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This is a good place to start to find answers to your questions. 

1. What 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, the learning 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 easier.

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.

3. 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.

4. How 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.

5. 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 frameworks.

6. 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 emotional development.

8. What 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.

9. 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.

11. 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 the program.

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 education?

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.

See the Montessori Principles for more information.

Click Here for Montessori Principles

New Horizon Montessori
Inspiring Children to Reach Their Human Potential since 1978!