What is the difference between Montessori and traditional education?
- The Montessori method does not see the education as a linear process where the most knowledge we are supposed to gain is when we go to college. According to Dr. Montessori, the development goes through planes of development where the successful completion of one plane leads to fulfillment of the next one;
- The Montessori education is child-centered and the directress is not a teacher but a guide who follows the child;
- The child is allowed to develop at his/her own pace;
- The self-discipline occurs naturally as well as development of the will;
- Montessori gives keys for life and not ready answers, which means it helps the children to explore, think and discover;
- Social skills develop together with independence;
- Montessori followed the natural human tendencies and based her method of education on learning through exploring, experiencing through senses and manipulating with hands.
What are the Sensitive periods?
In her book “The Secret of Childhood”, Dr. Montessori compares sensitive periods to a flame and says they are ‘intrinsic to life’. The Sensitive periods overlap and coincide; they can be parallel or can vary in length. They are found only during development and they cannot be found in the adult. If we do not provide for a certain sensitive period and it passes then we cannot return because it is lost forever. The sensitive periods are most in number and most obvious during the First Plane of development. There are sensitive periods for: language, order, refinement of senses, and movement.
What does Absorbent Mind mean and what is its role in child’s development and education?
In her book “The Absorbent Mind”, Dr. Montessori says, ‘Our work as adults does not consist in teaching, but in helping the infant mind in its work of development.’ The Absorbent Mind discovered by Dr. Montessori is undoubtedly revolutionary and can completely change the approach to education. What we all should realize is how important the absorbent mind is and that the first years of our life are crucial for our existence as adults. The absorbent mind is a unique kind of mentality that allows the child to absorb knowledge quickly and effortlessly. The child absorbs everything from the environment during his first years after birth and that is why the first plane of development is of main importance. During this period, the child has a different kind of mind. It does not matter whether what he absorbs is simple or complex because the child puts the same effort.
If the children do not continue their education in a Montessori school after their 6/7 year, will they lose what they have learned?
Not only they will not lose what they have learned, but also they will do better. Montessori children are well-behaved, disciplined, creative, and flexible. The first years of children’s lives are the most important because this is when they start building their personalities, learn effortlessly, and gain most of their knowledge that they will gain for the rest of their lives. The Montessori environment is prepared to meet all their needs and the knowledge, experience, and skills they gain during these first years of development cannot be forgotten.
What is the guide’s role in the classroom?
Dr. Montessori saw the adult in the children’s house as a directress of a new type who “instead of facility in speech, she has to acquire the power of silence; instead of teaching, she has to observe; instead of the proud dignity of one who claims to be infallible, she assumes the vesture of humility.” (The Advanced Montessori Method, vol.1) The Montessori adult is an observer as well as servant of the child’s spirit, and thus when she sees its manifestations answering her faith; she reaches the level of joy and love at which she has never been before. Only a prepared adult, who has faith in the method, in the children, in herself, and applies the method in its totality, can help the child on his path to independence.
Why observation has an important role in the Montessori Method?
On one hand the goal of observation is to comprehend the needs of the children and respond to them, and on the other to help to remove the obstacles that children face in their growth and development. Dr. Montessori made all her discoveries about children through observation. Observation is the ‘cornerstone’ and ‘the source of the vital and developmental power’ of Dr. Montessori’s work and ‘animates the love which flows through it. ’ (Joosten, A.M.), Dr. Montessori says, ‘Observation itself is an art and has to be exercised. It is not easy. We must free ourselves from so much prejudice especially with regard to the child. Observation does not judge, much less pre-judge.’ (Montessori M., The Formation of Man). Observation is a capacity acquired through practice.
Who is the Montessori approach suitable for?
Montessori is suitable for everyonе who shares that philosophy (See #1). There is a difference between Montessori Guide and Montessori Therapist. The certified Montessori guide is not necessary a Montessori Therapist.
Why Montessori materials should be presented by a trained adult?
The dynamic link between the children and the environment is the trained adult. This enables the child to benefit most from the method. There is a certain sequence and requirements for presenting Montessori material. If the directress (the guide) does not understand the theory behind each activity and has not gone through his own transformation and training, s/he will not be able to provide for the child’s developmental needs.
Is it true that the children have only individual presentations and how do they develop social skills?
