Frequently Asked Questions
What ages do Montessori schools serve?
Heart of Texoma Montessori Academy currently serves students in Early Childhood (2.5-6 years) through Elementary (6-12 years) with plans to soon serve Middle School students (12-15 years), and in the near future, expand services to High School students (15-18 years) as well.
How many students are typically in a Montessori classroom?
Heart of Texoma Montessori Academy presently has two Primary, one Lower Elementary, and one Upper Elementary classroom capped at 11 students each, in compliance with state licensing requirements relating to current room size. This ratio will change as our physical facilities change.
Because Montessori focuses on the lessons students learn within the community of learners, Primary through High School classrooms may sometimes include 20-22 students. Within multi-age classrooms, where the teachers are guides, older students have the opportunity to develop leadership skills as they exhibit good role model behaviors, and, in the process, younger students benefit from the support and encouragement they receive. Within this model, all students develop confidence in their ability to learn and problem-solve challenges, understanding when it may be beneficial to collaborate. Through this process, students develop valued independence in learning.
Why do Montessori teachers encourage my young child to be independent?
Maria Montessori firmly believed that allowing children to explore, question, and experiment, with materials within the classroom, the natural world around them, and interpersonal relationships helped them develop into confident, self-reliant, independent learners, which prepared them for future learning and helped them develop into strong leaders for their families and communities. Therefore, within the Montessori classroom at Heart of Texoma Montessori Academy, even our youngest learners are encouraged to practice caring for their personal needs, their classroom environment, and personal relationships with peers and teachers. We have found that children who learn how to think, work, and play independently, making self-directed choices within a developmentally appropriate framework, become self-confident learners who take pleasure and pride in their goals and accomplishments.
Can Montessori accommodate gifted children? What about children with other special learning needs?
Within the Montessori classroom, every child is viewed as uniquely gifted and is valued as an individual. Consequently, the work materials developed and processes of learning within a Montessori classroom lend themselves to successful learning for all children. At Heart of Texoma Montessori Academy, we have a diverse student population in which respect for learning differences is practiced within the learning community. Our multi-age classrooms, with individualized learning plans, enable students with a variety of abilities and interests to learn at their own pace. Students have time to revisit a work or concept repeatedly until mastery. Students who master a work quickly are free to receive a lesson on the next concept without waiting for others’ learning to match theirs. Within the multi-age classroom, children have the opportunity to learn from peers and share their learning and thought processes, thereby helping one another, developing leadership skills, and strengthening interpersonal relationships within the classroom environment. In addition, we have fostered relationships within the community to assist families with referrals when specialized needs, such as dyslexia or speech therapy, are recommended.
Do Montessori teachers follow a curriculum?
Heart of Texoma Montessori Academy teachers provide an academic program covering traditional subject areas; mathematics, science, reading and language, history, and geography. The presentation looks much different than in traditional school. The curriculum is integrated; for instance, when studying a map of South America, students may explore the Spanish language, art, history, music, food, and inventions of South American countries. Integrated learning allows students to immerse themselves in a topic, allows for curiosity to guide learning, and helps them connect with the world around them. In addition, our teachers guide children as they develop social skills, problem-solving skills, leadership, and the understanding and ability to embrace their responsibility within the learning community for respect for one another, nature, materials, and the indoor/outdoor learning environments. Teachers guide children to look for and appreciate the intrinsic value of accomplishments in the process of interacting and learning within the Montessori environment.
Is it true that Montessori students are free to do whatever they want and at their own pace?
It was Dr. Montessori’s observation that when children have the freedom to choose their work and are allowed to learn at their own pace, they are much more motivated to work toward mastery of that concept and develop a love of learning as they have the freedom to choose, explore, and discover. Consequently, Heart of Texoma Montessori Academy students are encouraged to choose their focus of learning within the work time, from the materials and activities the classroom teacher has prepared and presented to the child. Children have the opportunity to work at their pace to mastery of a concept, thereby, laying a firm foundational base upon which all other learning rests. In addition, beginning in Lower Elementary and proceeding throughout the classrooms with older age students, with the guidance of the teacher, the students work from their individual work plans, choose their daily work, learn to set learning goals, and manage their time to meet those goals, or at times, make appropriate adjustments to timelines when additional time for mastery of a concept is needed. Students and teachers conference regularly about progress, challenges encountered, scheduling the next lesson which will build the next layer of a concept—and celebrating accomplishments. Within this structure, students can work at their own pace, taking the necessary time with each concept for mastery. Students who quickly master a concept can move on to the next, thereby, every student is learning and working at a pace that best suits them.
If students work at their own pace, don’t they fall behind?
