been used successfully with children from age two-and-a-half to eighteen from all socio-economic levels. It has benefited children who are normal, gifted, learning-disabled, mentally challenged, emotionally disturbed, and physically handicapped. Addressing the education of the whole child, this approach allows children to actively participate in their own development.

Q: What is the difference between traditional schools and Montessori schools?

A: Take a look at our comparison table to find out.

Q: Are Montessori lessons fun?

A: Of course – students have many options, and are empowered to do what interests them most. The children have free choice to decide what work they will complete throughout the day. Their time is spent on purposeful and unique lessons.

Q: Why do Montessori classrooms look different?

A: The distinctive arrangement of a Montessori classroom mirrors the Montessori method’s differences from traditional education. Rather than putting the teacher at the focal point of the class, the classroom shows a child-centered approach. Children work at tables or on floor mats where they can spread out their materials, and the teacher circulates about the room, giving lessons or resolving issues as they arise.

Q: If Montessori children are free to do whatever they want in the classroom how does the teacher ensure each student is receiving a fully rounded education?

A: Montessori children are free to choose within their provided curriculum options and have only as much freedom as they can responsibly handle. The classroom teacher and assistant ensure that children do not interfere with each other’s learning and that each child is progressing at his or her own appropriate pace in all subjects.

Q: Is it true that Montessori schools have no textbooks or homework?

A: Montessori education is experiential and hands-on; children work with specially designed materials in the classroom before learning abstract pencil-and-paper methods. As students grow into the primary and middle school years, written resources make more appearances. Students are encouraged to do their own research.  Learners from 9 years and older have homework but it’s considered important not to over-schedule a child’s time and to leave plenty of time for free play. Though many “fun” activities are considered to be appropriate learning experiences. These include reading, gardening, music lessons, hiking, journaling, or playing a sport.

Q: Are Montessori schools religious?

A: No – students are educated without reference to religious denomination. However, it is important to stress that the Montessori method does not have any conflict with any religion either.

Q: How are students adequately prepared for real-life competition?

A: Montessori classrooms emphasize competition with oneself: self-monitoring, self-correction, and a variety of other executive skills aimed at continuous self-improvement. Students typically become comfortable with their strengths and learn how to address their weaknesses. In older classes, students commonly participate in competitive activities in which students give their best performances while simultaneously encouraging peers to do the same.

Q: How do Montessori graduates fare in the real world?

A: Increasingly, the modern world favors creative thinkers who combine personal initiative with strong collaborative skills: exactly the characteristics which Montessori education nurtures. Adults who attended Montessori schools have spoken of their childhood experiences with the Montessori method saying it gave them not only the ability to work cooperatively in existing settings, but also the skills of confidence, creativity, and communication needed to make innovative and ground-breaking changes.

Q: Should my child have had a Montessori education before starting in the Primary, Middle or High School at KMS?

A: Whilst we would encourage a Montessori education for all children from the age of 2, we appreciate that this is not always possible. We accept children from all schooling backgrounds all the way through to High School and will do everything in our power to ensure that they settle well and quickly with minimal academic upheaval.

 

Montessori Education

Traditional Education

View the child holistically, valuing cognitive, psychological, social, and spiritual development Views the child in terms of competence, skill level, and achievement with and emphasis on core curricula standards and social development
Child is an active participant in learning – allowed to move about and respectfully explore the classroom environment Child is a more passive participant in learning
Teacher is an instructional facilitator and guide Teacher has a more dominant, central role in classroom activity
A carefully prepared learning environment and method encourages development of internal self-discipline and intrinsic motivation Teacher acts as a primary enforcer of external discipline promoting extrinsic motivation
Instruction, both individual and group, adapts to students’ learning styles and development levels Instruction, both individual and group, adapts to core curricula benchmarks
Three-year span of age grouping Same-age and/or skill level grouping
Grace, courtesy, and conflict resolution are integral part of daily Montessori peace curriculum Conflict resolution is usually taught separately from daily classroom activity
Values concentration and depth of experience; supplies uninterrupted time for focused work cycle to develop Values completion of assignments; time is tightly scheduled
Child’s learning pace is internally determined Instructional pace usually set by core-curricula standard expectations, group norm, or teacher
Child allowed to spot own errors through feedback from the materials; errors are viewed as part of learning process Work is usually corrected by the teacher; errors are viewed as mistakes
Learning is reinforced internally through the child’s own repetition of an activity and internal feelings of success Learning is reinforced externally by test scores and rewards, competition and grades
Care of self and environment are emphasized as integral to the learning experience Less emphasis on self-care, spatial awareness, and care of environment
Child can work where he/she is comfortable and the child often has choices between working alone or with a group Child is usually assigned a specific work space; talking among peers discouraged unless assigned a group activity
Multi-disciplinary, interwoven curriculum Curriculum areas usually taught as separate topics
Progress is reported through multiple formats: conferences, narrative reports, checklists and portfolio of student’s work Progress is usually reported through conferences, report cards/grades, and test scores
Children are encouraged to teach, collaborate, and help each other Most teaching is done by the teacher and collaboration is an alternative teaching strategy
Child is provided opportunities to choose own work from interest and abilities, concepts taught within context of interest Curricula organized and structured for child based on core curricula standards
Goal is to foster a love of learning Goal is to master curricula objectives

Q.  Are Montessori schools registered and accredited?

A. Montessori Schools which extend into formal education are required to register as Independent schools with the Provincial Department of Education, and therefore adhere to the laws governing these schools.Through the Basic Rights and Responsibilities for Independent Schools (from the Department of Basic Education) allows for the right to implement a Montessori Curriculum.

Our school, either in its own right or through Sonia as the Principal, is also member of the following organisations:

•         SAMA (Sonia Heaton has South African Montessori Association accreditation)

•         North American Montessori Teachers Association (NAMTA)

•         South African Council of Educators (SACE)

•         UMALUSI (under accreditation)

Q.  What are the hours in a typical Montessori day?

THE SCHOOL DAY:

FOUNDATION PHASE (2 – 6 years) 08.30 – 14.00 (6 – 9 years) 07.45 – 14.00

INTERMEDIATE PHASE (9 – 12 years) 07.45 – 14.00

MIDDLE SCHOOL (12 – 15 years) 07.45 – 15.30

HIGH SCHOOL (15 – 18 years) 07.45 – 15.30

  • Middle and High School have sport from 15:30-16:30 – timetable with details given to all students
  • High School finishes at 15:00 on Friday