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Frequently asked questions
about the Montessori method

The number of Montessori schools in the U.S. is growing, and key Montessori ideas are being integrated into many public schools and universities. Along with growing interest and acceptance, there are questions and even some misconceptions. Here are some of the queries we hear most often. See also FAQ about admission and FAQ about The Post Oak School.

 

 

Montessori schools may be best known for their programs with young children, but the underlying educational method describes programs for students up through high school.

 

Montessori children are free to choose within limits, and have only as much freedom as they can handle with appropriate responsibility. The classroom teacher and assistant ensure that children do not interfere with each other, and that each child is progressing at her appropriate pace in all subjects.

 

The different arrangement of a Montessori classroom mirrors the Montessori method’s differences from traditional education. Rather than putting the teacher at the focal point of the class, with children dependent on her for information and activity, the classroom shows a literally child-centered approach. Children work at tables or on floor mats where they can spread out their materials, and the teacher circulates about the room, giving lessons or resolving issues as they arise.


Yes; Montessori classrooms encourage deep learning of the concepts behind academic skills rather than rote practice of abstract techniques. The success of our students appears in the experiences of our alumni, who compete successfully with traditionally educated students in a variety of universities.


Parents of children at all levels at The Post Oak School meet at least twice a year in conference with their children’s teachers to learn more about classroom work and behavior. Classroom teachers keep extensive records of lessons given and work practiced, using the Montessori Records Xpress software (which The Post Oak School has helped to develop), and also offer the benefit of their individualized observations of the child’s work in the classroom.


Montessori education is experiential and hands-on; children work with specially designed materials in the classroom before learning abstract pencil-and-paper methods. As students grow into the Upper Elementary and Middle School years, written resources make more and more appearances, though usually in the form of novels or reference books. Students tend to do their own research rather than relying on a class textbook’s descriptions.

Homework shows a similar progression, from none at the Primary ages, slowly increasing as student ability and maturity warrant. By Middle School, students are expected to devote an average of two hours every evening to homework.

In High School, students’ work continues to be matched to their developmental level and contextualized to align with their active, daily learning. Work that extends beyond a lesson is designed to cultivate interests and develop deep passions for learning that will last a lifetime. Student work depends on practice toward mastery and approaches for ongoing critical thought and questioning. While student work is mostly focused on primary sources, at times textbooks support that work. Students prepare for ongoing demonstrations of their learning via oral presentations, written papers, tests, and other types of formative assessment.


Montessori classrooms emphasize competition with oneself: self-monitoring, self-correction, and a variety of other executive skills aimed at continuous improvement. Students typically become comfortable with their strengths and learn how to address their weaknesses. In older classes, students commonly participate in competitive activities with clear “winners” (auditions for roles in classroom performances, the annual spelling bee, etc.) in which students give their best performances while simultaneously encouraging peers to do the same. It is a healthy competition in which all contenders are content that they did their best in an environment with clear and consistent rules.


Yes; students learn a variety of sports through regular P.F. (physical fitness) classes, and have the opportunity to play in after-school sports through our Bearkats athletic teams.


Increasingly, the world of modern education and business favors creative thinkers who combine personal initiative with strong collaborative skills: exactly the characteristics which Montessori education nurtures. Cultural movers and shakers from Julia Child to the founders of Google have spoken of how their childhood experiences in Montessori gave them not only the ability to work cooperatively in existing settings, but also the skills of confidence, creativity, and communication needed to make innovative and ground-breaking changes.


Yes; see our "Research and Resources" page for extracts from and links to some of the latest publications.

 

Have your own question about Montessori? Email us, or schedule a visit to The Post Oak School.