Frequently asked questions about Montessori.

 What is Montessori?
The basics in Montessori can be summed up by one sentence: Follow the child!
Maria Montessori, who started the Montessori method in the beginning of the 18th century, wanted the world to understand what enormous potential children have. She emphasized the importance of creating a solid ground for the child’s self esteem and self worth within the early years.
Being confident within yourself helps you to be confident and take responsibility within a group. The Montessori teacher’s job is to support the child – the child is never wrong, only half right!


Is Montessori suitable for all children?
Yes, the Montessori method is about following the child’s development – and all children develop.


Do Montessori children become too individualistic?
This is a common question in our country because child care traditionally has been very group orientated. Maria Montessori’s overall ambition with her practice was world peace. The way to world peace was to create confident children with high self esteem. Something that is learned in fellowship with others - a way where one learn how to take responsibility for the consequences of one own actions within the group.
This could be perceived as negative - at least in some totalitarian regimes in the world – but not in a school where its goal is to nurture independent and questioning individuals, which is fundamentally a good thing.


Do you have regular toys at your preschool?
Yes, if you by regular toys mean dolls, lego, balls, building blocks, outdoor toys etc.
But the children perceive everything as toys. What we call “work” is for them a developmental play where they are stimulated both motor and sensory wise. Often will the child on its own choose not to play with the “traditional” toys when being exposed to a Montessori environment.
A crucial part of the method is to participate in the everyday activities. They bake, cook, set the tables, dust, clean, water the flowers etc – everything with real equipment that are adjusted to their size. To participate in these activities nourishes their fantasy.



Are the children allowed to create and play freely?
Montessori often calls the children’s play-learn-activities work. Adults usually have a hard time using that term, but the children are at work for their development.  The children choose for themselves what activity they want to try out and do it happily. “Free play” becomes an abstract term in the children’s eyes. For example in roll play will the teacher not interfere as long as the play doesn´t get destructive or dangerous.
When it comes to the creative work a lot is depending on the teacher. Feel free to visit us and see our painting area yourself that is often occupied by a small artist – or see our loom where beautiful fabric is created.


Why do Montessori groups always have mixed ages?
Working in groups at Montessori is voluntary and the children have the opportunity to interact with friends on the same skill level or with the same interests - regardless of age. In that way, the older help the younger, and the younger grows. It takes a receptive teacher and a good environment in order for this to work.


Are there any differences between other Montessori preschools?
The basics within the Montessori method are the same. However the Montessori teachers will have a personal influence on the practice and there will always be a difference in the emphasis on individual subjects and areas.
A good advice is to visit the preschool and create your own opinion.  The more you have read about the Montessori method, the more you will be able to judge the practice.


Do children with concentration problems withstand Montessori?
The Montessori method was initially created to stimulate children. In todays over stimulated society there is a lot of energy just on keeping order and structure of all impressions in a fast-paced world around us.
The Montessori materials and environment helps the child to focus. There are no sessions, when one is done with its assignment one moves on to the next. It counteracts concentration problems and provides more harmonious and calm children.


What does work, sensitive periods etc mean?
There are theses describing the meaning of Montessori words. We will nonetheless try to describe a few words with a simple dictionary:


A Montessori child will not say “today I learned how to count to a hundred” it will say “today I have worked on the hundred board. Calling the activities where children play and learn in an enjoyable way "work" is meant as an expression of respect.


Sensitive periods
The Montessori method describes six different sensitive periods:
- Sensitivity to order
- Sensitivity to language
- Sensitivity to learn
- Sensitivity to social practice
- Sensitivity to small objects and details
- Sensitivity to learn with all senses
During these periods of time a child will often get totally absorbed in their work and can repeat an exercise many times in order to learn.


Behind all materials - that were made to be the children's learning tool - was an idea of how it will stimulate and train their senses. The material is often perceived as a toy by the child but as a teaching material for the adult.


Observing children is the basis of the teacher's work that leads to a deep knowledge and understanding of each child's feelings, needs, knowledge and interests. This does not mean sitting on a chair watching the child. The observation is made constantly by observing the child, spending time with it and talking to the child.


Absorbent mind
A description of the children's fast and unconscious ways to take in information within the first six years. In the first three years for example, they learn their native language on a record pace and in an unconscious way. By three to six years, it grows a conscious thinking capacity, but the mind is still very absorbing.



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