Frequently Asked Questions 

1 Montessori is a pre-school system, isn’t it?

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.

2 Aren’t Montessori children free to do whatever they want in the classroom?

How do you ensure each one gets a fully rounded education?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 his/her appropriate pace in all subjects.

3 Montessori classrooms look so different…. Where are the students’ desks? Where do teachers stand?

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/him 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.

4 Are Montessori schools as academically rigorous as traditional schools?

Yes; Montessori classrooms encourage deep learning of the concepts behind academic skills rather than rote practice of abstract techniques. Our students compete successfully with traditionally educated students in a variety of high schools and universities.

5 Without objective measurements like grades, how do you assess a Montessori child’s performance?

Parents of children at all levels at Children’s House Montessori School meet once a year in conference with their children’s teachers to learn more about classroom work and behavior. Classroom teachers keep records of lessons given and work practiced and also offer the benefit of their individualized observations of the child’s work in the classroom.

In addition, each year our students in grades 3-8 complete the Stanford 10 a standardized test scored against a norm group of students from other schools nationwide. Middle school students work in textbooks as well as with hands on materials and do receive grades in preparation for the high school experience.

6 Is it true Montessori schools have no textbooks and no homework?

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 elementary years, textbooks may be used. Students tend to do their own research rather than relying on a class textbook’s descriptions.

 Homework is always relevant. Primary children may bring home a reading book to share, elementary students practice spelling words and math facts and may work on projects and reports.

7 Since Montessori classrooms emphasize non-competitiveness, how are students adequately prepared for real-life competition later on?

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 may participate in competitive activities giving 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.

8 How do Montessori graduates fare in the real world, where they do not always set the agenda?

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.

9 Are there any independent studies comparing traditional and Montessori schools?

Yes; see our “Montessori Resources” page for extracts from and links to some of the latest publications.

10 Have your own question about Montessori?

Email us or schedule a visit to Children’s House Montessori School.

Content courtesy of John Long from The Post Oak School in Houston Texas.