Q
Is Montessori right for my child with learning disabilities? For my gifted child?
Studies show that Montessori learning is beneficial for children because each child is taught at his or her level. The goal for every child is to reach their greatest potential. Because the learning is individualized and a child moves at his or her own pace, it benefits all types of learners. A gifted child is never held stagnant in his or her learning and a child needing more time to learn a concept is never rushed to move forward until it is mastered. The social, emotional, and academic growth of each individual child is supported.
Q
How much homework should my child expect to have?
Old Peachtree begins to assign homework in the first year of elementary. It will not be homework that consists of page after page of busywork but interesting assignments that support topics that the children are studying in school. Your child may be given the task of researching a certain topic. Weekly spelling lists go home with your child on which they are tested. No grades are given to these tests. If they get any words incorrect, they must revise the word and practice spelling it. Montessori education and theory provides a daily environment for learning. Maria Montessori believed that children interacting in the home community in the evenings provided rich experiences such as cooking, reading together, planning and even chores which build responsibility. Homework doesn’t need to be boring. We try to challenge the child to think, explore, and pursue tangible projects. Homework is intended to afford students the opportunity to practice and reinforce skills introduced in the classroom. Assignments are geared toward the child’s individual level. Homework should never become a battleground between a parent and child. One of our goals as parents and teachers of Montessori is to teach the child how to learn to organize, budget time, and follow through until the assignment is complete. Parents should be available to guide students when needed. Upper Elementary students will have homework that will vary throughout the year.
Q
What about creativity?
Art is an important part of learning in the Montessori classroom. The children explore, experiment, and create throughout their day, using blocks, cooking ingredients, materials, etc. The physical surroundings are rich in the arts: famous art reproductions hang on the walls, Mozart's music is enjoyed during lunch, and all the children's senses are used to promote an awareness and appreciation of the beauty in all things. Children enjoy using paint, pencils, charcoal, and glue to create their own masterpieces. The older child creates 3D models, posters and other visual aids incorporating art into their lessons when studying history, science, math and international studies. A full time art instructor is on staff to help teach children technique and the proper use of each medium.
Q
Who accredits Montessori schools? How do I know that that OPMS is a “real” Montessori school?
There is no patent on the name "Montessori." The AMI is founded by Maria Montessori and her son, and provides in-depth postgraduate education and training. The organization also recognizes schools which adhere to the high standards they set. Our staff consists of AMI certified teachers and a certified Director of Education. Our school is proud to be accredited by the AMI.
Q
What are the basics of the Montessori Philosophy?
Maria Montessori advocated respect for the dignity of the child and acknowledgement of his/her potential for self-development. Given free choice, the child will be naturally drawn toward that which fulfills his/her innermost needs. First s/he requires the freedom to pursue his/her own plan of development, to make his/her own choices, so long as they do not interfere with the freedom of others. Second, s/he requires an environment that is prepared to meet his/her needs. As adults, we must observe the child to discover his/her needs so that we can modify his/her environment accordingly. There are general stages of development which children progress through at their own rate. Montessori referred to “sensitive periods,” a time when a child is particularly receptive to certain stimuli. If parents are aware of a child's focus in a certain sensitive period, much can be done to facilitate his/her mastery of this aspect of his/her environment that is structured to provide a definite place for objects, will encourage and aid a child maintaining order. Other sensitive periods include:
  • Sensory Experience (exploration with hands and tongue) – birth to 3 years
  • Language development – birth to 6 years
  • Movement – birth to 2 years
  • Small Objects – 1 ½ to 4 years
  • Refinement of Movement – 2 to 6 years
  • Sensory Refinement – 2 ½ to 6 years
Children have an ongoing need and determination to strive for independence; to be able to do for themselves all that they are capable of doing. The environment plays a key role in allowing and encouraging independence.
Q
Isn’t Montessori only for very young children?
No, it is a philosophy of learning that is important for children through their formative years. Right now, we offer our services to children from 8 weeks through the age of 14 or middle school, but hope to add on a high school eventually. Montessori programs for children up to age 18 are now in existence in other cities, and our long term goals include expanding to include these crucial years.
Q
What is the Montessori method?
Montessori is a philosophy and method of education which emphasizes the potential of the young child and which develops this potential by utilizing specially trained teachers and special teaching materials. The Montessori Method stresses that children learn and progress at their own pace so that fast learners are not held back, and slow learners are not frustrated by their inability to keep up.
Q
What do we want most for our children?
