Frequently Asked Questions

What is Montessori?

Montessori is based on the belief that real learning occurs through the spontaneous activity of children in a co-operative, non-competitive environment, which promotes a joy of learning and the development of self-disciplined, self-motivated independent learners. The Montessori approach to education is child centred and is based on mutual respect and cooperation; the child is treated with the same respect that adults would show to another adult. Children are appreciated as individuals and nurtured in an atmosphere of acceptance and trust.

The Montessori classroom is a carefully prepared environment that facilitates self-learning; where activities performed at an early age are an indirect preparation for a later skill. The Director does not teach in the traditional sense, but observes and guides children’s progress, helping them to help themselves. Montessori education fosters independence and responsibility.

Why are the teachers called Directors?

The teacher is called a Director because his/her role differs considerably from that of a traditional teacher. He/She observes the individual interests and needs of each child and his/her daily work proceeds from his/her observations rather than from a prepared curriculum. He/She demonstrates the correct use of materials and carefully monitors the progress of each child.

He/She recognises periods of readiness, encourages a hesitant child and diverts a child who chooses material beyond his/her ability. He/She allows development to continue without unnecessary interference.

Why should I choose a Montessori education for my child?

A Montessori education operates on the basis that all children have an inborn motivation to learn. A natural curiosity and love for knowledge motivates them from within. Therefore the goal of early childhood education in a Montessori classroom is not to fill the child with facts but rather to cultivate his own natural desire to learn.

How are you different from other preschools?

The Montessori classroom is not only a place for individual learning. It is a community of children where the child learns to interact socially in a variety of ways. Within the classroom there is a three-year age range and balanced age and gender mix. Enhanced learning takes place in the interaction between younger and older child. The older child becomes, in a very real sense, an important teaching resource in the classroom, and it is acknowledged that the best way to learn those difficult lessons is to try teaching them to others. With such a variety of levels in the classroom, each child can work at their own pace, unhindered by competition and encouraged by cooperation.

The Montessori materials are attractive, often handcrafted, and are displayed on low accessible shelves. Each piece of material has a specific place and is arranged from simple to the more complex. There is only one of each item, so the child learns to wait to use a piece of equipment, and to return it to its correct place in readiness for the next child to use. The materials and equipment in the Montessori classroom are real, and all tools, crockery, implements and utensils are child sized.

The Montessori materials are tools to stimulate the child into logical thought and discovery. They are provocative, enticing and simple. Each piece of material presents one concept or idea at a time and is self-correcting: if the child has done something incorrectly it will be self-evident. The geometric shape, for example, won’t fit in the hole; the water will spill on the table or the last label will not match the last picture. Being able to see his/ her own mistakes allows the child to work independently

Why do children attend five days a week?

In order to fully participate in all facets of school life, children attend Castlecrag Montessori School five days a week. This allows them to be community members rather than visitors and allows continuity in their work.

Why is the three-year cycle important?

It is important that your child attend the full three-year cycle offered in the Montessori classroom. The Montessori program is carefully planned and sequenced over the three-year period. Socially your child will experience being the younger, middle and older child in the group, which help develop self-esteem in the child as well as respect for others.

The materials take the child from the concrete to the abstract, and the final year enables them to consolidate final skills and application. The areas covered in the Extended Day year meet the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) requirements for the kindergarten year while adhering to the Montessori philosophy to follow the child and foster their potential.

How do Montessori children manage the transition to a “regular” primary school?

A Montessori education develops a love of learning. This provides an excellent foundation for a traditional education. The independence and self-confidence fostered at Montessori help our children transition successfully into any new environment.

Can we continue with a Montessori education in primary school?

Yes, there are Montessori schools in Sydney that offer the 6 to 9 and 9 to 12 program (Montessori primary school program). They include:

Is there a Montessori High School?

The start of something wonderful. . .