Montessori: questions and answers from ece 205 participants

1. What happens when the children are more advanced and have gone through all the stages? (Johnson, Jelinski, Hamilton)
The Montessori teacher, through clinical observation, is expected to continuously be adapting the child's learning environment to meet his/her developmental needs. It is through this extensive observation and record keeping, that the Montessori teacher plans individual projects to enable each child to learn what he/she needs in order to improve and expand their knowledge in particular subject areas.

2.Do children still develop the social skills nessasary for life with all the independant activites the children do?(Brodner, Baker, Baade)
The children do develop their social skills because the montessori schools are controled enviroments to not just nurture independance but also other needs as well. "Building on this natural progression, Dr. Montessori developed a philosophy which embraces the whole child. She found that by placing children in a specially prepared environmentto meet their physical, cognitive and social needs and to satisfy their intrinsic interests, children not only learn but thrive."

3. Is the transition process from a Montessori classroom to a public school classroom difficult in terms of social interaction since these students are used to being independent? In Montessori classrooms, independent work makes up about 80% of the work, while teacher directed lessons make up the remained 20%. The numbers of reversed in traditional classrooms in North America. This independent work gives children the opportunities to form social relationships through free interaction. Students are still socializing, just in student directed rather than teacher directed ways. Montessori students are used to working independent but also work well with their peers to solve conflicts without the help of a teacher. The transition to public school classrooms is difficult not because the students lack social skills, but because they use their social skills differently than public school children. Like all situations, it takes time to adjust to a new classroom and new set of rules, but this does not mean Montessori children lack social interaction. (B. Wagner, E. Toppings, S. Ramer, C. McLean)

4. Does Montessori incorporate special needs students? When Maria Montessori was first forming her ideas and plans she was actually working with "defective" or special needs children. After she had successfully implemented her ideas with special needs children, she then decided to try her approach with normally developing children. So actually Montessori designed her approach for special needs children in the beginning. Today, there are some Montessori schools (or classrooms) that are geared for special needs children. However, any Montessori school should be willing and able to accept and student.Due to the nature of the Montessori approach inclusion for all is possible. The emphasis on repetition, organized work patterns and a variety of ages in the classroom are just a few aspects of the Montessori approach that facilitates optimal learning for all students but especially those with a disability. (Heinrichs, LeBlanc, MacGregor)

5. How does a montessori teacher fund the resources required within a classroom for their program? (K. Oak, C. Oyka, J. Matheson)
Montessori schools are usually private and funding usually comes from the tuition paid by parents and donations from wealthy private sectors. http://sitemaker.umich.edu/pan.356/funding_and_its_effects

6. How do students in a Montessori classroom develop social skills and the ability to work well with others if the focus of these schools is independent learning? (Bonick, Frick, Brubacher-Hines) The freedom to move about the classroom helps children develop social skills, including sharing materials and working together with other students to achieve results. As well, because Montessori strongly believed that children learn as much by helping others as by being helped themselves, classrooms feature a mixture of three ages. Younger children observe and ask for help from older students in the classroom, and the older students have the opportunity to mentor and teach the younger ones. These experiences not only enhance academic learning but also strengthen understanding, mutual respect and leadership skills of allt the children (http://claremontmontessorischool.com/about.htm).
On a forum based website, someone asked for thoughts regarding a Montessori preschool vs. a play-based preschool. The comments she received from mothers of children in Montessori preschools include:
a. "Socially, I think Montessori is better than a play-based preschool. Kids are able to socialize (at a reasonable volume) the whole time they're there, not just during recess. There is a wider range of kids to socialize with, which I think is healthier, too. My 3 1/2 year old dd likes to play with the big boys. My older dd was trained (by the other girls) at her play-based preschool to only play with girls (even though on her own, she prefers the boyish toys). I think all the gender-based toys really encourage kids to segregate themselves that way. Just a couple weeks into Montessori (where there are no pink playsets or hot wheels), and she's playing with boys again."
b. "In our experience, I would say that the development of his social skills is supported even more so than the development of his intellectual skills. He started off as a 2.5 year old who was super-challenging (due to lots of reasons--age, speech challenges, etc) but his Montessori teachers helped us SO MUCH to teach him to use his words, how to ask for help, how to ask for something from a friend...they have helped teach him to be respectful of other people's bodies (not hitting, etc) and to be a good friend. They learn to talk things out, in a preschooler kind of way. This is so much of what they learn--how to play nice and fair, how to resolve conflicts, how to "use their words" and work things out, along with grace and courtesy."
c. "I am very happy with the social skills taught in Montessori schools - problem-solving, older children helping younger, high behavioral standards, and children taking care of their own issues with each other using appropriate words." (http://www.mothering.com/discussions/archive/index.php/t-395355.html).

