Frequently Asked Questions
“Montessori” is not a copyrighted term. Any school may call itself a Montessori school.
The Montessori School of Huntsville is the only accredited Montessori school in North, AL. Our school is accredited by SAIS, COGNIA, and is an American Montessori Society Verified School.
Our lead teachers hold Montessori credentials for the respective age level they teach and some hold multiple credentials. These credentials are obtained through MACTE accredited teacher education programs, which is the Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education Programs and is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
Our school follows the Montessori curriculum for children 18 months through 8th grade. Rather than relying on a single teacher to present information for rote memorization or busy work, Montessori classrooms allow guides and students to engage with concrete learning together, allowing students to learn not only with their minds, but with their bodies as well.
The Montessori curriculum meets and exceeds the standards of the Alabama Course of Study and National Curriculum Standards. Examples of just a few of our curricular content areas are: Math, Language, Physical Development, Science, Practical Life, and Art. These content areas span from toddler through 8th grade, and continue to build upon themselves, moving from concrete to abstract learning, as the child develops.
Freedom within limits is critical. Children are encouraged to explore, create, and follow their interests in Montessori education. These freedoms are cultivated through the limits of respect for oneself, others, and the environment. This guidance begins with our toddlers and progresses in a developmentally appropriate manner as the children grow. Work plans, the order of the day, the organization of materials on the shelves, and regular teacher-student communication are examples of some of the limits used in Montessori classrooms that allow children the freedom to realize their potential safely and respectfully.
At the beginning of each school year, our elementary students curate a set of classroom expectations, responsibilities, and rights.
These are a few examples of their current limits:
Treat others with kindness.
Do your work.
Respect the classroom and materials.
Respect people’s voices.
Check-in with each other.
Everyone has the right to grace.
American Montessori Society. (2023). Benefits of Montessori education. Benefits of Montessori Education for Your Child (amshq.org)
Dr. Maria Montessori theorized that children go through 4 consecutive planes of development, beginning at birth and concluding around age 24. With this in mind, she worked to design a curriculum that met the specific needs of children in each of these planes.
Young children are like sponges, absorbing the world around them, but their capacity for expanding that learning develops as they grow. Montessori discovered this through her observations, and thus, the Cosmic Curriculum, urging children to use their imaginations and see the bigger picture of the universe we live in, was born. While adhering to state and national curriculum standards, the Montessori curriculum for elementary students exceeds these standards!
Elementary children crave “big work” and social interaction with their peers. Montessori education nurtures this by allowing them the time and guidance to work in groups, explore concepts, and hear “other people’s ideas, perspectives, and thought processes” (American Montessori Society, 2023). This opportunity to dive deeper cultivates a love of learning and the ability to collaborate with others. What a beautiful way to develop a sense of wonder in children!
Montessori, M. (1991). To educate the human potential. Clio.
Montessori, M. (1995). The absorbent mind. Holt Paperbacks.
The Montessori curriculum is not designed to meet the needs of only one specific type of learner, meaning that neurotypical and neurodiverse learners are both present in Montessori classrooms. Montessori teachers are trained in scientific observation and the Montessori teaching pedagogy, allowing them to see where children are in their development while also knowing how to move each child forward in their learning.
In Montessori education, children move through the curriculum from concrete to abstract. What does the number 5 mean anyway? This is one of my favorite examples of concrete versus abstract. The number 5 is just a symbol; 5 is abstract. Montessori children first learn what the quantity of 5 looks like, which is concrete, before adding the abstract concept of the number symbol—this hands-on, kinesthetic approach to learning benefits all learners.
Many times, we have had teachers moving through their Montessori training come back to school and say, “Wow, I never understood this/that math concept until now!” This is because traditional education often approaches learning abstractly, which inhibits authentic learning and understanding.
The balance between children who are exceptional learners and those who are neurotypical is critical in providing the best education possible for all students.