Students who are rushed through learning concepts and competencies, before mastery is achieved, are the students that typically fall behind. The Heart of Texoma Montessori Academy teachers carefully observes and guides each child, providing materials and activities that help the child master concepts and protect them from moving too quickly through a concept before mastery. Implementing careful observations, conversations, and conferences, teachers are continuously assessing the child’s successful mastery of concepts or their need to continue working to mastery. Upon mastery of a concept, the teacher then provides the next lesson to the student, and introduces new materials and activities, ensuring the student understands the process and is allowed to explore, investigate, and discover new knowledge. With this individualized guidance, they are challenged within the curriculum, and mastery builds a solid learning foundation upon which more complex concepts may rest.
Why are Montessori schools all work and no play?
Early Childhood Research proves the importance of young children learning through play. Maria Montessori identified children’s play as their work, consequently, Montessori schools refer to classroom learning as work. Early Childhood students engage their curiosity about the world around them, as they interact with materials and in activities providing them opportunities to master new concepts through exploration, experimentation, and discovery--play. At Heart of Texoma Montessori Academy, after summer, spring, or winter break, it is not unusual for our students to ask when they may go to “work.” Typically, children arrive throughout the school year with joy and excitement as their day begins, often with a plan of which “work” they want to begin in the morning work time. Each classroom has an appropriate structure in their daily schedule that enables children to set appropriate expectations as to how the day will flow, which brings stability, security, and peace to the young child’s environment.
Our students enter a prepared classroom with Montessori materials as well as life skills materials for Primary classrooms, in which the children “work” to mastery of concepts guided by the teacher and the academic theme. Elementary classrooms provide an array of Montessori materials, some of which became good, familiar “friends” as children worked through Primary and then transitioned to Elementary. Montessori materials have been designed to build and develop more advanced concepts as they first teach concrete concepts, and then as the child’s understanding grows, these same materials may be used to transition the child as he/she develops abstract thinking. In addition to the work time, two recesses, snack time, lunch, and other activities throughout the day provide the children with play, exercise, peer conversation, and fun interactions.
Is it true that Montessori students have the same teacher for all subjects?
Heart of Texoma Montessori Academy classroom teachers are qualified generalists, highly competent in teaching all subject areas within their multi-age classroom. We currently offer all classrooms, Spanish instruction with a qualified Spanish teacher, once a week and have offered two, two-week Spanish immersion summer camps, over the summer. Art is taught within the classroom curriculum, following the Montessori practice of artist studies, incorporating a rich overall view of the artist, life, and culture that influenced the artist, various works of the artist, and opportunities for students to try their hand at the art genre. Music is taught within the classroom framework, with two music performances each year, and physical education is supported through two recesses, free play, and organized team activities.
Do Montessori schools assign homework?
Heart of Texoma Montessori Academy assigns homework two days per week in the Elementary classrooms, with the expectation that students will complete the tasks with little or no parental help, within 20-40 minutes. As students mature, more responsibilities for completing homework are expected, including special projects assigned throughout the year.
I’ve heard that Montessori teachers don’t really teach. Is this true? If so, what do they do?
At Heart of Texoma Montessori Academy, the teacher acts as a guide. The Montessori curriculum supports the individual student’s needs, interests, and learning styles. Montessori teachers are often found sitting on the floor, giving a child or a small group a lesson, demonstrating an activity or lesson students will then complete on their own, or conferencing with a student when the work is complete. The Montessori teacher makes observations throughout the day, in order for the teacher to determine when to introduce the next challenging lesson to a child or when a previous lesson may need to be revisited if a skill is not yet mastered. These observations enable the teacher to guide each child through the curriculum at the appropriate pace and level of challenge with their individualized work plan.
Why don’t Montessori teachers give grades?
The Heart of Texoma Montessori Academy’s approach to learning and assessing student progress, nurtures the child’s natural desire to learn, guiding the child to recognize and appreciate the intrinsic value of his/her hard work, ability to overcome challenges and celebrate successes in learning. We agree with Montessori's theory, that assigning letter grades for work, like other external rewards, does not carry the long-lasting effect a child develops in having the opportunity to recognize and celebrate the little and large accomplishments in mastery of concepts. When children, of all ages, learn to appreciate the intrinsic value of learning, they become self-sufficient, taking responsibility for their learning, meeting deadlines, and respecting other members’ time and work when collaborating. The teacher remains an active guide, always available to provide students with guidance and support. Teachers continue to observe and assess each student’s progress, conference, help plan and guide goal setting, and the student’s readiness to advance to the next level of learning. Children’s work plans and learning objectives mastered are regularly updated, reflecting the child’s progress in mastery of those learning objectives. Teachers are always ready to help the child recognize accomplishments, and ever ready to celebrate achieved milestones!
