FAQs

Does Montessori suit all children?

The Montessori Method suits all children but it doesn’t suit all parents. Montessori classrooms have stronger and more lasting effects when their principles are mirrored in the home. For this reason, all newly enrolling parents at MIC are required to complete the Ultimate Montessori Parents’ Guide online course to help them develop their understanding of the developmental needs of their child. There are some other wonderful online resources which explain the proven benefits of Montessori. A good place to start is the Montessori Australia website.

How is a Montessori classroom different from a traditional one?

There are many aspects to the Montessori difference. Fundamentally, the goal of Montessori is to nurture independent, joyful learners by educating the whole child, while the core aim of traditional education is the transfer of curriculum content. For more detail on the differences please see our section Montessori Education vs Traditional Education.

Why are there multi-age classrooms?

Authentic Montessori classrooms always have children grouped into three to four year age spans based on Dr. Montessori’s research on the stages of child development. MIC has multiage classrooms with children aged from three to six years, six to nine years, nine to twelve years, twelve to fifteen years, and fifteen to eighteen years.

This three-year multiage grouping is the core feature that energizes or makes possible the other important features of Montessori classrooms: choice of activity, personal connection, and collaborative learning. (See the graphic of the Montessori Solar System.) The multiage structure allows older children to validate their learning by becoming the ‘experts’ in the room. Peer teaching can occur with the older children sharing their knowledge and skills and taking on the role of the caretakers of the classroom. It is these older children that provide the role model for younger children. The youngest three year-olds have a group of willing people ready to help them when help is required. Younger children receive preliminary introductions to future lessons as they watch older children work nearby with the next steps in the progression of materials.

“The main thing is that the groups should contain different ages, because it has great influence on the cultural development of the child. This is obtained by the relations of the children among themselves. You cannot imagine how well a young child learns from an older child; how patient the older child is with the difficulties of the younger.” (Maria Montessori, The Child, Society and the World).

This video further explains the graphic.

graphic

What is the Montessori approach to homework?

In traditional primary schools, homework is generally needed to gauge whether a child has understood a particular lesson. This is necessary when a teacher gives a lesson to twenty or thirty students at a time from the front of the room and so is unable to assess each individual’s level of understanding or attention.

In contrast, our guides work with children individually or in small groups using Montessori materials that are designed to be self-correcting. Moreover each child is in their Montessori classroom for three (sometimes four) years, so Montessori guides know their students much better than teachers in traditional classrooms. These factors combine to allow Montessori teachers to intimately grasp each child’s individual understanding and to know what is needed to motivate them. Traditional homework and standardized tests are blunt instruments which are generally unnecessary in the Montessori system.

Home work, in the Montessori sense, is work that the child does at home as an extension of his or her own interests. Learning experiences at home should emerge from the interests and abilities of each child and the family. Activities may be offered but should ideally be chosen by the child and tailored to suit their interests and needs. They may need the assistance of a parent or sibling at first. This kind of homework can be organized into three categories: experiences (e.g. reading, visiting a museum or going to see a play); skills (e.g. riding a bicycle, cooking, playing an instrument or sewing); and products to be shared (e.g. a letter or story, art work, or plants grown in the garden).

Children might reinforce academic skills at home by reading to a younger sibling, keeping a journal, writing postcards or emails to friends or relatives, and using a monthly allowance to buy things for themselves when accompanying parents on shopping trips. But they can also develop literacy and math skills by reading comics or children’s magazines, playing board games like Monopoly, working on crosswords and hidden search puzzles, collecting coins, learning carpentry, keeping a scrapbook of newspaper articles on an issue that interests them, writing letters to public servants requesting improvements to playground facilities or earning money for walking neighbors’ dogs. Just as in the classroom, activities that capture a child’s interest are more likely to inspire them to persist. Daydreaming and nature play are worthwhile activities too!

Preparing the child’s home environment can remove frustrations that may overwhelm their organizational skills. Once an activity is chosen, ensure that all the materials they need are organized for easy access and that they know how to clean up when they’re finished.

Even in secondary school, homework is only assigned when it’s a practical, purposeful and productive addition to what was learnt in classes during the day. It is never assigned without a specific goal in mind.

Is Montessori good for gifted children?

