Montessori FAQ 2017-03-17T11:04:44+00:00

 Montessori & Arbor FAQs

Please find answers to your most frequently asked questions about the Montessori Method of education as well as specific questions about Arbor Montessori School.  Still can’t find the answer to your question?  Contact Liticia Weissinger, Admissions and Outplacement Liasion, at Arbor.

What comes after the Toddler program? 2017-03-17T11:04:49+00:00

Children’s developmental characteristics change as they come to the end of their stay in the Toddler Program.  As levels of personal independence and social readiness grow they transition and continue their growth in the Primary Program (ages 3-6) where the environment supports their natural tendency and enthusiasm for larger concepts and abstract thinking.


Does my child have to attend five days a week? 2013-10-30T19:42:15+00:00

Yes. Children thrive on consistency and order.  Because they don’t have a firm sense of time it is very hard for them to adapt to a three-day-a-week class (for example).  Children who have had a new lesson can’t wait to come back the next day and work on that lesson…it’s hard to maintain a level of enthusiasm and excitement without a five-day week.  In addition, children adapt much more quickly to school when they have a five-day routine.

What are the hours of the Toddler Program? 2017-02-16T14:38:35+00:00

Parents have two options for the five-day-a-week program: either 8:30am to 12 noon or 8:30am to 3:00pm.

What does a typical day look like in a Toddler classroom? 2017-03-17T11:04:50+00:00

The Toddler program daily schedule is both simple and predictable, in keeping with the way children at this age experience the passing of time.  The children come to rely on the order of the day and develop an internal awareness of what comes next.  Just as in other Montessori classrooms, the schedule includes the arrival, a two-hour work period, snack or lunch, followed by the departure.  This consistent schedule is why the toddler community will seldom have off-site outings other than into the garden and schoolyard.

What is the Toddler Curriculum? 2016-02-18T19:17:31+00:00

The Toddler environment is divided into several areas, including gross motor movement, fine motor development, and language skills. The exercises of practical life include care of the environment (both indoor and outdoor), care of self, and refinement of grace and courtesy. All activities are designed to develop coordination and independence, and encourage contributing to the group, which leads to increased self-esteem.

Both Dr. Montessori’s observations and today’s brain imaging show that the young child’s brain has enormous potential and promise. Within their first six years, children develop from having no verbal language to fluency in their native language.  The toddler environment supports this tremendous growth through the use of language nomenclature cards, books and spoken vocabulary enrichment exercises.

What is the advantage of a mixed-age classroom? 2013-10-30T19:40:29+00:00

As is experienced in every Montessori classroom, mixed ages allows the children to work with others who are older and younger than themselves. The older students serve as role models and tutors for the younger students, and in the process they gain confidence in their own abilities and self-esteem regarding their skill level and expertise.

This format allows all older children to be the leaders of the classroom community – even those children who may be shy or quiet. The younger ones watch the older ones, and in the process they gain a clear vision of what’s expected of them, and have the benefit of working with and learning from their peers as well as the teacher. The classroom community is a direct preparation for life in the family and in the workplace. Communicating and working well with others are important life skills.

At what age can my child enter the Toddler Program? 2016-08-16T16:05:46+00:00

The Toddler program is designed for children ages 18 months to three years.  We accept applications for children who will be between 18 months and 3 years as of September 1.

What is the student-teacher ratio in the Toddler classrooms? 2017-03-17T11:04:50+00:00

The classroom has a maximum of 12 children supported by an AMI trained teacher and assistant.

What is a Toddler Program? 2017-03-17T11:04:50+00:00

The Toddler Program takes advantage of the toddler’s natural drive to act independently. In a small group of 12 children, the toddlers can learn from and help each other under the careful guidance of a trained teacher and assistant. The environment, as in all Montessori classes, is carefully prepared for these children; all furnishings and materials meet the needs of the young child.  Art is hung at child level on the walls and shelves make materials easy to reach. Activities in the classroom foster independence and support speech, language and motor development.  In an environment that offers such appropriately sized challenges, children are given opportunities to explore their independence and connection to the world using their extraordinary capacity for learning.

What is Montessori? 2017-03-17T11:04:50+00:00

It is a comprehensive educational approach from birth to adulthood based on the observation of children’s needs and natural learning tendencies specific to their age and plane of development.  It is individual learning in a collaborative environment. The children are guided by teachers who are specifically trained to observe and put the child in touch with exactly what he or she needs at that very moment to learn.  The Montessori education cultivates concentration, motivation, self-discipline, a love of learning and innate creativity.

Montessori children learn at their own pace, under the careful guidance of a teacher who knows each child very well, as children remain in the same classroom with the same teachers throughout each program (toddler, preschool, and elementary). This familiarity allows the student and the teacher to collaborate in the learning process, giving the child a sense of empowerment and self-reliance that he or she will carry into further education and into life.

