Q: Is Montessori a franchise? Who can open a Montessori school?
A: The term Montessori is not trademarked and anyone, regardless of training, experience or affiliation can open a “Montessori” school. It is essential that parents researching Montessori act as good consumers to ensure the authenticity of their chosen program. Parents should look to ensure the school has been accredited by Association Montessori Internationale to ensure an authentic Montessori program and curriculum. Fiore is an AMI accredited program.
Q: Are Montessori schools religious?
A: The Montessori pedagogy educates children without reference to religious denomination. Some Montessori schools are affiliated with a religion. Fiore Montessori is secular and therefore our classrooms are extremely diverse, with representation from all peoples, cultures and religions.
Q: Isn’t Montessori just a preschool?
A: Montessori schools may be best known for their programs with young children, but the underlying educational method describes programs for students up through high school.
Q: What is the advantage of the multi-age Classrooms?
A: Multi-age classrooms afford teachers the luxury of adapting the curriculum to the individual child. Each child can work at his or her own pace, while remaining in community with his or her peers. A three-year age span in the classroom allows children the opportunity to use a wide range of engaging materials that keep them challenged to learn. As the child’s interests change, the range of available materials allows the child to move from one level of complexity to another. As is experienced in every Montessori classroom, mixed ages allows the children to work with others who are older and younger than themselves. The older students serve as role models and tutors for the younger students, and in the process they gain confidence in their own abilities and self-esteem regarding their skill level and expertise. This format allows all older children to be the leaders of the classroom community – even those children who may be shy or quiet. The younger ones watch the older ones, and in the process they gain a clear vision of what’s expected of them, and have the benefit of working with and learning from their peers as well as the teacher. The classroom community is a direct preparation for life in the family and in the workplace. Communicating and working well with others are important life skills.
Q: Why don’t you have tests or grades?
A: A Montessori classroom uses observation as a means of gauging student progress. Within the work are “tests” or controls that help the teacher in seeing precisely what the student has mastered and what knowledge is still needed to move forward. A real-life example of mastery is obtained and applied to working through the Montessori curriculum. Montessori teachers teach their students for three years so they have an in-depth knowledge of each child’s progress. They know their students and their knowledge so well that a written test is not necessary. The emphasis in a Montessori class is on intrinsic vs. extrinsic learning. Learning based on intrinsic motivation (self-motivation,pride) is much more successful that extrinsic motivation (rewards, punishment praise). Traditional grades provide a quantitative evaluation of a child’s work. Grading creates an environment of winners and losers, undermining the spirit of cooperation and community. Research indicates that grading actually reduces creativity, as students aim for work that will be safe and acceptable to the adult. Children begin to work to please the adult rather than themselves; to work for the extrinsic rather than the intrinsic reward.
Q: How do Montessori students transition into more traditional schools?
A: Our students have the wonderful experience of a smooth transition, whether they choose a public or private school. It is recommended that the transition points are at the completion of each three-year cycle. It is our hope that each student who joins us will complete their elementary cycle with Fiore. Happily, the habits and skills a child develops in a Montessori class last a lifetime and stand a child in good stead no matter where they go.
Q: What are your classroom ratios?
A: We follow the DSS state guidelines for Virginia
Q: Do you offer part time program options?
A: As a school, all of our program options are 5 days a week to build consistency in the children’s daily lives.
Q: What is your snow day policy?
A: We follow Fairfax County Public Schools for the first snow day closing per storm. We will make our own decision for days after that since we don’t have buses picking up children. We of course want everybody to be safe and will make the best decision for our community.
Q: Can I stop by for a tour without an appointment.
A: We ask that you please sign up for a tour on our website or speak with one of our administrative staff members to schedule a time to visit our school.
Q : If children are free to choose their own work, how do you ensure that they receive a well-rounded education?
A: Montessori children are free to choose within limits, and have only as much freedom as they can handle with appropriate responsibility. The teacher creates daily and weekly lesson plans and tracks every lesson for each child. She maintains detailed individualized records of each child’s progress. The teacher connects the child with the curriculum and then tracks their progress to ensure that every child masters their appropriate level and element of the curriculum.
Q: How does Montessori use computers/technology in the classroom and in the curriculum?
A: We do not introduce computers into the classroom until children reach our elementary program. Not because Montessori schools don’t believe in technology, but because the young child learns best through experience in the concrete, tactile reality of the three-dimensional world rather than through two-dimensional simulation of an electronic, virtual reality. Consider the child’s experience of a cube. Do they learn more by seeing a flat, screen image of a cube (actually a two-dimensional hexagon), or by lifting a polished wooden block that measures 10 cm on each side and weighs 50 grams? Montessori materials are our technology. Our elementary program has one computer in our library for use with research projects only.
Q: Does Fiore offer a lunch option for students?
A: Yes, we do! If parents choose, they may sign their child up to have a catered lunch. Both standard and vegetarian options are available.