1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. How does the bilingual English/Chinese program work in Nursery or Kindergarten?
Strong language skills can directly improve a child’s self-confidence and social skills. In the Montessori classroom, emphasis is placed on using precise vocabulary, learning to speak with fluency, and developing excellent communication skills. Upon enrolling, parents can choose immersive language learning in English, English/Putonghua, or English/Putonghua/Cantonese. Daily language exercises are conducted in groups or in one-on-one sessions, which reinforces the child’s conversation, reading and writing skills.
5. 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.
6. What are your teachers’ qualifications and what is the student to teacher ratio?
All of our Montessori teachers are Montessori trained and certified through internationally recognized Montessori associations, including AMI (Association Montessori Internationale) and AMS (American Montessori Society). Our language teachers in English, Putonghua or Cantonese are native speakers and hold relevant language teaching qualifications. In our Pre-Casa classes, the teacher-student ratio is 1:6*, and in our Casa classes, 1:8#.
*Education Bureau requirement is 1:15
#Education Bureau requirement is 1:30
7. 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
8. How do Montessori 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
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