What is the difference between Montessori and traditional education? 2017-03-17T11:04:50+00:00

For children six and under, Montessori emphasizes learning through all five senses, not just through listening, watching, or reading. Children in Montessori classes learn at their own, individual pace and according to their own choice of activities from hundreds of possibilities. They are not required to sit and listen to a teacher talk to them as a group, but are engaged in individual or group activities of their own, with materials that have been introduced to them 1:1 by the teacher who knows what each child is ready to do. Learning is an exciting process of discovery, leading to concentration, motivation, self-discipline, and a love of learning.

Above age six, children learn to do independent research; arrange field trips to gather information; interview specialists; create group presentation, dramas, art exhibits, musical productions, science projects, and so forth. There is no limit to what they can create in this environment of intelligently guided freedom of choice. There is great respect for the choices of the children, but they easily keep up with or surpass what they would be doing in a more traditional setting. There is no wasted time and children enjoy their work and study.  After the teacher connects them with a lesson, much of the learning that follows comes from sharing and inspiring each other instead of competing with each other.

Are Montessori schools religious? 2017-03-17T11:04:50+00:00

The Montessori pedagogy educates children without reference to religious denomination.   Some Montessori schools are affiliated with a religion.  Arbor Montessori is secular and therefore our classrooms are extremely diverse, with representation from all peoples, cultures and religions.

What is the teacher-child ratio in a Primary or Elementary Classroom? 2017-03-17T11:04:51+00:00

The ratio is 1 teacher per 15 children.  This is because the Montessori approach focuses on independence.  Independent activity accounts for 80% of the work, while the other 20% is teacher-guided.  Materials are self-correcting so that once a student has a lesson from the teacher on a particular area, he can work independently to problem-solve.  The teachers are always available for consultation and comprehensive follow-up. This independence fosters self-discipline, initiative and responsibility. The older children in the class often help the younger students with their work. This builds confidence in the older child as well as allowing for an internalization of the knowledge and solidification of skills necessary to move through to the next work.  By seeing what older children have mastered, younger children experience encouragement and connectedness to where their own work can lead them. It’s also important to note that in a traditional classroom students are given group instruction whereas in a Montessori classroom children are given one-on-one instruction.


What is the advantage of having a three-year age span (multi-age) in the classroom? 2017-03-17T11:04:51+00:00

Multi-age classrooms afford teachers the luxury of adapting the curriculum to the individual child. Each child can work at his or her own pace, while remaining in community with his or her peers. A three-year age span in the classroom allows children the opportunity to use a wide range of engaging materials that keep them challenged to learn. As the child’s interests change, the range of available materials allows the child to move from one level of complexity to another.

Children work with others who are older and younger than themselves. The older students serve as role models and tutors for the younger students, and in the process they gain confidence in their own abilities and self-esteem regarding their skill level and expertise.

This format allows all older children to be the leaders of the classroom community – even those children who may be shy or quiet. The younger ones watch the older ones, and in the process they gain a clear vision of what’s expected of them, and have the benefit of working with and learning from their peers as well as the teacher. The classroom community is a direct preparation for life in the family and in the workplace. Communicating and working well with others are important life skills.

Who accredits Montessori schools? 2017-03-17T11:04:51+00:00

Dr. Montessori founded the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) in 1929 to preserve her legacy. AMI ensures that Montessori schools and teachers are both well-grounded in the basic principles of the method and ready to carry those principles forward in the modern educational world. AMI offers teacher training and conferences, approves the production of Montessori materials and books and, through their AMI-USA branch office, accredits schools.  Arbor Montessori is also accredited by SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools) and SAIS (Southern Association of Independent Schools).   The school is a member of AAAIS (Atlanta Area Association of Independent Schools) and many of the teachers are members of NAMTA (North American Montessori Teachers Association).


If children are free to choose their own work, how do you ensure that they receive a well-rounded education? 2017-03-17T11:04:51+00:00

Montessori children are free to choose within limits, and have only as much freedom as they can handle with appropriate responsibility. The teacher creates daily and weekly lesson plans and tracks every lesson for each child. She maintains detailed individualized records of each child’s progress. The teacher connects the child with the curriculum and then tracks their progress to ensure that every child masters their appropriate level and element of the curriculum.

Montessori classrooms don’t look like regular classrooms. Where are the rows of desks? Where is the teacher’s desk? 2017-03-17T11:04:51+00:00

The different arrangement of a Montessori classroom mirrors the Montessori Method’s differences from traditional education. Rather than putting the teacher at the focal point of the class, with children dependent on her for information and activity, the classroom design showcases the child-centered approach. Children work at tables or on floor mats where they can spread out their materials, and the teacher circulates about the room, giving lessons or resolving issues as they arise.  The teacher’s “desk” is shaped as a semi-circle.  This configuration allows for small groups of students to learn at the teacher’s desk.


