Frequently Asked Questions

Maria Montessori was the first female graduate from the University of Rome’s school of medicine. Montessori’s early medical practice focused on psychiatry. She also developed an interest in educational theory. Her studies led her to observe and examine, the prevailing methods of teaching children with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

In 1907 Maria Montessori opened a childcare center in a poor inner-city district. This became the first Casa dei Bambini (translates to “house for children”), a quality learning environment for young children. To begin, the youngsters were rowdy, but soon showed interest in working with puzzles, learning to prepare their own food, and using materials that had foundations in mathematics. She took the time to observe how they absorbed knowledge from their surroundings, basically teaching themselves.

Using scientific observation and experience acquired from her earlier work with young children, Maria designed learning materials and a classroom environment that fostered the children’s natural desire to learn. Within a few years, the success of Montessori’s methods and school had spread throughout the world.

Her approach to education was based on her observations as well as her belief that the education of children was the means to create a better society. She observed children around the world and found that the laws of development she had recognized in Italy were universal and ingrained in children of all ages, races and cultures.

Montessori education offers children opportunities to develop their potential as they step out into the world as engaged, competent, responsible, and respectful citizens with an understanding and appreciation that learning is for life.

Each child is valued as a unique individual.

Montessori education recognizes that children learn in different ways, and accommodates all learning styles. Students are also free to learn at their own pace, each advancing through the curriculum as he is ready, guided by the teacher and an individualized learning plan.

Beginning at an early age, Montessori students develop order, coordination, concentration, and independence.

Classroom design, materials, and daily routines support the individual’s emerging “self-regulation” (ability to educate one’s self, and to think about what one is learning), toddlers through adolescents.

Students are part of a close, caring community.

The multi-age classroom—typically spanning 3 years—re-creates a family structure. Older students enjoy stature as mentors and role models; younger children feel supported and gain confidence about the challenges ahead. Teachers model respect, loving kindness, and a belief in peaceful conflict resolution.

Montessori students enjoy freedom within limits.

Working within parameters set by their teachers, students are active participants in deciding what their focus of learning will be. Montessorians understand that internal satisfaction drives the child’s curiosity and interest and results in joyous learning that is sustainable over a lifetime.

Students are supported in becoming active seekers of knowledge.

Teachers provide environments where students have the freedom and the tools to pursue answers to their own questions.

Self-correction and self-assessment are an integral part of the Montessori classroom approach.

As they mature, students learn to look critically at their work, and become adept at recognizing, correcting, and learning from their errors.

Given the freedom and support to question, to probe deeply, and to make connections, Montessori students become confident, enthusiastic, self-directed learners. They are able to think critically, work collaboratively, and act boldly—a skill set for the 21st century.

Dr. Montessori realized that children’s play is their work—their effort to master their own bodies and environment—and out of respect she used the term “work” to describe all their classroom activities. Montessori students work hard, but they don’t experience it as drudgery; rather, it’s an expression of their natural curiosity and desire to learn.

This is a fair question and deserves a thoughtful answer. Certainly there is no one right answer for every child. Often the decision depends on where each family places its priorities and how strongly parents sense that one school or another more closely fits in with their hopes and dreams for their children.

Naturally, to some degree the answer is also often connected to the question of family income as well, although we are often amazed at how often families with very modest means who place a high enough priority on their children’s education, put together the tuition needed to keep them in Montessori.

So here are a few questions to ask to help you determine whether Montessori is right for your child:

  • Do you want your child’s innate curiosity, imagination and naturally
    inventive and exploratory instincts to bloom and flourish at her own pace?
  • Do you want an environment that acknowledges the differences in your
    child’s personality and rate of learning?
  • Do you want your child in a nurturing child-centered community based on
    mutual respect, empowerment and self-reliance?
  • Do you want your child to develop a relationship with his teacher that is
    collaborative, strong and long-term?

If you answered yes to these questions, then you will want to consider a Montessori school.

In a Montessori environment, children learn to become independent, responsible, tolerant, empathetic, aware of the world that surrounds them, socially conscious, creative, confident, motivated, innovative and creative.

Your child’s emotional and social growth is fostered at a Montessori school. Maria Montessori believed that Montessori students are lifelong learners because school has always been a place of freedom and exploration.

A Montessori school is different from other schools. It’s not just that your child will learn all that she would in a traditional school plus a whole lot more. It’s how she will learn and how she will feel about learning for the rest of her life that makes a Montessori education remarkable and unique.

Children’s emotional, social, and academic development improve when they are empowered through choice. At the same time, children need to have appropriate boundaries and limits to feel safe and secure.

Children are free to move about the classroom at will, to observe, explore, experiment, talk to and work with other children, work with any equipment whose purpose they understand and to which they have been introduced, or to ask a teacher to introduce him/her to new activities. Children are not free to abuse the environment or to disturb other children at work. In order to learn there must be concentration, and the best way children can concentrate is by fixing their attention on some task without interruption.