From a Montessori perspective every child is a unique individual with his or her own gifts and challenges. All children develop at different rates, so placing them in single-age classrooms and expecting them to be ready for the same concepts simply because they are the same age overemphasizes and pathologizes natural differences. This unnatural learning environment leads to the common tendency to label children as either “gifted” or “learning challenged.”

In a Montessori multiage classroom children are allowed their natural variations within the three or four year age grouping. A lesson on subtraction, for example, might be attended by children of different ages who are nevertheless ready for the same concepts. An advantage of the Montessori approach is that each child can make the most of their unique attributes. Multi-age classrooms with students of varying abilities and interests allow each child to work at his or her own pace.

Montessori students learn to recognize that everyone has their own gifts and their own challenges; that someone who is “gifted” in math may not necessarily be as advanced in other areas. Students whose strengths and interests propel them to higher levels of learning can find intellectual challenge without being separated from their peers. The same is true for students who may need extra guidance and support: each can progress through the curriculum at his own comfortable pace, without feeling pressure to catch up.

Is Montessori good for children who are not yet peaceful, and may need extra help?

The Montessori environment is ideal for children who are not yet peaceful since the emphasis is on the individual with skills and concepts being presented through individual lessons within a social environment. However, the priority is always to get the balance right in each class so every child has the best possible opportunity to make the most of their abilities. Decisions will always be made on a case by case basis to ensure that balance is maintained.

The multiage groupings present a wide array of skills and behaviours which allows for each child to be accepted and respected. The guides are familiar with working and liaising with external specialists either during or after school hours. Supplementary numeracy and literacy programs are integrated into the school day for individual students who need extra assistance and the class guides liaise with parents and specialists should any learning difficulties be suspected.

What is the Montessori approach to assessment and reporting?

In traditional schools, retention of material is measured primarily with regular standardized testing and grading. This method of assessment is given after-the-fact as a seal on what the student has (or hasn’t) learned. It is known as summative assessment as it purports to show the sum of a child’s learning. The structure of traditional classrooms further limits assessment. Teachers have students, all of the same age, for only one year, limiting their time horizon. And typically the teacher is the only source of feedback.

Montessori classrooms avoid these limitations. Assessment is mainly formative, meant to guide the child during learning. It occurs in the context of a longer time horizon. And it enables the child to learn from her peers or directly from the world. Activities are open-ended, encouraging exploration and creative thinking, and as such do not lend themselves to grading.

In a Montessori classroom feedback is given partially by the teacher, but mostly through the child’s direct experience with materials and peers. Most materials have a control of error that allows the child to know whether they have used the material accurately without waiting for a teacher. Younger children can also receive help from older children who have been in the classroom longer.

The multiage classroom promotes familiarity and trust among a community of learners that includes children and adults. Returning students have an institutional memory of classroom procedures and rituals, and their daily management of many aspects of the classroom frees adults to teach individually and to carefully observe each child’s progress. Such personalized assessment provides more nuanced information than most forms of testing can reveal.

Primary children take ownership of their own progress through their daily work journal, weekly individual conferences with their teacher, by requesting specific lessons as the need arises, and by maintaining portfolios of work completed. These materials, and detailed daily observations of each child by the teacher, form the basis of reporting to parents.

Not only is comparative reporting often misleading for parents, and a cause of unwarranted anxiety, it is discouraging for students who score “poorly”, detrimental to both their self-esteem and their willingness to persist, as well as potentially negative for those who do “well’ by encouraging the valuing of high scores over the inherent satisfaction of learning.

Students in the Adolescent and Senior Phase program use the national curriculum (although it is delivered in a different way than you would find in a mainstream school) and they can undertake OP subjects and are graded accordingly. But other paths to university have been created, and the International Baccalaureate will be introduced to the College in the next couple of years.

Montessori International FAQs

What is Montessori International College’s approach to assessment and reporting?

In traditional schools, retention of material is measured primarily with regular standardized testing and grading. This method of assessment is given after-the-fact as a seal on what the student has (or hasn’t) learned. It is known as summative assessment as it purports to show the sum of a child’s learning. The structure of traditional classrooms further limits assessment. Teachers have students, all of the same age, for only one year, limiting their time horizon. And typically the teacher is the only source of feedback.

Montessori classrooms avoid these limitations. Assessment is mainly formative, meant to guide the child during learning. It occurs in the context of a longer time horizon. And it enables the child to learn from her peers or directly from the world. Activities are open-ended, encouraging exploration and creative thinking, and as such do not lend themselves to grading.

