subjects are taught in the early childhood classroom?
Montessori is a totally integrated method that embeds
all learning. Although adults traditionally think in terms of separate
subjects, the Montessori classroom has a more global approach. That being said, however,
materials are grouped by general subject areas, like science, math, art,
language, geography, history, etc.
It’s interesting to note, though, that a number of the Montessori
lessons can fit into more than one subject area.
In general, the most important part of learning is
learning how to learn and enjoying the process. That is the first focus of a
Montessori classroom. Once children enjoy the process, then learning becomes
In Montessori, children learn how to be physically
independent through the use of the practical life materials, they gain facility
with their senses (the pathways for all input into the brain) with the vast
array of sensorial material (including bells for acquisition of music). Children gain
mastery of language
(reading, writing, composing, grammar) with the language materials. Mathematics
and arithmetic materials help children learn numeration as well as the basic
operations and fractions, plus beginning algebraic thinking. Additionally there
are materials for biology, history, geography, experimental science and art
(theory, technique and appreciation).
2. When would
you expect my child to be reading?
Every child will begin reading at a different time
depending on many variables including environmental factors outside the
parameters of school. Furthermore, there are different definitions of
“reading.” The Montessori method uses a tactile, kinesthetic approach to
phonetics that makes it possible for children to learn to sound out phonetic
words very early. Reading longer phonetic words, non-phonetic words and
sentences will follow as children gain mastery at each level. There is a wide
range of “normal” ages for children to begin reading. The Montessori environment
supports the natural developmental
stages for reading skills.
Are there specific expectations
regarding reading and math for certain age groups?
It is always best to look at children as unique
individuals and help them learn what is best for them individually. When
Montessori teachers begin setting standards for groups of children, then
children become labeled depending on how they meet those group expectations.
With that being said, however, there are
materials/concepts that children generally master in a predictable order. One of the
most fundamental differences
between Montessori and traditional schooling is that in Montessori children are
allowed to master new materials/concepts at their own pace. Once each level of
mastery is reached the adults present new challenges to help keep children
involved and interested.
is it determined that child has mastered a skill?
Montessori teachers are trained to observe children’s
work carefully, so as to be prepared to introduce each child to new lessons
that meet individual needs.
Through careful observation and note taking, the teacher observes what
individual children are choosing, how often they are choosing certain
activities, how they are using the lessons, whether the lessons need to be introduced
to individuals again, and what lessons individual children might be ready to
try. It’s extremely important,
however, that his observation is done in such a way as to not disturb the
children’s work. The materials are also organized in ways to point adults to
the next step in the conceptual process. Finally, the record-keeping format
helps teachers plan appropriate presentations for each child.
What about the state frameworks?
State frameworks provide benchmarks of what children
should know for each grade level.
Because Montessori allows children to develop and learn at their own
pace rather than insisting that every child learn the same thing at the same
time, state frameworks don’t correlate to the learning that happens in a
Montessori classroom. Over time,
children in Montessori will learn as much, and often more, than their
counterparts in public education.
The important thing is that Montessori children learn how to learn while also enjoying the process of
learning. As a result, they learn
the skills that prepare them to easily master the content outlined in the state
Does New Horizon Montessori administer
any standardized tests?
As an approved Tennessee school we are required to be No Child Left Behind compliant. We use the
Brigance Diagnostic Assessment of Basic Skills for this purpose.
7. Are there report cards?
There are no letter or number grades given in
Montessori. Regular parent-teacher
conferences, narrative progress reports, and frequent notes about a child’s
work provide authentic information about a child’s academic, social, and
are the goals for the social development of the children?
Montessori education is essentially an education for
peace. Maria Montessori recognized
how the Montessori Method could transform humanity into a more loving and
peaceful existence. One of the
goals of Montessori is for children to have freedom coupled with
responsibility, which then leads to self-respect, security, and creativity. When a
child develops this deep
self-assurance and self-respect he or she can truly accept and respect
others. This mutual respect
enables collaboration and joyous cooperation. In addition, the child learns to appreciate and value the
inter-connections that make life on earth possible.
Will the kindergarten program at New Horizon prepare my child for first grade
in public school?
The point of Montessori is to prepare children for
life, not for a particular grade in public school. Children transition out of
Montessori at all ages. Typically, the longer they have been in Montessori, the
better prepared they are for any contingency. When students enjoy learning and
are confident in themselves as learners, they are not at a disadvantage if they
move into another learning venue where other children may have learned
something a bit differently or at a different time.
10. Do you know how a
child coming from Montessori can expect to transition, both academically and
socially, to traditional school when the time comes? Where do children go when they leave New Horizon?
Reports from teachers of children transitioning to
traditional school from Montessori are very positive. They find that Montessori
children are often leaders due to their sense of confidence, both socially and
academically. Children who have a positive view of learning and school, tend to
do well regardless of the kind of new academic setting they are in. The key is
helping them to maintain that attitude when they are young, or developing it if
they have already lost it. Children naturally love to learn. Unfortunately
traditional schooling all too often causes children to dread school and
learning. We recommend that children stay through elementary and then move into Montessori Middle School.
How is discipline handled?
The ultimate goal in Montessori is for children to
develop self-discipline. The
prepared environment in a Montessori classroom thus provides a setting in which
children can learn to control their own actions, rather than relying on the
adults’ authority. If a child is
disruptive or unmotivated, the Montessori teacher first analyzes how to better
serve that child. In her book, The
Discovery of the Child, Maria Montessori
wrote, “In our system we obviously have a different concept of discipline. The
discipline we are looking for is
active. We do not believe that one
is disciplined only when he is artificially made as silent as a mute and as
motionless as a paralytic. Such a
one is not disciplined but annihilated.”
In Montessori children are not coerced. Children are guided and teachers talk with them rationally
and with great compassion and love. It is important for children to have
regular opportunities to make choices and in so doing, gain the experience of
recognizing their role in consequences and responsibilities.
12. What about children
with learning disabilities or ADD/ADHD or behavior issues? How are their
needs served and balanced with rest of group?
Although the Montessori method was originally
developed with children of special needs, it is important to have a functioning
classroom that can absorb children with extreme issues. For that reason, it
will be important to consider each child individually before acceptance into
13. Is Montessori a religiously based program?
Although Maria Montessori was a practicing Catholic,
she developed the Montessori method based on her experience as a medical doctor
and keen observer of children. While some Montessori schools incorporate
religious instruction into their curriculum, New Horizon is a totally secular
school. At the elementary level children study major world religions as part of
their cultural studies, but it is the policy of NHMS to allow parents to decide
what religion they want their children to practice. As part of the study of
science and history elementary students also have access to current scientific
models including evolution.
14. What makes Montessori different from traditional
The Montessori classroom is a community of learners
and the Montessori school becomes a community of families. Children stay
together for several years and teachers gain a deep understanding of their
needs and personalities. The adults strive to find the perfect fit of teaching
styles for each student so they can be inspired to pursue learning with
enthusiasm. The stability of the Montessori community is also an important
factor for the school. Enrolling in Montessori should be weighed carefully so
the community of children and families does not suffer from the premature loss
of any family.