If Montessori education is so great then why do the majority of schools stop at 12 years of age?

Actually the majority of Montessori schools end at age 4 or 5 since the majority of Montessori schools are pre-schools. But most of the others stop at either 9 or 12.


Montessori philosophy states that as children mature so does their brain. As their brain matures, it acquires and processes information differently. Our classrooms are set up to reflect these different methods of acquiring and processing knowledge.

Pre-school classrooms (3 – 6 year olds) – are set up so that children can
“organize their environment’” (I call this the “what?’” stage, “What is this?”
“What is that?” )

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Are Montessori schools relevant in today’s society?

Much more so than people realize. One would be hard pressed to find a pre-school that doesn’t have child sized materials for their students. Montessori was the first to do that, along with teaching young children to do things for themselves.

As far as relevance in elementary education, over the past few years billions of dollars have been spent to assure that teachers know inside and out the most recent scientifically based research on education that there is.

Why? Because it is the firm belief of Margaret Spellings, the US Secretary of Education, that teachers have this knowledge. She rightfully believes that it will improve our classroom management, curriculum development, and implementation of subject material.

What does the latest scientifically based educational research support?

-. (adapting the instruction to the level and needs of each individual student.)

FLEXIBLE GROUPINGS – organizing instructional groups according to the level of instruction that each child needs, but the groups aren’t static. As information is mastered, the children are moved to another more appropriate group.

MULTI-MODALITY INSTRUCTION – teaching the concept in many different ways

– integrating science, history, social studies, and geography into the core curriculum.

ASESSMENTS – constantly assessing the mastery and academic needs of the students

DIRECT INSTRUCTION – isolating a concept and directly teaching it

– bringing the actual thing or a close facsimile of what you are teaching about into the classroom

All different terms for the precepts of the Montessori Philosophy.

I understand that Montessori does not typically give homework. Does a child who attends a Montessori elementary school have problems in High School with homework?

To be honest, I use to not give homework. It was in accordance with the Montessori philosophy of work being on each child’s specific level. I refused to give out busy work and just couldn’t figure out how to differentiate homework assignments for 20 children without spending hours upon hours each evening after school setting them up. I also felt that since my students were working so hard during the school day, and many had a series of after school activities, they didn’t need extra work to worry about.

But than I heard from many of my former students and their parents that the hardest transition they had to make when entering a traditional classroom was homework. I felt badly.

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No textbooks, no grades! Someone explain this to me because it does not make any sense!

Montessorians see text books as limiting. “It is the third day of the fourth month so everybody turn to page 64.” Instead we believe in giving children the information they need in a multitude of ways. We teach them the concepts through manipulating objects, color, movement, matching, comparing, researching and so on.

Additionally we feel that simply going to a text book for information doesn’t teach a child how to learn. When they are older and have a question, but aren’t in a classroom setting, children who are taught to rely on textbooks won’t know how or where to get the answer. But a child who is taught to use the library, the internet, newspapers, as well as to gather information from their surroundings, use prior knowledge, analyze and extrapolate will.

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What Are the pros and cons of a multi-age Classroom?

When multi-age education is done correctly it is a joy. To begin with, older children help younger ones. The competent older children can reinforce their understanding of the content material while the younger ones have it taught to them in different ways. Sometimes another child can word a concept in a way that an adult can’t, facilitating better understanding for both children involved.

Multi-age classrooms also allow children to excel. With higher level materials on hand, and an infrastructure already in place to differentiate the instruction, higher functioning students can work past the prescribed curriculum.

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How do Montessori children do in college and the work environment?

This is a very important question. Many educational programs and philosophies have purported to help children but after extensive research this have been proven not to be the case.

Montessori education has been at the forefront of these studies and has been studied extensively over the past few years.All the research states that on the average, children in a true Montessori environment do as well as or better on standardized tests than children in a more traditional environment. On things that aren’t tested, like science, history, social interactions, they almost always score better.

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How do most children adjust to a traditional school after being in a Montessori school?

Whenever I hear this question I think about a scene in the movie Mean Girls. Kady, the movie’s protagonist, has been home-schooled in Africa by her anthropologist parents. Her first ‘real’ school is a public high school.

At first she is shocked and confused by the rules of the school. As she says in a voice over,”Never before had I lived in a world where adults didn’t trust me. I got in trouble for the most random things.” Then she is seen getting up to sharpen her pencil or to go to the bathroom and teachers being dismayed with her.

Being a Montessori teacher in a public program that only goes to 3rd grade I often hear from the 4th grade traditional education teachers and former students about the problems they face when they leave Montessori. I listen very carefully and over the years have realized that they pretty much fit into three different categories:

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What if the child just doesn’t want to work? Since Montessori is not based on punishments and rewards, how is this issue dealt with?

You will receive different answers from different Montessori teachers predominantly depending on their backgrounds and where they are teaching.

AMI Montessorians, especially those that come from a preschool environment and have followed their students to the elementary level will be the ones who adhere to the belief that all materials and concepts should be “self-chosen” most tenaciously. This is because IT WAS a preschool belief. If you think about it, during Dr. Montessori’s time children entering kindergarten weren’t expected to know things like continents, landforms and cultures. Until recently they weren’t expected to be reading or counting either. So anything they learned in preschool was “icing on the cake”. This gave the preschool teacher a lot of leeway. Children at that time could follow their natural desires and interests without any so called “adverse effects” on their education. Of course things are different now, and children in public Montessori pre-schools have the same standards as those in traditional public pre-schools.

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I’ve been told that Montessori is “unstructured”. Is this true?

How do the children learn in such an environment? How does a teacher know that every child is learning if every child isn’t doing the exact thing at the exact same time?

There is a lot of structure in a Montessori classroom!

It’s just a different type of structure than in the traditional classroom. In many traditional classrooms since all the children do pretty much the same thing at the same time, the “structure” is in keeping them focused and quiet.

In a Montessori classroom where the children are all working at their “maximum plane of development” and therefore doing different things, the “structure” revolves around rules and procedures so that they can all be doing those different things, but still learn.

For example, since most of the work is initially done with manipulatives, a “structure” needs to be in place as to how to share the materials, work with them, and put them away.

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Can you summarize the Montessori Philosophy in one sentence?

A sentence using the latest educational catch phrases:

Montessori education is scientifically based, multi-modality, data-driven differentiated instruction using small flexible groupings for explicit instruction and individualized practiced during an extended global access time to insure that each student is working at their maximum plane of development while addressing the state’s mandatory standards.’

A sentence using everyday terms:

Montessori education is based on the belief that children are individuals with their own strengths, needs, likes and learning styles, therefore the teacher needs to guide each child through the learning process by using materials that fit their specific needs and pace.

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