In a Montessori classroom feedback is given partially by the teacher, but mostly through the child’s direct experience with materials and peers. Most materials have a control of error that allows the child to know whether they have used the material accurately without waiting for a teacher. Younger children can also receive help from older children who have been in the classroom longer.

The multiage classroom promotes familiarity and trust among a community of learners that includes children and adults. Returning students have an institutional memory of classroom procedures and rituals, and their daily management of many aspects of the classroom frees adults to teach individually and to carefully observe each child’s progress. Such personalized assessment provides more nuanced information than most forms of testing can reveal.

Primary children take ownership of their own progress through their daily work journal, weekly individual conferences with their teacher, by requesting specific lessons as the need arises, and by maintaining portfolios of work completed. These materials, and detailed daily observations of each child by the teacher, form the basis of reporting to parents.

Not only is comparative reporting often misleading for parents, and a cause of unwarranted anxiety, it is discouraging for students who score “poorly”, detrimental to both their self-esteem and their willingness to persist, as well as potentially negative for those who do “well’ by encouraging the valuing of high scores over the inherent satisfaction of learning.

Students in the Adolescent and Senior Phase program use the national curriculum (although it is delivered in a different way than you would find in a mainstream school) and they can undertake OP subjects and are graded accordingly. But other paths to university have been created, and the International Baccalaureate will be introduced to the College in the next couple of years.

Why is there no uniform?

Montessori International College respects individuality – and what you wear is often a reflection of your individuality. Independence is also highly valued in MIC, and choosing appropriate clothing – which later becomes your personal style – is one of the ways to practise making decisions for yourself. Uniforms tend to obliterate individual differences and create the illusion that students’ membership of a school community is more important than their individuality.

Do the children do any sports at school?

Although Montessori schools are non-competitive, the playing of sport and non-competitive games is encouraged.  There is a programme for all children with regards to gross motor development. Initially the students are taught developmentally appropriate skills which include activities involving movement and hand/eye co-ordination. These skills are built upon and in primary there is often a specific time each week for non-competitive games and skill development. Our aim is on the acquisition of skills, however emphasis is also placed on being a member of a team. There is a non-competitive element to all sports during these lessons.

Does the MIC curriculum include study of a second language?

Yes. Montessori International College is a big believer in children learning languages other than English. Children start learning Mandarin at three with the help of a dedicated Mandarin teacher – and those lessons can continue until students graduate.

Early Years FAQs

What is the importance of starting at 3 years old and experiencing the Early Years environment?

Maria Montessori said learning between three and six years old (the Absorbent Period) takes place spontaneously without effort, leading children to enter Junior Primary with a clear, concrete sense of many abstract concepts. Montessori helps children to become self-motivated, self-disciplined, and to retain the sense of curiosity that so many children lose along the way in traditional classrooms. They tend to act with care and respect toward their environment and each other. They are able to work at their own pace and ability. The three-year Montessori experience tends to nurture a joy of learning that prepares them for further challenges.

Do pre-primary children attend every day?

When starting some three year-olds begin with half days on a few days a week, but it’s not long before they are ready to do more and want to do more. We offer a part-time (2 and 3 day) program for Early Years (ages 3-6) which runs alongside the fulltime program (5 days a week).

Please email us at enrolments@montessori.qld.edu.au if you’re interested in finding out more.

JUNIOR PRIMARY FAQs

What do the children do each day in the Junior Primary environment? What is the curriculum?

Montessori International College follows the national curriculum, but it’s delivered in a Montessori way – with purpose and meaning.

In the Junior Primary School (Years 1 to 3), learning is centred on the unique needs of children between the ages of 6 and 9. Our teachers serve as guides for the children’s explorations as they acquire skills, pursue interests, and develop their unique potential. Ignited by the materials and lessons, these children use their imagination and reasoning minds to widely and deeply explore the universe. The Great Lessons offer inspiration and open doors to new areas of investigation.

You walk into a room of our Junior Primary children and you stand in wonder as you observe the social dynamics of children working productively in a busy environment.  One child is quietly concentrating on the checkerboard to learn long multiplication, nearby two others are resolving a conflict at the peace table, while another small group is planning a ‘going out’ to the planetarium relating to their recent study of the solar system.  The variety of subject matter being explored is interconnected and feeds the individual needs of the child as a whole.

This is a normal day in a Montessori Junior Primary classroom.

