1. When should my child start Montessori education?
Children as young as 16 months are ready to begin their Montessori journey. Each stage of learning is fostered in each formative year; therefore we strongly recommend that children start Montessori education in their toddler years before entering Pre-Nursery.
2. What is the difference between a Montessori playgroup and other playgroups?
Many toddler playgroups are simply an opportunity for young children to explore a new environment and engage with peers and teachers. Our Montessori playgroups offer these same benefits, but in a classroom environment where the framework for subsequent independent learning is laid. Most children are capable of more than adults expect, and we encourage caregivers to guide their child to develop their skills, interest, and independence through hands-on learning while respecting their individuality and autonomy.
3. Is 16 months too young for a structured playgroup?
A child is able to absorb and process more during the first years of life than at any other time. Exposure to a range of learning experiences has been proven to provide lasting benefits for the child’s cognitive, motor, and social development. For parents who are interested in the Montessori method for Pre-Nursery or Kindergarten, we highly recommend enrolling in our playgroups to start with, as it also gives parents a chance to experience the Montessori classroom environment.
4. Do you offer trial classes?
We do not offer trial classes, as students need more than a lesson or two to realize the benefits of the Montessori teaching method. However, we encourage parents to contact us about visiting our campus outside of class hours and learning more about our programs.
5. When is the earliest I can submit an application?
As spaces in our playgroups are limited to 12 and filled on a first-come, first-served basis, we welcome parents to apply at any time in order to reserve a spot in one of our programs. You may note your intended start date (please see the age guidelines for each program) and we will issue a placement confirmation pending space availability.
6. What’s next after the Toddler Program?
Our N1 and TOM students develop essential skills and concentration while gradually becoming more independent of caregivers. The Pre-Nursery Stepping Stone class is designed to further promote the child’s growing independence as they practice gradual separation from caregivers, an increased duration of activity time and more complex work, all of this to prepare them for the next step in their Montessori journey: attending Pre-Casa (2-3 years old) independently!
7. Can we start the toddler program even if my child is not talking yet?
Yes! Children begin speaking on their own timetable, and providing as many learning opportunities as possible during the early years has been proven to have a lasting impact on children’s language development and vocabulary. Your child need not be speaking yet to absorb the language and communication cues around them, especially when they are exposed to multiple languages at home and/or at school!
8. Since children are allowed to choose what they want to do, what happens if they want to do nothing?
Children are born curious so there is no such thing as “doing nothing” at this age. Even children who appear to be disengaged are actually sensorially and subconsciously absorbing the language, culture, social skills, and much more from the world around them. If the child persists in walking around the classroom without choosing an activity, the Montessori teacher will gently recommend an activity or invite them to participate in a group activity. In general, inactivity does not last long, and during this period children also learn how to make good use of their activity time, which strengthens their ability to work independently.
9. Montessori and Pretend Play
Montessori is playful learning. While one may not see dolls, a toy kitchen, or particular emphasis on pretend play, Montessori students engage in activities that fit the definition of play, as the spirit of play is very much present.
When children play, they are practicing, experimenting, and discovering. A child playing with a toy will turn it this way and that, make it go here and there, do the same action over and over, then try something completely different just to see what will happen.
When a child works with a Montessori material, for example, the pink tower, after stacking the tower as her teacher has shown her, she is free to experiment and explore with the cubes for different configurations and variations. She can line them up horizontally; make 2 towers, place the smallest cube on the bottom and try to build the tower, just to see if the cubes fall. In all of this, the child discovers cause and effect, relationships in dimension, and the concepts of balance and gravity.
Children often use pretend play because they want to be part of the adult world. They want to use cooking utensils, help in the kitchen, sweep the floors, and wash and fold clothes. In a Montessori classroom, instead of mimicking adult activities through play, children are given opportunities to actually do them. The children will actually bake snacks and treats to enjoy with their classmates, take care of plants, arrange flowers, set the tables for lunch, and a huge range of other real-life tasks. They satisfaction they gain from even small independent achievements motivates their further learnings, and there is no need to pretend when they can do the real thing.
10. If children work at their own pace, do they fall behind?
Because children’s abilities and interests are different, if they work freely according to their own preferences and rhythm, they will develop their love of learning, as well as their confidence and skills in a range of areas. When a child needs more time to master a skill, the teacher will carefully observe their learning needs and will encourage them to repeat the task many times until they have mastered the skills involved. Once the child has gained mastery of a skill, they build on the knowledge they have acquired and will naturally move on to more challenging work.
11. How are students assessed?
Grades, like other external rewards, have little lasting effect on a child’s efforts or achievements. The Montessori approach nurtures the motivation that comes from within, kindling the child’s natural desire to learn. A self-motivated learner also learns to be self-sufficient, without needing reinforcement or reminding. In the classroom, of course, the teacher is always available to provide students with guidance and support.
Although our teachers don’t assign grades, they closely observe each student’s progress and readiness to advance to new lessons. Monthly assessments allow parents to observe their child’s progress in various areas, and family conferences at the end of each term allow parents a more detailed view of their child’s progress, in addition to the written comments from teachers.
12. Why should I choose Montessori for my child?
Montessori education is characterized by an emphasis on independence, freedom within limits, and respect for a child’s natural psychological, physical, and social development. Montessori students are creative, open-minded, outside-the-box thinkers.
Thomas Edison, American inventor and advocate of the Montessori method, has been quoted saying, “I like the Montessori method. It teaches through play. It makes learning a pleasure. It follows the natural instincts of the human being. The present system casts the brain into a mold. It does not encourage original thought or reasoning.”
The knowledge, work habits and skills a child learns in a Montessori classroom will help them to observe more carefully, work more efficiently and focus more effectively. The child will develop a passion and love of self-directed learning, and this inner drive will naturally motivate the child to continue learning about themselves and the environment around them.
6 tech innovators who attended Montessori schools:
- Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company
- Will Wright, creator of “The Sims” videogame
- Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com
- Larry Page, co-founder of Google.com
- Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google.com
- Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia.com
13. How do Montessori kindergarten students transition to primary schools?
Our Montessori graduates are inquisitive, self-motivated, life-long learners, and thrive in both local and international school environments.
Our recent graduates have been admitted to the below schools:
- Diocesan Girls’ School
- St. Paul’s Co-Educational Primary School
- Sacred Heart Canossian School (Private Section)
- Kiangsu and Chekiang Primary School
- Rosaryhill School
- HKCA Po Leung Kuk Primary School
- St. Joseph’s Primary School
- Canadian International School of Hong Kong
- Chinese International School
- French International School
- International Christian Academy
- Korean International School
- English Schools Foundation