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Frequently Asked Questions...


Montessori classrooms look so different.... Where are the students’ desks? Where do teachers stand?  


The different arrangement of a Montessori classroom mirrors the Montessori method’s differences from traditional education. Rather than putting the teacher at the focal point of the class, with children dependent on her for information and activity, the classroom shows a literally child-centered approach. Children work at tables or on floor mats where they can spread out their materials, and the teacher circulates about the room, giving lessons or resolving issues as they arise

Aren’t Montessori children free to do whatever they want in the classroom? How do you ensure each one gets a fully rounded education? 

Montessori children are free to choose within limits and have only as much freedom as they can handle with appropriate responsibility. The classroom teacher and assistant ensure that children do not interfere with each other and that each child is progressing at her appropriate pace in all subjects.

Montessori is a pre-school system, isn’t it? 

Montessori schools may be best known for their programs with young children, but the underlying educational method describes programs for students through elementary, middle, and high school. Two of our three sister schools in the metropolitan area have middle schools.  Presently there are no Montessori High Schools in the immediate area, but plans are brewing.


Are Montessori schools as academically rigorous as traditional schools?

Yes.  Montessori classrooms encourage deep learning of the concepts behind academic skills rather than rote practice of abstract techniques. The success of Montessori students appears in the experiences of the alumni, who compete successfully with traditionally educated students.


Without objective measurements like grades, how do you assess a Montessori child’s performance?

We know the children and we watch them.  Parents of children at all levels at OakHaven Montessori School meet at least twice a year in conference with their children’s teachers to learn more about classroom work and behavior. Classroom teachers keep extensive records of lessons given and work practiced, and also offer the benefit of their individualized observations of the child’s work in the classroom.


How do Montessori graduates fare in the real world, where they don't always set the agenda?

Increasingly, the world of modern education and business favors creative thinkers who combine personal initiative with strong collaborative skills: exactly the characteristics which Montessori education nurtures. Cultural movers and shakers from Julia Child to the founders of Google, Amazon, and Wikipedia have spoken of how their childhood experiences in Montessori gave them not only the ability to work cooperatively in existing settings, but also the skills of confidence, creativity, and communication needed to make innovative and groundbreaking changes.


How well do Montessori children transition to traditional schooling?  

Of course, each child is an individual and will respond to change in his or her own way.  But here are some common traits of Montessori children, traits that cause them to adapt to new environments with ease:

  • They are comfortable in their own skin.

    • Montessori grads have grown up in a nurturing culture that encourages self-motivation, independent thinking, and the experience of taking on big challenges—all great preparation for whatever life has in store for them. Such healthy self-acceptance lays the groundwork for honoring differences and practicing tolerance. 

  • They are lifelong explorers.

    • Taught how to learn, they love (and never stop) learning. The result is strong academic performance long after they leave OakHaven. Gaining knowledge does not feel like a chore; rather, it is the natural, rewarding result of their own curiosity. 

  • They are fun to be around.

    • Their enthusiasm, civility, and respect for others are contagious. Much of their education has been built on social skills like getting along with and learning from all kinds of people; collaborating to resolve conflicts, and approaching life with open minds and open hearts. 

  • They have good character.

    • What is valued most in an OakHaven classroom?  Respect.  Responsibility. Cooperation. Compassion. Ethical behavior.  Stewardship of their community, the environment, the world.  No OakHaven student is an island. 

  • They are Montessorians for life.  

    • Most OakHaven graduates stay in touch with their “family” here.  The self-confidence and resourcefulness they learned here, the enduring relationships they formed here, and their constructive work habits are lessons that never stop shaping who they are and whom they hope to be.

Does Montessori education work well for all children?

We find that most children develop exponentially in a Montessori environment, but each child must be viewed as an individual when assessing this or any educational system.


Since Montessori classrooms emphasize non-competitiveness, how are students adequately prepared for real-life competition later on?

Montessori classrooms emphasize competition with oneself: self-monitoring, self-correction, and a variety of other executive skills aimed at continuous improvement. Students typically become comfortable with their strengths and learn how to address their weaknesses. In older classes, students commonly participate in competitive activities with clear “winners” in which students give their best performances while simultaneously encouraging peers to do the same. It is a healthy competition in which all contenders are content that they did their best in an environment with clear and consistent rules.


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