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Frequently Asked Question

If children work at their own pace, don’t they fall behind?
Although students are free to work at their own pace, they’re not going at it alone. The directress closely observes each child and provides materials and activities that advance his/her learning by building on skills and knowledge already gained. This gentle guidance helps him/her master the challenge at hand—and protects him/her from moving on before he’s/she's ready, which is what actually causes children to “fall behind.”
Why do Montessori classrooms not have rows of desks like regular classrooms? Where does the directress stand?
The clearly designated areas and arrangement of a Montessori classroom are so designed to keep in line with the natural learning principles inculcated by Dr. Maria Montessori. Rather than putting the directress at the focal point of the class, with children depending on her for information, the Montessori classroom literally provides a child-centered approach. Children work at tables or on floor mats where they can spread out their materials, and the directress goes around the room, giving lessons or helping resolve issues as they arise. The tables and floor mats also serve as clearly defined workspaces which help the children concentrate on their own work, provide protection for the materials and the children, and prevent infringement on other's workspaces.
How will the school let me know of my child’s progress or areas of concern?
The directress , through extensive observation and record-keeping, plans individual projects to enable each child to learn what he/she needs in order to improve. There are no grades, or other forms of reward or punishment. The test of whether or not the system is working lies in the accomplishment and behaviour of the children, their happiness, maturity, kindness, and love of learning and level of work. Meetings will be scheduled with parents at periodic intervals to keep them informed of the child’s progress and suggestions are provided to the parents to help the child help himself/herself and apply what he/she has learnt in the classroom outside of school.
Why are there no ranks/grades in Montessori education? Is Montessori opposed to competition?
The current convention of grading children is mostly based on their ability to replicate text book material in examinations and does not offer a true measure of their understanding and ability to apply concepts learnt. In the Montessori system the child gets to observe and collaborate with his/her peers, work at his/her own pace and work repeatedly with the material till he/she develops a complete understanding of the concept the material presents. By current convention a “fail” grade or mark stamps the child with the label of incompetency and can severely demotivate him/her from trying any further (not to mention the additional stress of other social repercussions). In the absence of such grading, the Montessori system encourages the child to willingly make repeated attempts at mastering the material offering him/her ample space to make mistakes and accept that mistakes are an essential component of successful learning. Before long, they realize that few things in life come without effort, and they are free to try again without any fear or embarrassment.By assigning ranks within classes, schools challenge children to outdo one another. The unnecessary stress of the relative performance within the class impedes the child’s deep learning and goes against
his/her natural pace of development. This is not to say that the Montessori system discourages competition. It in fact develops a healthy competitive spirit where the children learn to give their best irrespective of the outcome by giving them the opportunity to focus completely on the process rather than the result.
What is the advantage of having a mixed-age classroom?
Montessori classes are organized to encompass a three-year age span, which allows younger students the stimulation of older children and learn from them. The older children benefit by being role models and leaders of the classroom community. Children normally stay in the same class for three years. With two-thirds of the class normally returning each year, the classroom culture tends to remain quite stable. Instead of graduating and moving to a new class each year, working in the same environment for three years allows students to develop a strong sense of community with their classmates and directress.