7. How do you keep the child focused for so long as the child progresses into higher grades? (Cody,Kirstin,Renae)
The teacher sets up the environment with many options for the students. Each different age group requires a different enviornment for optimal learning. In the same classroom you could see a 3 year old reading a simple book and a 5 year old doing a complicated math problem. Each child has opportunites to learn using different objects in the classroom. The classroom is set up so that every level of learning can be reached for each individual child. The students are also allowed to move around the room as they please. This gives them the freedom to move to another task if they accomplish or become bored with one. The older the grades the harder the tasks they are given by the teacher.

8. Is there technology used in the Montessori classroom? If not how will that affect a child of this technological era? Some teachers believe that technology in Montessori classroom is what a Montessori classroom should look like in the 21st Century. The program that Montessori developed focuses on the child's experiences and exploration of the world around them. Technology is just another tool for children to explore and develop skills as they grow into the technological world around them.If there is not technology in an Montessori classroom, it could in the long run affect the childs learning as technology is a very important part of today's society. To learn more on integrating technology in the Montessori classroom read an article by Arlene Love and Pat Sikorski . (Covey, Braaten, Dales)

9. How do young children stay self-directed in the Montessori classroom? (Alison W., Jennette, Jerilee)
One underlying premise of the Montessori Method is that each child possesses an inner power that motivates them to seek out specific activities and interactions (Crain, 2004). The purpose of the classroom was to create a “prepared environment” where the student was free to discover and advance his or her unique power while disciplined enough to stay focused on a specific series of tasks. With this progressive approach, learning becomes “a complex process of making sense of new information through reflection and interaction” (Weissglass, 1999, p. 46). http://www.lander.edu/library/files/The_Montessori_Method.pdf
As each student has such significant control over his or her learning, they remain interested in the task they are choosing, otherwise they are free to move on to a new activity. Also, this classroom environment does not restrict students to sitting and idle work; "children are always free to move around the room instead of staying at desks." "There is no limit to how long a child can work with a piece of material. At any one time in a day all subjects -- math, language, science, history, geography, art, music, etc., will be being studied, at all levels" (http://www.montessori.edu/FAQ.html). This approach to learning explains why students are able to remain focused, without an adult controlling their every task.
10. How do kids adapt from switching from a Montessori School to a public school academically? (Todas, Meyer, Scherle)
Many kids can feel as though they are more advanced when they switch from a Montessori school to a public school in Kindergarten. Some parents feel that the curriculum is more tailored to the individual student at a Montessori school rather than a public school. Students from Montessori school's may feel less engaged in classroom activies and they may feel as though the curriculum is geared towards the lower half of the classroom. (http://www.chicagobusiness.com/cgi-bin/article.pl?article_id=32349&seenIt=1)

11.) If the goal of Montessori schooling is to promote independent learning, what is the role of the teacher? (Basler, Anderson, Dudragne)
The main role of the teacher is to be an observer and promote materials, instructional guidance and appropriate encouragement to strengthen problem areas.
The teacher must also create an environment for all students to exhibit independent learning.

12. How are students affected as they move on into highschool or post-secondary education, as these institutions use much different methods than the ones they are used to? (Stocki, Pepper, Puszkar, Schmidt)
According to advocates of the Montessori style of teaching, Montessori children work well in independent as well as social atmospheres, so should be able to adapt well to many social settitngs. A strong support system between the schools, teachers, parents, and students can also help to make the transitions smoother.
It is thought that the methods used in the Montessori schools well prepares the students for whatever they may choose to move onto later in life.
(ccma.ca/montessori/html and montessoriconnections.com: September 27, 2009)

13. Where would the funding for these specialized classrooms come from? Especially when the program requires that the class size remain reasonable? (Alexandra Woiden, Rebecca, Christa)
Because Montessori schools are private and not part of the public system, the students are required to pay tuition. Between tuition fees, and donations the schools are able to provide these specialized tools to each classroom. Similarly to a university students are required to pay an application fee before they are even accepted into the Montessori school.

14. What is the emphasis on in the Montessori Method? (Delorme, Burns, Diacon)
The main emphasis in the Montessori Method is on the WHOLE child. It is the teachers job to adapt the learning enviroment to best meet where the child is at developmentally. The children are given the freedom to learn at their own pace. It is more focused on pre-school and elementary students.

15. Do Montessori schools work for all children? (Jones, Krause, Lundquist)
Although Montessori schools have been successful with children from all socio-economic levels, including children in regular classes as well as the gifted, children with developmental delays, and children with physical and emotional disabilities, there is no one school that is right for all children. This is due to the fact that there are some children who may do better in a smaller classroom
setting with more teacher-directed instruction and programs.
Additionally, Children who are easily overstimulated , or who tend to be overly aggressive might not adapt easily to a Montessori classroom.Most importantly, each child and situation is unique, so it is best to work with the schools within the child's area to find out whether a particular school and child would be a good match.
(http://www.montessori.org/story.php?id=337#IsMontessoriforAllChildren: September 29, 2009)

16. Where does the funding come from for the materials used in Montessori classrooms? (Amy McDonald, Alannah Vermeer, Mark Siemens)

Since Montessori schools are, for the most part, private, the funding comes from tuition payments, donations, and private sectors, (http://sitemaker.umich.edu/pan.356/funding_and_its_effects). Tuition fees start even before the
child is accepted into the school, with applicants having to pay a non-refundable fee simply for applying, (http://www.augsburgpark.com/process.php).