Heart of Texoma Montessori Academy schedules two parent-teacher conferences per year and is available to conference with parents throughout the year when requested. This is the time parents may see samples of the child’s work, discuss progress, accomplishments, challenges, and growth as a learner, and with older children, even their child’s self-assessment.
If grades are not provided in high school, how will my child apply for and be accepted into college?
There are over 150 Montessori High Schools preparing students for college entry. Traditionally, Montessori students are well-received by colleges of their choice.
Many Montessori High Schools provide a teacher as a mentor to each Junior/Senior student, who helps them prepare for college entry, guiding them in managing a timeline to complete the various components they will need to successfully apply and compete for college admittance.
As with students from traditional schools, Montessori students will need to plan for and take the ACT (in which scholarships are sometimes tied) and the SAT and prepare an excellently written admission essay. A transcript will also be prepared for submission. Colleges are looking for well-rounded individuals, not just students who are academically successful based on a grade point average. The Montessori experience provides a wide array of life experiences to complement academic achievement. This is where Montessori students shine. Students prepare a portfolio of work and accomplishments, showcasing academics, sports, arts, and community involvement. If a student has studied overseas, it should be included. With pre-planning and guidance, Montessori High School students are well-prepared to follow their dreams into college, and well-equipped for success.
Do Montessori students take standardized tests?
Standardized testing is optional in private Montessori schools. Heart of Texoma Montessori Academy administers the IOWA test once a year to our Kindergarten through 7th grade students, in order to better inform our instruction and design individual work plans for our student population. Because this is the only standardized test our students take, and testing is limited to two hours per day, with a healthy snack and restroom break, our students tend to be excited about the opportunity, and it is viewed as a special opportunity, which they enjoy. Should students move and need test data for a new school, the IOWA assessment provides for that requirement.
Should I keep my child in Montessori as he graduates to higher grade levels?
Heart of Texoma Montessori Academy currently offers a Montessori curriculum through 6th grade with the intention of adding 7th grade and then high school. At higher levels, Montessori programs continue to build on the foundation students have developed through Elementary, with rigorous student-centered studies with purposeful work our families have come to expect from the Montessori journey. As students grow into Montessori High School, their activities may change to include service learning, internships, outdoor education, and entrepreneurship opportunities that encourage community responsibility and global vision. Montessori's theory supports and encourages self-confidence, problem-solving, and taking responsibility for the needs children see around them. These advanced opportunities prepare students to identify needs within their community, collaborate with others in formulating practical solutions, make their communities better places to live, and impact their world for good.
It is recommended that parents conference with the child’s teacher relating to the next stage of development, the child’s interests, strengths, and learning goals for him/her as this next level of academics stretches ahead. It may be helpful to visit the classroom and teacher to see what the child will experience and perhaps speak with parents of children in that grade level to learn about their Montessori experience as their child grows and continues through the higher grade levels of the Montessori classroom.
What will my Montessori child do if there isn’t a higher-level program for him/her to transition into?
Traditionally, children who transition from Montessori into another type of program tend to thrive socially and academically because of the foundational skills they have developed throughout their Montessori experience. Because Montessori children are typically poised, confident learners, and work well with others, Montessori children tend to adjust quickly to a new environment and positively impact and contribute to their new learning environment.
How well do Montessori students do compared to students in non-Montessori schools?
Research indicates, when comparing Montessori students and students within traditional schools, that Montessori students perform academically as well or better than their non-Montessori peers. The benefits of Montessori increase with the length of experience a student has within the Montessori community. It is often noted that Montessori students are typically accepted into high schools and colleges of their choosing and many Montessori graduates consider their Montessori years as having an important impact on their life experiences.
Are Montessori schools accredited?
Many Montessori schools are accredited, and many are not. The process of Montessori accreditation is a multi-year process, consequently, because Heart of Texoma Montessori Academy is entering into its second year, it is not yet accredited through a Montessori accrediting organization but is working toward accreditation. Our teachers are all Montessori trained. The following are some classic Montessori classroom components a parent should look for when choosing a non-accredited Montessori school:
Daily three-hour work periods in which children choose from works they have received lessons on.
Multi-age classrooms (Primary ages 3-6, Lower Elementary 1st-3rd grade, Upper Elementary 4th-6th grade, Middle School ages 12-15, High School ages 15-18)
Peaceful, clutter-free, organized, and prepared classrooms with Montessori materials available to children within their eye level and reach. Child-size tables and chairs and ample floor space for floor work. Classrooms are designed with natural materials, wood, glass, and ceramics.
Teachers fill the role of guide, advisor, and observer.