Any teacher may become a Montessori teacher, but any teacher cannot be a Montessori teacher. The truth is in the “becoming.” When a teacher leaves for Montessori training, they often do not fully grasp the spiritual preparation through which they will transform. Only the Montessori teachers who have experienced this transformation know what this “becoming” means.
Montessori (1967) writes, “The teacher must undertake a twofold study: she must have a good knowledge of the work she is expected to do, and of the function of the materials, that is, of the means of a child’s development. It is difficult to prepare such a teacher theoretically. She must fashion herself; she must learn how to observe, how to be calm, patient, and humble, how to restrain her own impulses, and how to carry out her eminently practical tasks with the required delicacy” (p. 151).
Many Montessori teachers speak of their training as having stripped them bare, ridding them of all preconceived notions of children and the practice of teaching, and then building them back up to be the teachers they are meant to be. Montessori training consists of master’s level coursework; each level credential takes one to two years to obtain.
Montessori training programs must be accredited by the Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education, recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, as this ensures the validity of the training program. Montessori teachers are dedicated to the philosophy, pedagogy, and children they serve as educators.
From the infant who is developing their mathematical mind by manipulating an object to fit it into a hole to the lower elementary student using the bead chains to practice skip-counting and multiplication facts, the Montessori curriculum not only exists, but it is intentional and builds upon itself as the child grows.
The Montessori curriculum is designed to engage all areas of human development and academic standards. Each child has an individualized learning plan, carefully crafted by Montessori teachers, who are trained in the curriculum and child development and observation. Children in Montessori classrooms can dive deeper into their studies, repeat lessons until each concept is mastered, and develop the skills of independent thinking and problem-solving skills. This is how children learn to take ownership of their education.
The curriculum moves from concrete to abstract. Looking at the seeming simplicity of the infant content areas, which are practical life, psychosensory, language, and independence, and then to the lower elementary (1st-3rd grade) content areas, which are self-development, social/emotional development, practical life, mathematics, language, cultural studies, geography, biology, fine arts, and physical development the progression and connection existing throughout the curriculum is evident.
At the Montessori School of Huntsville, our curriculum aligns with and exceeds Common Core Standards. To learn more about the Montessori curriculum, spanning from infancy through adolescence, please visit: Inside the Montessori Classroom (amshq.org)
Montessori education absolutely encourages pretend play! Children from birth to age 6 are learning through their senses. Montessori recognized this and coined the term “Sensorial Explorers” to describe this stage of development. The sensory impressions taken in by these young children become the stuff from which they form their imaginations as they grow! Children from ages 6 to 12 are known by Montessorians as “Social and Cultural Explorers,” learning and experimenting about the world around them through play; they are working to integrate their early sensorial impressions. This often shows up as imaginative play (Lillard, 1996). The toddler who works hard on dishwashing in their classroom grows to become the upper elementary student who is hosting a “mud cooking show” on the playground. The progression of concrete to abstract is one of the foundations of Montessori education.
Lillard, P, P. (1996). Montessori today: A comprehensive approach to education from birth to adulthood. Schocken.
“Montessori school won’t prepare my child for the real world.”
It is common for parents to contemplate the transition from Montessori education.
“When is a good time to move my child to public school?”
“My child needs the social experience of having more children in their class.”
“How do children transition into the real world after being in Montessori?”
One of the hallmarks of a Montessori education is the multi-aged classroom. Under the guidance of Montessori-trained teachers, children work together to cultivate “skills like leadership, collaboration, creativity, and exploration” (Piche’, 2017, para. 5).
Elementary and adolescent programs achieve this by providing children with opportunities to work individually as well as in large and small groups. Children are given time to research and learn more about topics that interest them and often guide each other through this process. Children also engage in class meetings where they are mentored to gain problem-solving skills and take initiative for themselves and their community. The unique experience of a continued Montessori education fosters higher levels of these executive skills, which are essential for adulthood.
Piche’, P. (2017). There’s no such thing as the real world. Montessori Parent. American Montessori Society.