Montessori Children's House • 2400 Division Street South • Northfield, MN 55057 • 507.645.2445

FAQs

Q:

What is Montessori Education?

A:

This system of education is both a philosophy of child growth and a rationale for guiding such growth. It is based on the child’s developmental needs for freedom within limits and a carefully prepared environment that guarantees exposure to materials and experiences through which to develop intelligence as well as physical and psychological abilities. It is designed to take full advantage of the self-motivation and unique ability of children to develop their own capabilities. The child needs adults to expose him to the possibilities of his life but the child himself must direct his response to those possibilities. Premises of Montessori education are:

  • Children are to be respected as different from adults, and as individuals who differ from each other.
  • The child possesses unusual sensitivity and mental powers for absorbing and learning from his environment that are unlike those of the adult both in quality and capacity.
  • The most important years of growth are the first six years of life when unconscious learning is gradually brought to the conscious level.
  • The child has a deep love and need for purposeful work. He works, however, not as an adult for profit and completion of a job, but for the sake of the activity itself. It is this activity which accomplishes for him his most important goal: the development of himself – his mental, physical, and psychological powers

Q:

Is it true that Montessori allows children to do whatever they want to do, for as long as they want to to it?

A:

A Montessori classroom is a carefully prepared environment with a variety of materials and activities to satisfy the youngest to the most advanced student. Children in a Montessori environment may choose their own work; however a teacher must first present a lesson on that material. A child may work on the material as long as he or she likes. Montessori teachers are trained in observation. The teacher keeps careful records of what lessons have been given, observes the child and his choice of activities, and checks each child’s knowledge in one area before moving on to the next lesson. The teacher will offer an alternative to a child who has chosen something beyond his ability. Children are free to move about the classroom at will, to talk to other children, to work with any equipment that they understand, or to ask a teacher to introduce new materials. A child is not free to disturb other children or to misuse materials.

Q:

What is the approach to discipline?

A:

There tend to be very few discipline problems in a Montessori classroom. When discipline issues occur at MCH, we have two solutions. First, most discipline problems occur because a child has not found work that is sufficiently interesting to hold his or her attention. Therefore the teacher will introduce a new activity to the child. Second, a child may be asked to remove himself from the group to a space, within the classroom, designated as the “quiet spot” to take a few minutes to “quiet their body.” Children learn how to calm themselves down and regain control during group lessons given at the beginning of each year. Individual children may have repeated lessons in this area. The child who has been removed from the group may return when he or she feels “quieted.” Children also learn to remove themselves to regain control. Sometimes an adult will speak with a child away from the group. If a child disturbs another child, physically or verbally, the children are removed from the group and walked through the steps of conflict resolution with the aide of an adult.

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Q:

What is the approach to discipline?

A:

There tend to be very few discipline problems in a Montessori classroom. When discipline issues occur at MCH, we have two solutions. First, most discipline problems occur because a child has not found work that is sufficiently interesting to hold his or her attention. Therefore the teacher will introduce a new activity to the child. Second, a child may be asked to remove himself from the group to a space, within the classroom, designated as the “quiet spot” to take a few minutes to “quiet their body.” Children learn how to calm themselves down and regain control during group lessons given at the beginning of each year. Individual children may have repeated lessons in this area. The child who has been removed from the group may return when he or she feels “quieted.” Children also learn to remove themselves to regain control. Sometimes an adult will speak with a child away from the group. If a child disturbs another child, physically or verbally, the children are removed from the group and walked through the steps of conflict resolution with the aide of an adult.

Q:

How do the children in a Montessori class learn to socialize and share?

A:

Socializing and learning to share come very naturally in a Montessori classroom. Children are not required to share their work nor are any children permitted to touch another’s work unless invited to do so. As you look around the room you will see many children working together. Many times children are so excited about what they are able to do that they want to give a lesson or demonstration to someone else. Throughout the day there are many opportunities for this natural, spontaneous socializing. Children are also given ample opportunity to share ideas, information, work and special items during group lessons and daily circle time.

Q:

How do children do in other schools after a Montessori education?

A:

Studies have shown that Montessori children are very adaptable to new situations. They have learned to work independently and in groups. Since they have been encouraged to make decisions from an early age, Montessori children are problem solvers who are able to make choices and manage their time well. They have also been encouraged to exchange ideas and to discuss their work freely with others and good communication skills ease the way in new settings. Research has shown that the best predictor of future success is a sense of self-esteem. Montessori programs, based on self-directed, non-competitive activities, help children develop positive self-images and the confidence to face challenges and change with optimism.

Notable Montessori Alumni:

  • Jeff Bezos, financial analyst, founder of Amazon.com
  • Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, former editor, former first lady (John F. Kennedy)
  • Berry Brazelton, noted pediatrician and author
  • Sergey Brin & Larry Page, co-founders of Google.com
  • Julia Child, famous chef, star of many TV cooking shows and author of numerous cookbooks
  • Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, rap star, music mogul
  • Peter Drucker, Management Guru
  • Katharine Graham, former owner-editor of the Washington Post "The Montessori method—learning by doing— once again became my stock in trade..." from Personal History by Katharine Graham
  • Prince William and Prince Harry, English royal family
  • Anne Frank, famous diarist from World War II
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel Prize winner for Literature
  • Melissa and Sarah Gilbert, actors
  • Friedensreich Hundertwasser, Austrian painter and architect
  • Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia
  • Will Wright, designer of The Sims
  • Helen Hunt, Academy Award-winning actress
  • George Clooney, Academy Award-winning actor
  • Joshua Bell, American violinist, owner of Stradivarius violin
  • Lea Salonga, a Filipino-American singer and Broadway actress


Famous people who chose Montessori schools for their own children:

  • Patty Duke Austin, actress
  • Cher Bono, singer, actress
  • John Bradshaw, psychologist and author
  • Yul Brynner, former actor
  • Marcy Carcy, TV producer
  • William Jefferson and Hillary Clinton, former president/senator, NY
  • Michael Douglas, actor
  • Shari Lewis, former puppeteer
  • Yo Yo Ma, cellist
  • Willie Nelson, musician, has a Montessori school on his ranch
  • Elizabeth Berridge, actress
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Q:

Where can I get more information on the Montessori method?

A:

Many books are available about Dr. Montessori and her work. At Montessori Children’s House, we recommend:

  • A Parent's Guide to the Montessori Classroom by Ailene Wolf 
  • Montessori - A Modern Approach by Paula Polk Lillard
  • Montessori - The Science Behind the Genius by Dr. Angeline Lillard

Organizations

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