Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the Montessori approach?
- Is Montessori right for my child?
- How do children learn in a Montessori setting?
- How can I be sure that my child is learning all they can?
- How do parents know what their child is learning?
- What are Montessori learning cycles?
- Will my child transition well to other learning environments?
- What type of enrichment programs are available?
What is the Montessori approach?
Montessori is a unique educational approach that nurtures a child’s natural desire to learn. Montessori focuses on the whole child—their cognitive, social, emotional and physical development. Students learn independence through personal and community responsibility and so develop both self-confidence and social skills. The organizational skills that develop for our students are inherent to learning how to successfully care for oneself, one’s community and one’s environment. These skills establish a lifelong foundation for academic growth and the confidence to embrace challenges. At Bridges Montessori, we have trained Montessori teachers who know how and want to teach children. We love our jobs!
Is Montessori right for my child?
If your child would thrive in an clean, beautiful and organized environment that is focused on kind behavior, is rich in interesting and intellectually stimulating activities, and is filled with teachers who encourage personal independence and growth, then Montessori is right for your child. Montessori education is right for children of any age. Introducing your child to Montessori as early as possible puts them on the right path to becoming a confident, self-motivated learner.
How do children learn in a Montessori setting?
Imagine sitting down to a table with many other very hungry people. Once the meal has started, it may be very quiet as each person digs in. Although not being rude, diners may be busy buttering bread or taking some initial bites. Often there is not much chatter, as everyone is very focused. This is a good analogy for classroom time in a Montessori setting. After morning circle, children move into the classroom eager to pursue individual learning interests or goals. They prepare space for the activity they have selected and gather their materials. They may ask for a lesson from the teacher or the teacher may give them a lesson, individually or as part of a small group.
Students in a Montessori environment learn by exploring and manipulating specially designed learning materials. Each material teaches one concept or skill at a time, and lays a foundation from which students can comprehend increasingly abstract ideas. Children work with materials at their own pace, repeating an exercise until it is mastered. The teacher may gently guide the process, but their goal is to inspire student thought and learning skills rather than to provide specific answers.
Throughout the classroom, beautifully prepared, inviting curriculum areas contain a sequential array of lessons. As students work through the sequence, they build and expand on materials and concepts already mastered. This process helps develop qualities and strong skills with which the child can approach every future learning challenge.
How can I be Sure My Child is Learning All that they Can?
Montessori teachers are trained in human development and are experts at recognizing “sensitive periods” of learning in students. Montessori teachers believe that human beings love to learn and that they want to understand. Montessori teachers closely observe each student’s progress and readiness to move on to new lessons. They may orally question a student about what they have learned, or ask them to revisit their understanding by teaching a lesson to fellow students.
Even when working with very young children, we are not “babysitters”, we are teachers who have chosen to work with these specific age groups. We have the opportunity to teach another human being how to care for themselves by participating fully in the learning process. How wonderful!
How do parents know what their child is learning?
In addition to our introductory programs, such as our Parent & Child classes, our school hosts several opportunities each year to educate parents on school policies, Montessori education and how we communicate with our students. We have a monthly newsletter and an active facebook page. In addition, our school distributes written reports and holds parent/teacher conferences three times a year. We welcome parents to observe their child’s classroom and gladly talk through any questions a parent may have.
What ARE Montessori learning cycles?
The Montessori educational experience provides a child with a broad and solid framework on which to grow and learn. The Montessori curriculum is based on three year cycles. Each year is an individual cycle and each successive year builds on the previous one.
For example, the three-year-old comes into the classroom, watches the older children, works with very concrete materials, learns organizational patterns and routines, solidifies a work cycle and begins to interact within the classroom community. The new student learns to ask for and accept help from not only the teacher but also older peers. The four-year-old returns to the same environment, confident, ready to try new and more abstract activities, soaking up information. He or she begins to work more socially as their skills increase and interactions are successful. The five-year-old enters the classroom for the third year, completely at home and having built a strong foundation for learning and is ready to challenge him or herself academically with advanced materials.
A key role for the older student is that of mentor to others, giving the child the opportunity to process ideas not only as a student, but in a teaching role. Being a five-old-year in a Montessori classroom is a wonderful experience. It is the culmination of a fascinating journey in the child’s exploration of the world, the classroom community and themselves.
This cycle of moving through multi-age groupings continues as the child continues through our 6-9, 9-12, and 12-15 programs, allowing ample opportunities to observe, ask for help, achieve group goals and mentor.
Will my child transition well to other learning environments?
Many children spend only their preschool and Kindergarten years in a Montessori classroom. Others complete the elementary grades before transferring to another—usually traditional—school. A small, but growing group of students stay with Montessori through secondary school.
A child who transfers out of a Montessori school is likely to notice some differences. For example, instead of choosing individually appropriate work to investigate and master, they may have to learn what’s on the teacher’s lesson plan for that day. Instead of moving freely around the classroom, there’s a chance they will sit for learning periods in an assigned seat. Instead of learning in a classroom with a mixed-aged grouping, it’s probable that they will be grouped with others by year. Fortunately, children are adaptable. Poised, organized, self-reliant, and used to working harmoniously as part of a classroom community, students who transition from Montessori learning environments typically adjust quickly to their new school.
What type of enrichment programs are available?
Students are offered a variety of enrichment programs based on their age, interests and development.
Infants and Young Toddlers
For our youngest children, a consistent, peaceful environment is key. The teachers work hard to create stimulating spaces that will meet child development needs. The continuity of staffing and the comfort of well-maintained spaces are what is best for the children participating in our Infant/Toddler programs.
School Aged Children
Children in our Transitional (2-3 years of age), Traditional (3-6 years of age) and Upper School (6-9, 9-12, and 12-15 years of age) programs participate in school-wide social outreach drives including collecting non-perishable food items, baby gifts and aid for animal shelters. The Social Outreach Drives are designed so that the individual student can have meaningful participation at the level they are able and the school community as a whole is accomplishing regular service work.
Students at the Traditional and Upper School levels have regularly scheduled enrichment classes that include Creative Movement, Art and Yoga, depending on the level and afternoon program. A variety of after school clubs are also offered.
That being said, we are first and foremost a Montessori educational program. In general, our student's families provide much to their children in the way of travel, sport and cultural exposure. Our method of education requires time, focus and consistency to be done well. This is our priority. We work hard to keep our environments peaceful, giving the students the time they need to move through complete learning processes. Our students are engaged, interested and motivated to learn and progress. They are not waiting to get through the academic portion of the day to "do something fun".... they are already doing something fun... learning!