17. Where did the activities generate from? (Janna Mailhot, Joni Mailhot, Chelsea Holmes)

Montessori designed the activities based on observation of children with disabilities, in which she created life skill activities. (Chapter 16, Approaches to Early Childhood Education) After sucessfully developing these children's intellectual development, she began studying the techniques she used and developed ideas for children without disabilities, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montessori_method#cite_note-6). Some of her activites included human learning such as shoe tying, brushing teeth, washing hands, etc. As well as fantasy and role playing activities. (Approaches to Early Childhood
Education)

18. How much group activity is there in the Montessori system and does it allow for social interaction? (Burghardt, Davis,Bashforth)
The Montessori Method is based on individual learning. In the Montessori classroom individual workstations are set up with the materials needed to complete the day’s activities. These workstations are arranged in an "open network" that encourages group discussions about the activities while encouraging independent learning. Students are free to move around the classroom and interact with their classmate. These two aspects allow for the social interactions between the students.(http://www.lander.edu/library/files/The_Montessori_Method.pdf)

19. How do children with special learning needs and children with behavioral issues benefit from Montessori schools? (Amy, Broderick, Flaman)
Maria Montessori had a deep interest in children with special needs. She found that the existing environments were not stimulating enough to develop the children's thinking patterns. She also observed the children and found activities that would help them to find their own independence. She used manipulatives and age appropriate sensory stimulations. This type of instruction empowers students to learn sufficient skills to propel them into success. There are many activities that help to develop hand-eye coordination, concentration and independence. The activities grab the students interest and they don't mind spending long periods of time doing one activity. This is especially beneficial for children with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). To learn more there is a really great article found here.
As the roots of Montessori education are coming from observation and education of handicapped children, it is only very natural that Montessori environment provides these children with great stimulation and support.http://www.casaverams.com/page.php?pg=child


20. Are there any Montessori Schools in Canada? (Matheis, Manson, Mahlum)
Yes, there are five schools in Canada.
Canada
Canada
Kanata Montessori School - Kanata, Canada
Open site in a new window
Open site in a new window
- Non-denominational, co-educational, and independent environment for children 18 months to 12 years of age.
http://ca.dir.yahoo.com/Education/Theory_and_Methods/Montessori_Method/Schools/

There is also a Montessori Pre-School/Kindergarten in Medicine Hat, Alberta. (S. Brown)

21. What are the politcal views of the Montessori Schooling method? (Mann,Lam,Koli)
Efforts have been made to try and establish a Montessori school in the Caribbean. However, the NCLB laws prohibited it, the United States have become a country obsessed with test taking and the force feeding of facts. The Montessori Method, although proven to work even in this situation, is having a harder time being accepted than ever before. [ Information taken from http://www.montessorianswers.com/other-cultures.html ]

22. How much instruction is given to the students by the teacher? (G. Desnoyers, S. Boychuk, N. Gilmour)
The text Life-Span Development, 3rd Canadian Edition by Santrock describes specifically how much instruction the teacher gives the students, and where to give them their freedom. It states that "The teacher shows the child how to perform intellectual activities, demonstrates interesting ways to explore curriculum materials, and offers help when the child requests it" (195).

23. How does working independently in the Montessori school affect a child's social life or ability to make friends when moving to a public school? (Albert, Brown, Gignac)
From a personal persepective, independent instruction prohibits children from socializing properly in a public school. If given an opportunity, the children would rather work alone than with a partner or a group, therefore making them social outcasts. Teachers must actively incorporate group work so that Montessori school children can learn to make friends instead of working alone.

24. How do students grow and learn all types of subjects in a Montessori school when everything is their personal choice? (Vanessa Marshall, Chris Christopher ?, Britt Goodsman)
Learning is provided to the students in creative ways, allowing them to learn without really knowing that they are learning. For example, the counting sticks do not show numbers or things to get confused about but it focuses on simplicity. Because the students can succeed at every station at their own pace and not be put down for going a bit slower than everyone else, they are able to learn everything and are able to like everything they learn. The Montessori style of teaching creates an excitement and independant responsibility for personal learning and growth in our youth.

25. How do you identify a child with an intellectual delay if they move through everything at their own pace? (McGillivray, Wagner, Skibinsky)
Identifying intellectual delays was not discussed explicitly on many websites. Rather the Montessori method was encouraged for use with children who do have intellectual delay, since they can move at their own pace. Since the Montessori method relies highly on observation, the teachers will likely have a great sensitivity to children who have trouble grasping certain concepts.