Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between Montessori and traditional education? Children in Montessori classes learn at their own, individual pace and according to their own choice of activities from numerous possibilities. Learning is an exciting process of discovery, leading to concentration, motivation, self-discipline and a natural love of learning. Montessori classes place children in three-year age groups (3-6, 6-9, 9-12, and so on), forming communities in which the older children spontaneously share their knowledge with the younger ones. Montessori represents an entirely different approach to education.
Is Montessori good for children with unique needs or abilities? Montessori is designed to help all children reach their fullest potential at their own unique pace. A classroom where children have varying abilities is a community in which everyone learns from one another and everyone contributes. Moreover, multiage grouping allows each child to find his or her own pace without feeling "ahead" or "behind" in relation to peers.
What ages does Montessori serve? While there are many early childhood Montessori programs for children up to age 6, Montessori is not limited to this age group. Across the US there are many Montessori schools serving elementary (ages 6-12), adolescent (ages 12-15) and even high school (ages 15-18) children.
Are Montessori children successful later in life? Research studies show that Montessori children are well prepared for adult life academically, socially, and emotionally. In addition to scoring well on standardized tests, Montessori children are ranked above average on such criteria as following directions, turning in work on time, listening attentively, using basic skills, showing responsibility, asking provocative questions, showing enthusiasm for learning, negotiating social interactions and adapting to new situations. Here’s a Wall Street Journal article about business leaders who attended Montessori schools, including the founders of Google, Amazon and Wikipedia.
What special training do Montessori teachers have? The two major organizations offering Montessori training in the United States are the American Montessori Society (AMS) and the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI, with a U.S. branch office called AMI-USA). Most training centers require a bachelor's degree for admission. Training ranges from 200 to 600 pre-service contact hours and covers principles of child development and Montessori philosophy as well as specific uses of the Montessori classroom materials. Montessori training centers can be found across North America and around the world. Bozeman Summit School is a full member of the American Montessori Society, the foremost advocate for quality Montessori education.
What is the best way to choose a Montessori school for my child? Ask if the school is affiliated with any Montessori organization. Ask what kind of training the teachers have. Visit the school, observe the classroom in action, and later ask the teacher or Head of School to explain the theory behind the activities you saw, as well as their philosophy of child development and education to see if it is compatible with your own.
How many Montessori schools are there? There are an estimated 4,000 certified Montessori schools in the United States and about 7,000 worldwide.
Are Montessori schools religious? Some Montessori schools have a religious affiliation, but most do not. Bozeman Summit School is not affiliated with any religious association.
If my child is left to choose his/her own activities, will he/she tend to do the same thing every day or simply do nothing? No. The teachers are trained to observe the children’s activities. When a child has mastered a skill, the teacher will give the child a new lesson that is more challenging, considering the age and interest of each child. Because the environment is so stimulating and exciting, children seldom “do nothing.” The teachers guide the children to ensure a balance of language, math and cultural (history, geography, science, art, biology) work.
How do children transition from Montessori to traditional schools? It has been our experience, and the experience of virtually all Montessori schools, that the transition is very smooth. The brief adjustment period is no more than the adjustment that occurs when transferring from one traditional to another traditional school. Montessori alumni typically score well on the standardized tests and consistently show enhanced ability for following directions, independent thinking, and adapting to new situations. Teachers often comment on the leadership abilities of a child that comes to them via a Montessori program, as well as their overall depth of knowledge.
What is a typical day like in the Elementary class? The day flows with as few interruptions to your child as possible. There is an uninterrupted independent work period in the morning, followed by a group circle, and playground time. In the afternoon the students eat lunch, continue their work, have more small and large group lessons and attend special classes (i.e. Health Enhancement, Music, Spanish, etc.).
What is the desired size of a Montessori classroom? A Montessori class for the Elementary age is fairly large, typically around 20-30. Since it is a mixed-age class with ages between 6 and 9 years or 9 and 12 years, a large classroom provides a better mix of different ages and sufficient numbers of the same age. This allows effective interactions between the children of the same age as well as different age groups. An older child helping a younger one is pivotal to the success of a Montessori classroom. This classroom size does not pose a challenge for the teachers since the carefully planned environment allows children to function independently with minimal help from the teachers.
What is the student to teacher ratio? Our elementary classes are staffed with at least one AMS trained teacher, as well as an assistant teacher. The student/teacher ratio is approximately 12/1.
How does the teacher keep track of the progress of students who are working independently? The Montessori method of education is designed to support different learning styles, helping students learn to work and study in a way that is effective for them. Students progress as they master new skills, building on their prior experiences and moving ahead when they are ready. The children move through a logical progression from the initial lesson, to repetition with help or input from the teacher, to independence and mastery. The teacher keeps records of where each child is in this process, looking for signs of mastery and readiness to proceed. An inventory of the lessons and projects completed by each student is reviewed frequently.
In a multi-age class, will my eight-year-old spend the year taking care of younger children instead of doing his or her own work? The older children in a Montessori class often help the younger children with their work, solidifying their understanding of the lesson. Anyone who has ever had to teach a skill to someone else knows that the process of explaining a new concept or helping someone practice a new skill leads the teacher to learn as much, if not more, than the pupil. This is supported by research. The act of teaching other children also develops leadership skills and confidence. However, older children spend the majority of their time on their own work.