We hope that they will develop a positive self-image and be well adjusted to their world. Those of us who have placed our children in Montessori environments realize that this unique approach fosters these qualities. We value the warmth, the respect, and the guidance they receive. Our children's faces reflect a joy of learning, an attention to the task at hand, a pride in independent accomplishment, and a contentment that comes from the fulfillment of their needs. As a parent, you may value this environment without understanding how or why it works. With a basic understanding of the Montessori philosophy and specific suggestions for it's application, you might choose to extend the Montessori environment into your home. You can learn to problem-solve daily hassles by modifying the environment, to give your child lessons will aid him/her in self-sufficiency, and to observe your child in a way that will enable you to understand his/her needs and motives. These are skills that can enhance your relationship with your child, provide a consistency between home and school, and make Montessori a way of life in your home.
Q
Does OPMS offer extracurricular activities?
A variety of activities are offered throughout the year based on the interests of our students. We are currently offering Spanish, yoga, ballet, and horseback riding lesson.
Q
Are Montessori schools religious schools?
While some religious schools use the Montessori method, most Montessori schools are not religious schools. OPMS is not affiliated with any church or religious organization and is a diverse and inclusive school.
Q
How does it differ from other schools?
Traditional schools are based on the "factory" model. Children are told what to do, when to do it, and all are expected to produce results within a narrow range of acceptability to earn a good grade. The Montessori philosophy is the result of endless hours of observation and study on the best ways of learning for a child at the appropriate time. Therefore the environment is very different from a traditional school. To better understand, you may wish to visit and observe a Montessori environment, and you may arrange to do so by calling our office.
Q
What is the student/teacher ratio?
OPMS stays well within state requirements for student to teacher ratio, but during learning time, the ratio is even better for each student, because it is 1:1. The Montessori teacher teaches each child individually rather than lecturing to all the children as a large group. This allows the child the full attention of the teacher and gives the teacher a firsthand knowledge of the progress of each child, rather than waiting for a test to reveal that a child has not grasped a crucial lesson. A non-teaching aide oversees the other children who are working quietly at their lessons, while the Montessori teacher works with each child individually.
Q
What kind of testing do you to in order to make sure my child is learning?
We have instituted taking standardized tests for the 3rd-6th year elementary students. We do not place a great deal of emphasis on these tests as a reliable measure of the students progress, but we feel our students should become acclimated with the focus and discipline it takes to complete such a test. Many studies have revealed that standardized tests are notoriously inaccurate, misleading and stressful for children. After working with the same children for three years, we feel our teachers come to know far more about their student’s progress than can be revealed on any paper or pencil test. Of course, throughout the year, all elementary students take weekly spelling/vocabulary tests, timed math tests, as well as verbal quizzing on a daily basis from the teacher. These tests are private and will remain at school in your child’s academic file. Students of all ages can be at varied levels. We encourage parents to discourage academic competition. Reinforce all students to be proud at doing their best.
Q
Is there any scientific evidence that the Montessori method is effective?
In 2006 the journal "Science" published a study which stated that Montessori students performed better in not only traditional academic areas such as language and mathematical reasoning as well as social cognition skills. -- "On several dimensions, children at a public inner city Montessori school had superior outcomes relative to a sample of Montessori applicants who, because of a random lottery, attended other schools. By the end of kindergarten, the Montessori children performed better on standardized tests of reading and math, engaged in positive interaction on the playground more, and showed advanced social cognition and executive control more. They also showed more concern for fairness and justice. At the end of elementary school, Montessori children wrote more creative essays with more complex sentence structures, selected more positive responses to social dilemmas, and reported feeling more of a sense of community at their school." -- The authors concluded that, "when strictly implemented, Montessori education fosters social and academic skills that are equal or superior to those fostered by a pool of other types of schools." Lillard A, Else-Quest N. "The early years. Evaluating Montessori education." Science. 2006 Sep 29; 313 (5795): 1893-4.
Q
How can a Montessori environment be created and maintained at home?
With the child's need for independence in mind, furnishings and materials to care for himself and the environment should be within his reach and designed for his use. While it might be faster and easier to feed, wash and dress a child, the time and patience expended to teach self-sufficiency is a greater service. Lessons given to the child should break down the task into manageable steps and use minimal language. They should be patiently repeated until the skill is mastered. page7_3 The prepared environment should permeate the general living area of the family. It should be apparent that a child lives there. Space should be structured so that the child's activities are not restricted to isolated areas such as the bedroom or the 'playroom'. The environment should be filled with things that beckon the child to enjoy and participate, that engage his attention and focus, his concentration, while strengthening his intellect. Materials that engage the child briefly or temporarily should be removed since they create clutter and confusion to the child choosing the activity. There should be a definite place for all of the materials used by the child, a structure that invites the child to maintain order. In general, the environment should reflect respect and awareness of the child's perspective and needs; a space designed for individual children. The parent gains insights into the child's individuality, needs, and point of development through observation. This observation must be on going since development is a dynamic process. Therefore, aspects of the environment need to be changeable and evolving with the child and the parent's understanding of the child.