How are your Montessori schools free when other Montessori schools cost thousands of dollars a year?
Our schools are public charter schools, which means we receive funding from the government per child like a conventional public school. We are also required to meet federal and state accountability requirements. By being public charter schools, we have more autonomy to implement an authentic Montessori curriculum, and we have more freedom with hiring and firing.
What is Montessori For All’s approach to standardized testing?
We believe that all children can reach their enormous potential academically, intellectually, socially, emotionally, culturally, and physically with the right environment and support. We believe that standardized tests measure one small piece of our children’s potential, and that every child can demonstrate high levels of success on a test of basic proficiency. However, we do not believe in “teaching to the test” by resorting to “drill and kill” worksheets. Instead, we believe in preparing children to do well on the test by ensuring that every objective has a corresponding Montessori material, so that children learn everything in an authentic, meaningful way. Further, students take practice assessments throughout the year, so we can monitor and measure their progress objectively and help them feel relaxed on test day. We use standardized testing as an opportunity to prepare our children to feel comfortable and confident on future tests for college, such as the SAT, ACT, Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, etc.
I’ve heard that Montessori is about “following the child” and letting children “work at their own pace.” What if a student only wants to read all day and starts to fall behind in other subjects?
It is true that choice is an integral part of the Montessori method, and for good reason! Researchers frequently publish new articles about what a powerful motivator choice is. Our goal is to help children become internally motivated. Learning how to make positive choices is one of the most important parts of growing up and being truly prepared for college, the ever-changing 21st century workplace, and life in our families and communities. Montessori classrooms provide daily opportunities to practice making choices with guidance from adults. It’s part of our philosophy of “freedom with responsibility.” Because children stay in the same classroom for three years, the teacher (“guide”) builds a strong relationship with each child and monitors their progress very closely. We use computer software to track their progress in each subject area, and we help children understand the importance of “exercising all the parts of your brain.” Although children have choice around which subject to work on first, whether to work alone or with a partner, where to work in the classroom, etc., they do not have the choice to avoid subjects entirely or not to work.