Frequently Asked Questions
Who was Maria Montessori?
Maria Montessori (1870-1952) was an Italian physician and educator who developed a psychologically-based philosophy for educating children. She believed education should equip children with the skills to live in their environment; and to live responsibly, decisively, compassionately, and peacefully. She emphasized teaching children how to think and how to learn, rather than a prescribed set of facts.
How does Montessori education work?
The classroom is carefully designed with beautiful materials that are fascinating to children, and that allow them to master age-appropriate skills involving greater coordination and independence. Typically, children are scattered around the room on floor rugs or at tables, working independently or in pairs. The teachers are working with children individually or in small groups. The classrooms are calm and peaceful, and the children are absorbed in their activities. When the children are hungry, they prepare their own snack, and pass snacks to others. If a child is uncertain about what activity to begin, the teacher will help redirect by offering enticing choices; this is how the child learns to make independent choices and find his or her own way (a process they will experience throughout life). Confidence comes from making decisions and solving problems oneself.
What is the reason for three-year age groups in the classroom?
The mixed-aged classes offer many benefits to the child. First, the younger children benefit from the example set by the older children, both academically and socially. The children learn from each other and learn to respect each other’s capabilities and learning styles. The older children benefit from assuming a leadership role in their class, helping the younger ones and sharing their knowledge. They develop a deeper sense of their personal journey by observing and recalling their own evolution in the classroom. The children develop a deep sense of community by spending three years in the same class. Finally, the mixed ages allow for small-group lessons that are geared to abilities, and recognize that each child develops at his or her own pace.
What programs are offered for the 3 to 6 age group?
- 3 and 4 year olds attend five days a week from 8:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.
- Optional Afternoon Program for 3 and 4 year olds from 12:15 p.m. to 2:45 p.m.
- Kindergarten for 5 year olds from 8:45 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.
- Early morning drop off and after school child care are available as well.
What is the discipline policy?
One of the goals of MMS is to cultivate mutual respect, cooperation, sensitivity, and fairness among students. Teachers guide children to help them develop a sense of responsibility to the community and those around them. The child has the freedom to learn, with teacher support, from his or her own experience what behavior works best. If a student’s behavior is not acceptable, the child is helped to see that this behavior has consequences.
What is the role of the parents?
At MMS, we talk about the relationship between parent, teacher, and child as looking like a Venn diagram. The three roles intersect in some ways, and remain separate in others. Parents observe in the classrooms twice a year, meet in conference with the teachers twice a year, and beginning in kindergarten, receive a detailed report of the child’s development. Teachers and administrators are attentive to parents’ concerns. An active Parents Association supports the work of the school and organizes activities to foster a cohesive school community. Recognizing the important role of caregivers in the lives of the children, MMS organizes a special workshop to help caregivers re-enforce Montessori ideas at home.
How does MMS prepare its students for their next schools?
Our sixth grade graduates are successful in their schools because they have a solid foundation in academic subjects (such as math, literature, writing, and history) and they understand how to ask questions, analyze problems, organize their time and their work, and take pride in the presentation of their ideas. They are curious learners and know how to ask the “big” questions and where to seek the answers. Our graduates have attended some of the most demanding schools in the city.