Children do individual presentations, and there are small group presentations as well. Every day after the 3-hour work cycle the children have circle time when they play together, read a book, sing a song, or learn a poem. They play together outside, they have extra curriculum activities, sports, and games together. Children also garden together. There are plenty of opportunities to develop social skills also during snack or lunch time.
Do parents participate in their children’s school life and how?
We believe that working together with the parents leads to best results in education. Parents are involved through volunteering, celebrating holidays and birthdays together, and organizing field-trips. Parents are also welcome to observe in the classroom. We schedule parents reading days when you can come and read to the children for 20 mins. Parents are encouraged to tell the children about interesting customs and traditions, and to organize and participate in art projects.
Is it true that the children are always free to do what they want?
Yes and no. The children are free with certain boundaries and following specific rules in the environment. For example, the children can work with materials by their choice, but only if they have had a presentation from the guide.
What kinds of qualification do the Montessori guides at the school hold?
There is an AMI trained guide in each primary classroom. Assistant-teachers hold bachelor’s or masters degree in early childhood education/psychology/speech therapy or philology.
When can I enroll my child?
We enroll children any time during the school year if there are places available. The enrollment process for the next school year usually starts in February and ends at the end of March.
What kind of food do children eat at school?
The food offered by the Montessori Children’s House is based on principles of healthy and balanced children’s nutrition and contains variety of all essential food groups such as grains and cereals, vegetables and fruits, milk/cheese/yogurt, meat/fish/poultry, legumes, and healthy fats. Food in Montessori Children’s House includes the following meals and beverages during the day:
- morning snack of fresh fruits/vegetables and tea/water
- afternoon snack
The food in Montessori Children’s House is provided by an organic certified catering company, which has all the required licenses according to the Bulgarian legislation. The food menu is composed by the catering company’s representative and approved by the Nurse and the Head of Montessori Children’s House.
Children in MCH are not given: candies, chocolate, packaged chocolate, sugar based snacks, peanuts, blue cheese, smoked cheese, fried foods, fluorinated yogurt/water, caned/dissolvable juices, genetically modified foods, foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMO), unpeeled cucumbers, or foods with high content of fats, carbohydrates, salt, spice or exotic foods. Children will not be given foods containing artificial colorings and flavors (such as aspartame), preservatives, high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated (“trans”) fats such as margarine (including hydrogenated fats containing milk products as cheese and yogurt), or Mono-Sodium glutamate (MSG) (found in mixed dried spices and condiments “Vegeta” and “Maggi fix” type, dissolvable broth cubes, and instant powdered soups). Children are also not allowed to bring such foods to MCH.
The drinking water is spring or table water appropriate for daily consumption from children under the age of 7.
Children can also bring food from home but it needs to answer the requirements mentioned above.
How often do children go out for recess?
The children go outside every day in the morning and in the afternoon during spring, summer, autumn and part of the winter months. In winter, when it gets dark at 4:30 p.m., children go outside only before lunch.
When there is a storm, we stay inside and play in the room.
Are there any holidays for the toddler and primary groups?
We believe that the best development of the child is related to the balance between the academic and physical activities and the regular breaks/holidays.
The school is closed for five days in winter, three days in spring and one month in summer (August, for facilities renovation and summer break).
Do children go on field trips?
Primary groups go on field trips. We visit museums, theatres, nature sights and other places of interest. We go horse ridingand hiking in the mountains.
Do children take a nap?
Children up to 3 years take a nap every day in the bedrooms. Children between 3- 7 years take a nap if they want to, or upon according agreement with their parents.
What are the working hours of Montessori Children’s House?
“Montessori Children’s House” works eleven months of the year from 8:15 to 5:30 p.m. Afterschool care is provided until 6:30 p.m. every day for the primary groups. Toddlers attend from 8:15 to 5:30 p.m.
What is MCH health and illness policy?
Sick children are not allowed to attend classes. If the child gets sick during the day, the parent is asked to pick him/her up within 45 minutes.
Staff is not allowed to administer any medicine to any of the children, even if asked by a parent.
After sick absence, a child can return to school only with a doctor’s note stating that s/he is healthy and can attend school.
Is “Montessori Children’s House licensed by the Bulgarian Ministry of Education?
Yes, “Montessori Children’s House” is licensed by Ministry of Education with order
РД 14-60/ 08.07.2013г.
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