Our teachers are trained to observe children as they engage with the materials, and to guide them toward purposeful and challenging activities. The children are invited to a multitude of lessons that are appropriate for their developmental level. Each lesson is presented in a way that engages, allows for the tactile manipulation of materials, and sets up a process which the child can repeat. When a child has mastered a skill, the teacher will give the child a lesson that is more challenging, giving special attention to the age and interest of each child. As the children get older, they collaborate with the teacher in setting daily goals that are aligned with topics for research, skill lessons and personal interests. Furthermore, because the environment itself is so stimulating and exciting, children always engage in many tasks.

Montessori teachers closely observe each student’s progress and readiness to move on to new lessons. They may orally question a student about what she has learned, or ask her to teach the lesson to a fellow student. In some schools, students compile a portfolio of their work to demonstrate their competence in a variety of skills.

PCH holds parent-teacher meetings a few times a year so parents may see their child’s work and hear the teacher’s assessment. Teachers provide a written narrative that explains a student’s progress in relation to his own development and to developmental norms.

Yes, group work is very much encouraged within the Montessori environment. Older children, also known as “leaders”, are encouraged to assist the younger children with their works and lead by example throughout the different areas of the classroom.

The three-year multi-age Montessori classroom is not an arbitrary configuration of convenience, but an implementation of the “planes of development,” or four distinct periods of growth: 0-6 years; 6-12 years; 12-18 years; and 18-24 years. Dr. Montessori, along with other developmental scientists, observed that the child’s development follows a path of successive stages, each with its own particular needs and dispositions—cognitive, social, physical, moral and emotional; and much occurs during each plane as preparation for the succeeding one. It follows then that the more fully the child realizes his potential in each plane, the stronger the foundation for the next stage of development.    

Each plane is divided into two sub-planes, on which Montessori classrooms are based (0-3 years; 3-6 years; 6-9 years; 9-12 years; 12-15 years; and 15-18 years). Montessori teachers are trained to meet the child’s needs with a three-year developmental curriculum oriented to the inherent characteristics of a particular plane. The curriculum, like development, is sequential, and by completing the three-year cycle in an environment specifically designed to address her developmental needs—whether in Primary, Elementary, or Secondary—the child’s possibilities for working toward her potential are maximized.

Many children spend only their preschool years in a Montessori classroom. Others complete the elementary grades before transferring to another—usually traditional—school. A smaller—but growing—group of students stay with Montessori through secondary school.

A child who transfers out of a Montessori school is likely to notice some differences. For example, instead of choosing his own work to investigate and master, she might have to learn what’s on the teacher’s lesson plan. Instead of moving freely around the classroom, there’s a chance she’ll sit in an assigned seat. Instead of learning in a classroom with a mixed-aged grouping, it’s probable that she’ll be placed just with students her own age.

Fortunately, children are adaptable. Poised, self-reliant, and used to working harmoniously as part of a classroom community, students who transition from Montessori typically adjust quickly to the ways of their new school.

Generally, revenue from tuition fees cover operational costs such as staff salaries, materials, equipment, etc. Additional funds raised throughout the year typically help offset some of these costs and may also be put towards a special project, such as ameliorations to our outdoor classroom.

When you enroll your child in a Montessori school, you join a warm and welcoming community of teachers, students, and families. Being an active part of that community can bring many rewards: a voice in your child’s education; greater contact with teachers; and a window into the Montessori way, among others.

There are many ways to support your child’s school, even if you have little time to spare. Volunteers are an asset to any school. So are parents who stay informed and interested in the school community, as well as those who contribute financially.

One of the best ways to support your child’s school is to learn about the Montessori approach and practice it at home. Bridging how your child learns at school and at home benefits your child, your family, and the entire school community.

Yes, in order to be enrolled in the Casa program, children must be toilet trained. Children are encouraged to be independent in their toileting, but a teacher or staff member is never far should a child need assistance.

Of course! All children are served healthy and nutritious snacks throughout the day. In regards to lunch, children attending a morning only at the Casa level do not eat their lunchtime meal at school. Otherwise, if a child attends either the full day or the afternoon only, they will eat their lunchtime meal at school.

If your child is tired and needs a nap, they are welcome to sleep.

PCH will operate on days deemed “snow days” by the UCDSB.   

When the Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) declares a “snow day” and the buses are cancelled, but the UCDSB schools remain open, then PCH will be open. The Vice-Chair or the Communications committee Chair will update PCH’s Facebook page and send an email to Parent/Guardians and teachers by 6:45am.

Parent/Guardians please check your email to make sure that you are fully informed!

**Parents/guardians should email the Vice Chair by 7:30am to let us know if your child will NOT be attending that day.

When the UCDSB schools close due to inclement weather, PCH will close too. The Vice-Chair or the Communications Officer will update PCH’s Facebook page and send an email to Parent/Guardians and teachers by 6:45am.

PCH may close midday if the UCDSB closes their Perth area schools midday, or if the teachers and the Vice Chair and/or Communications Officer agree that the school should be closed. In the case that the school closes midday, the teachers will call the Parent/Guardians to come and pick up their child(ren) ASAP.

Please listen to the local radio stations, go on the Student Transportation of Eastern Ontario (STEO) website or our Facebook page to find out if the buses are cancelled.