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Q: What is the difference between traditional and Montessori education?

A: There are several significant differences. First, in a traditional Dewey classroom, children are arranged towards set teacher-directed activities. In a Montessori classroom children are free to choose the work they desire with guidance from the teacher. Children learn at their own pace. Second, in traditional classrooms children are separated into classes by age. In a Montessori classroom children are in a mixed-age group that spans three years, encouraging interaction between children of different ages. Third, in a traditional classroom children are often expected to understand concepts by rote memorization. Materials in a Montessori classroom are self-correcting; children learn in a "hands-on" and concrete way. Finally, freedom of movement is encouraged in a Montessori classroom.

Q: We speak a different language at home than at the preschool. How will this influence my child's ability to progress in the classroom?

A: Children learn languages simultaneously. The track for English grows independently and develops with other language tracks the child is exposed to in its home environment. Children exposed to several working languages do not mix them. They develop dominant and second language fluency at the same time.

Q: How does socialization take place in the classroom if materials are set up for individual use and lessons are given individually?

A: When children are gathered together and provided with purposeful activities they interact. This is not only natural; it is necessary for children to learn how to get along with others and how to share and cooperate. Children socialize while working on individual activities or when working together on the same project. Sometimes this takes the form of a presentation given by one child to the other.

Q: Is it true that children are free to do whatever they want in a Montessori classroom?

A: Children make their own choice of activity throughout the day but within a carefully prepared environment. Independence is encouraged because it teaches decision-making skills and self-confidence. The teacher is there to observe and give new presentations to children when they show signs of preparedness. The teacher follows the lead of the child and guides it towards more difficult levels of work.

Q: Can I practice Montessori at home with my child?

A: Parents can make the home environment more compatible with Montessori learning. For example, toys can be stored in individual containers and placed on low shelves within easy reach for the child. Items for care of the person and care of the environment can be made available for the child's use. Parents can stress the sounds of the phonetic letters rather than their names. There are a host of family activities which complement the child's work in the classroom. It is not recommended to duplicate the classroom at home or to teach the child activities it is expected to learn at preschool. 

Q: What is your discipline policy?

A: "To educate to peace" is an important part of Dr. Montessori's philosophy. It is at the heart of classroom dynamics and something we experience with the children on a daily basis. Conflict resolution among children is a process that engages all parties involved. Children discuss what happened, how it made each of them feel, and what they can do the next time to avoid or resolve their disagreement. Ending with a handshake or a hug is usually enough to send the children off on their next adventure together.

Q: What happens after my child leaves Montessori?

A: Montessori children usually adapt very well to new school situations. They are independent problem-solvers who make decisions easily and adapt to new situations with confidence. They work well in groups and by themselves with self-esteem that leads to success in future endeavors.

Q: How can the child benefit itself and others in its everyday experience?

A: The gift of childhood is two-fold: the child's discovery of its innermost self and its reception throughout its formative years by family, friends, and the greater community. A child should never experience isolation: at the heart of its being is the self in relation to people and the environment it grows up in.