The morning opens with each child using their personal diary to plan and organise their day.  They can choose to repeat a given presentation, request a new lesson or make new learning discoveries.  There is a continuous flow of children moving within and outside of the classroom. They are given the freedom to do yoga, garden or jump rope in the outdoor environment in order to develop deep concentration in their work.

The drawing of a map of South America becomes a study of the continent; a child becomes interested in the customs and culture of Brazil and digs deeper until she discovers the Amazon forest and the nearly extinct Golden Lion Tamarin Monkey.  She is so excited she can’t wait to share her knowledge with her classmates and prepares a presentation on her discoveries.  In our classrooms children turn real-life experiences into ideas and concepts, so they can make sense of the world they live in. It’s hands-on learning.

Our children discuss, scrutinize, question, unearth, make friends, play, resolve conflicts, and grow.

It’s Schooling Reimagined.

What are the Great Lessons?

Dr. Montessori and others developed the Great Lessons as an introduction to all topics, providing a ‘big picture’ to demonstrate how the sciences, art, history, language, geography are interrelated. Through the Five Great Lessons, children become aware that the universe evolved over billions of years, and that it is based on particular laws that order the ways in which all the plants, animals, and the rest of creation is maintained.

The Five Great Lessons are traditionally presented in early primary (6-9 years) using impressionistic stories, and are presented every year so that children see them more than once. Unlike the 3-6 environment, where the child is introduced first to “small” ideas that gradually widen into larger concepts, the primary child is introduced right away to large concepts – the largest of all being the beginning of the universe. With this ‘big picture’ in mind, junior primary children have a larger framework on which to hang smaller ideas as they discover them in their independent research.

There are Five Great Lessons that are used to paint a broad picture before moving to more specific study:

First Great Lesson: the Coming of the Universe and the Earth

Second Great Lesson: the Coming of Life on Earth 

Third Great Lesson: the Coming of Human Beings 

Fourth Great Lesson: the Development of Written Language

Fifth Great Lesson: the Development of Number Systems and Mathematics

Do MIC students do the NAPLAN testing? How well do MIC students do on the NAPLAN?

Yes.  Montessori schools participate in NAPLAN to comply with regulatory requirements and children sit the tests as another classroom (practical life) activity. Most educators agree that the NAPLAN tests are a snapshot on a particular day rather than an assessment of the total development of the child. Montessori schools focus on the total development of the child – physical, social, emotional, intellectual and spiritual. The NAPLAN results only focus on numeracy and literacy and as such cannot provide a comprehensive measure of a school’s effectiveness.

SENIOR PRIMARY FAQs

What do the children do each day in the Senior Primary environment? What is the curriculum?

Montessori International College follows the national curriculum, but it’s delivered in a Montessori way – with purpose and meaning.

In the Senior Primary School (Years 4 to 6), learning experiences lead children from a comprehension of the concrete to an understanding of the abstract. Learning spaces provide maximum opportunity for the children to learn from and with each other. Skill acquisition at this stage of development supports the child as they weigh options, examine contradictory evidence, tolerate differences of opinion, and make connections among different learning concepts and personal experience. These children are avid consumers of knowledge and deliberate critics of logic.

You walk into a room of our Senior Primary children and the first thing you notice is the dynamic learning space with open shelves, abundant with Montessori materials. This is not a silent space, rather, there is a hum of activity as children discuss and collaborate on their work. One child is quietly illustrating a finished project, nearby two others are working on the cubing of a three digit number using the wooden cubing material, which teaches them to analyse and question in a mathematical way, while another small group sits on the floor – working together to try and figure out how to organise their most recent fundraising event.

This is a normal day in a Montessori International College Senior Primary classroom.

The morning opens with each student using their diary to plan their day. Following this, they organise themselves into group or individual work, depending on their preference. You will see mathematical materials being used, grammar materials laid out, small numbers of children huddled in the library where they pour over books for research, others venturing out for a guided bushwalk, and a child playing the ukulele on the deck while another writes lyrics.

A question about cyclones and local weather patterns becomes a focus of study on the impact of weather on the college campus. A flood marker is constructed out of wood, painted and dug into the ground at a nearby creek. Regular monitoring of rainfall and changing creek levels follows, and at the end of the term, a presentation of their findings is given to their peers. They are now more deeply connected with their local environment through this initial study of global weather patterns.

