Frequently Asked Questions
What is Montessori?
The Montessori approach was developed by Dr. Maria Montessori, the first female physician in Italy. She devoted her life to the study of how children learn.
Dr. Montessori developed a comprehensive, child-centered approach to education based on the following principles:
- Education should prepare children for life – intellectually, emotionally and physically
- Children learn best in an environment that fosters independence, and encourages their innate need to explore and discover.
- Children should be allowed to progress at their own pace, regardless of ability level or age
Dr. Montessori’s teachings are widely used today in education. More than 4,000 schools incorporate the Montessori method in their curriculum.
There are many resources available to learn more about Montessori. We recommend beginning with the Association Montessori Internationale of the United States, a national, non-profit organization dedicated to Maria Montessori’s vision.
Is the Montessori approach still relevant to contemporary education?
Absolutely. More than 4,000 schools leverage the Montessori approach to educate students.
Is the Montessori approach effective?
Yes. The following studies provide details on the effectiveness of Montessori education:
- Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius, written by Angeline S. Lillard, PhD
- Outcomes for Students in a Montessori Program, prepared by Dohrmann, K.
In addition to studies, the accomplishments of Montessori graduates speak to the effectiveness of the approach.
How are Montessori teachers trained? Do they have the same certifications as teachers at other schools?
At Hershey Montessori all our lead guides (teachers) have completed AMI (Association Montessori Internationale) training for the level they serve, in addition to a bachelor’s degree. This training ensures the guide is deeply knowledgeable about the developmental psychology of the children they serve, in addition to how to invite and inspire the use of self-teaching materials. Montessori training is equivalent of an additional year of graduate study. Many Montessori training centers are affiliated with graduate programs; therefore, many guides have also completed their Masters of Education degree.
At the Huntsburg Campus our guides have completed the NAMTA Orientation to Adolescence course in addition to their degrees and specialty training. Many also have AMI Montessori training at one or two other levels.
Why do classrooms have mixed age groups?
One of Montessori’s guiding principles is that children should be allowed to progress at their own pace. Just as all children walk and talk at different ages, they also master other skills at their own pace. Mixed age groups spanning approximately three years allow students to master skills as they are ready, and create opportunities for students to mentor and teach one another. We see significant benefits for students when they have the opportunity to learn from and teach their peers.
If children work independently and are free to choose much of the work, how do you ensure they learn all necessary skill sets?
The Montessori trained guide (teacher) observes, assesses and tracks the individual progress of the child. While students are free to choose their work, it is within the guidelines of course materials. During the course of a three-year cycle the guide will present all the necessary material and ensure the student is grounded in all key areas of the curriculum.
Parents have conferences with guides at all levels and will receive reports that offer an individualized narrative addressing whole-child engagement, achievement and measurable assessment of progress.
The Stanford Achievement Tests is provided for all students beginning at 4th year and provides an additional view of the child’s relative standardized achievement.
How do guides provide structure in the classroom?
Montessori students engage in personally challenging and developmentally meaningful activity through purposeful work. From the very beginning the child is given an appropriate amount of freedom within consistent and clearly defined limits. They are free to practice the skills of independence, such as: social language, care of self and others and respect. The learning environment is designed to support order, respect, courtesy, collaborative learning and positive attachment with the guides (teachers).
What if my child needs extra academic support? What about children with disabilities?
The individualized nature of Montessori allows students of differing abilities and learning styles to achieve their own potential. The mixed-age groups and individualized abilities at each level provide inclusive and supportive learning environments. In addition to the Montessori guide’s (teacher’s) training in observation, Hershey Montessori School has a comprehensive approach to general screening and referrals for additional support by learning coaches, speech language therapists or additional expertise outside of school as needed. Some children may qualify for an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or Service Plan through their local school district.
How do Montessori students adapt to other classroom environments, like a traditional high school or university?
Montessori students are well prepared for any educational setting they choose. These include independent schools, public schools, parochial and boarding schools around the country.
Visit the Success For Life page to learn more about the accomplishments of Montessori students and graduates of Hershey Montessori.
Does Montessori use a grading scale similar to traditional schools? How are students measured?
Montessori does not find grades a useful, sustaining method for motivating children.
Rather than applying an A, B, C, D or F to a student’s efforts, the Montessori guide (teacher) observes the child and carefully tracks student progress over time. This process is aided by guides staying with the same students for three to four years and coming to understand their strengths and abilities. Montessori students are also shown strategies to self-assess the quality of their work, a skill required for thriving outside of the classroom.
Ultimately, parents will understand the success of their child through detailed, individualized progress reports prepared by the guide.
What is the importance of nature in Montessori education?
We believe it’s vital for infants and children of all ages to connect with nature on a daily basis. A connection to and respect for the natural world is critical for human development and forming children who are positive, impactful and nurturing global citizens. The ability to connect with nature begins at an early age at Hershey Montessori, starting with the Concord campus where outdoor classrooms are as impactful as indoor spaces.
Maria Montessori believed that understanding human interdependence and the ways in which people live and work together are critical for development, especially in adolescence. The environment Montessori described as best suited for this developmental task is an operating farm where students live, work, and study in a microcosm of society. This is described as land-based learning.
Hershey Montessori’s Huntsburg Campus, developed as a farm school, creates the ideal environment for students to understand skills such as: growing their own food, managing natural resources, overseeing a budget and caring for animals.
Learn more about land-based learning at Hershey Montessori.
Is Hershey Montessori representative of the diversity of our community?
We value diversity and welcome all students without regard to race, color, creed or national origin. We are dedicated to fostering a community that is respectful of the uniqueness of each individual. We offer need-based financial aid to support economic diversity within the community.