In our classrooms children turn real-life experiences into ideas and concepts, so they can make sense of the world they live in. It’s hands-on learning.

Our children discuss, scrutinize, question, unearth, make friends, play, resolve conflicts, and grow.

It’s Schooling Reimagined.

How well do MIC students do on the NAPLAN? Do MIC students do the NAPLAN testing?

Yes.  Montessori schools participate in NAPLAN to comply with regulatory requirements and children sit the tests as another classroom (practical life) activity. Most educators agree that the NAPLAN tests are a snapshot on a particular day rather than an assessment of the total development of the child. Montessori schools focus on the total development of the child – physical, social, emotional, intellectual and spiritual. The NAPLAN results only focus on numeracy and literacy and as such cannot provide a comprehensive measure of a school’s effectiveness.

SENIOR PHASE FAQs

What do the children do each day in the Senior Phase program? What is the curriculum?

Montessori International College delivers the National Curriculum, but in a totally Montessori way – with purpose and meaning. We prepare our students for adulthood so that they can lead happy and purposeful lives, which fulfill their aspirations and which contribute to making the world a beautiful, just and peaceful place. This is achieved by meeting the psychological, social and physical needs of the adolescent through a prepared environment which encourages meaningful work, life experience and a love of learning.

Year 10 is a preparation year for the International Baccalaureate Career-related Program which is studied in Year 11 and Year 12.

Is the IB Career-related Program (IBCP) the same as the IB Diploma Program (IBDP)?

The IB Career-related Program (IBCP) and the IB Diploma Program (IBDP) are two separate and different courses.

The IB Diploma Program aims to develop students who have excellent breadth and depth of knowledge – students who flourish physically, intellectually, emotionally and ethically.

The IB Career-related Program incorporates the values of the IB into a unique, international, real-world and career focused program that addresses the needs of students interested in career-related education.

As the IBCP includes IBDP academic subjects, Career-related Program students benefit from the theoretical and academic rigour of the Diploma Program, which is also supported by the practical, real-world approaches to learning of their career-related studies. Students also develop the skills and competencies required for lifelong learning from the IBCP core subjects.

Does the IBCP provide a pathway to university?

The IBCP is an internationally recognised qualification that is recognised by universities overseas as providing a pathway to university.

Montessori International College (MIC) also has a Memorandum of Understanding with University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) which means that graduating MIC students gain direct entry to USC upon recommendation by the college.

MIC is also currently working with a number of other major Australian universities to determine direct university entrance pathways as the IBCP is not currently eligible for an Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank. Contact the IB Coordinator at MIC if you have any questions on the specific pathway for other Australian universities.

I’ve heard the IBCP is very difficult – is that true?

The IB has an international reputation as being academically rigorous which is why it is held in such high esteem by universities and employers around the world.

At MIC all IBCP students are well supported as they study subjects that are tailored around their interests and passions. Every student has a mentor/supervisor for every subject and our small class sizes allow us to take an individual approach to each child throughout the two years of their IBCP studies.

Are their additional costs associated with studying the IBCP at MIC?

No, for most senior students at MIC there aren’t any additional costs associated with studying the IBCP – our tuition fees are already all-inclusive and the college is absorbing any IB costs. However, there may be a circumstance where a student chooses a high number of high-cost external courses as part of their studies. MIC reserves the right to pass on some of these costs to families, however this would be considered on a case-by-case basis. Visit the fees page of our website for more information on fees.

Do I need to meet a minimum achievement level in Year 10 to study the IBCP?

It is expected that Year 10 students will achieve a passing grade in all subjects to study the IBCP in Year 11 and Year 12.

For more information check out the IB Admissions Policy or contact our IB Coordinator.

I’m already half way through Year 11/Year 12 at my current school – can I still study the IBCP at MIC?

The IBCP is a two-year program that is studied by students in Year 11 and Year 12 at MIC. Our entry point to the IBCP is Year 10 so that we have the opportunity to work with students and their families to build a personalised IB Career-Related Program for Years 11 and 12. Therefore we are unable to accept students who are already in Year 11 or Year 12 at another school.

Will MIC consider offering the IB Diploma Program in addition to the IB Career-related Program?

Yes, MIC will be giving consideration to offering the IB Diploma Program in addition to the IB Career-related Program in the near future. However, our current priority is to establish the IB Career-related Program at MIC and ensure a smooth transition to the IB for both current and incoming senior phase students.

Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.