Why are the materials in the classroom so different? 2017-03-17T11:04:51+00:00

The materials are designed to invite activity: the colors and manipulative shapes pique a child’s curiosity.  Each material in a Primary classroom isolates one quality (such as size, color, form).  In Elementary, the materials expand in variety and complexity mirroring the child’s intellectual growth and curiosity.  From Primary through the Adolescent Program, materials build on each other as well as relate to each other so that the child has a universal learning experience.

Why don’t you have homework in the primary or elementary programs? 2017-03-17T11:04:52+00:00

Our belief is that the “homework” of the primary and elementary-age child is defined as the activities that he does within his family and his community.  Once the school day is over, the child should experience everything that provides self-enrichment and helps develop the skills necessary to live a life independent and fulfilled.

In traditional schools, the goal of homework is to teach independent work skills.  At Montessori, independent work skills are learned in the classroom. In addition, in a traditional school, the teacher often relies on homework to determine how a child is performing. In a Montessori school the teacher spends much of her time observing and tracking each student’s progress so she know exactly where he or she is academically.

Homework, in the more traditional sense, begins when a student enters the Adolescent Program. Independent and group projects serve to extend the lessons within the classroom. Regular assignments and deadlines help prepare the student for life beyond their educational experience here.  

Why don’t you have tests? 2017-03-17T11:04:54+00:00

A Montessori classroom uses observation as a means of gauging student progress. Within the work are “tests” or controls that help the teacher in seeing precisely what the student has mastered and what knowledge is still needed to move forward. A real-life example of mastery is obtained and applied to working through the Montessori curriculum. Montessori teachers teach their students for three years so they have an in-depth knowledge of each child’s progress. They know their students and their knowledge so well that a written test is not necessary.  The emphasis in a Montessori class is on intrinsic vs. extrinsic learning. 

Learning based on intrinsic motivation (self-motivation,pride) is much more successful that extrinsic motivation (rewards, punishment praise).

Why don’t you have grades? 2017-03-17T11:04:54+00:00

Traditional grades provide a quantitative evaluation of a child’s work. Grading creates an environment of winners and losers, undermining the spirit of cooperation and community. Research indicates that grading actually reduces creativity, as students aim for work that will be safe and acceptable to the adult. And therein lies a third powerful reason not to use traditional grades: the children begin to work to please the adult rather than themselves; to work for the extrinsic rather than the intrinsic reward. For these reasons, Arbor does not “grade” children.

Since Montessori classrooms emphasize non-competitiveness, how are students adequately prepared for real-life competition later on? 2017-03-17T11:04:54+00:00

Montessori classrooms emphasize competition with oneself: self-monitoring, self-correction, initiative and a variety of other executive skills aimed at continuous improvement. Students typically become comfortable with their strengths and learn how to address their weaknesses. In older classes, students commonly participate in competitive activities with clear “winners” (auditions for limited theatrical roles, sports activities) in which students give their best performances while simultaneously encouraging peers to do the same. It is a healthy competition in which all contenders are content that they did their best in an environment with clear and consistent rules.

How do Montessori students transition into more traditional schools? 2013-10-04T01:21:09+00:00

Our students have the wonderful experience of a smooth transition, whether they choose a public or private school. It is recommended that the transition points are at the completion of each three-year cycle. It is our hope that each student who begins at primary will complete the full breadth of Arbor’s program. We help with the transition to area high schools and other schools as a supportive part of the school environment here. Happily, the habits and skills a child develops in a Montessori class last a lifetime and stand a child in good stead no matter where they go.

Are Montessori schools as academically rigorous as traditional schools? 2013-09-30T23:17:36+00:00

Absolutely. Montessori classrooms encourage deep learning of the concepts behind academic skills rather than rote practice of abstract techniques. The success of our students appears in the experiences of our alumni, who compete successfully with traditionally educated students in a variety of high schools and universities. At Arbor, our curriculum far exceeds the requirements of the national standards. (Include link to graph of alignment to national standards.)


How does Montessori use technology/computers in the classroom and in the curriculum? 2017-03-17T11:04:54+00:00

We do not introduce computers into the classroom until the child is 12 years old. Not because Montessori schools don’t believe in technology, but because the young child learns best through experience in the concrete, tactile reality of the three-dimensional world rather than through two-dimensional simulation of an electronic, virtual reality. Consider the child’s experience of a cube. Does she learn more by seeing a flat, screen image of a cube (actually a two-dimensional hexagon), or by lifting a polished wooden block that measures 10 cm on each side and weighs 50 grams? Montessori materials are our technology.

Students in Upper Elementary learn how to type using a typing program on a keyboard.  Students in the Adolescent Program have access to computers for research and for producing final work products.



Why do you have age restrictions for new children to enter the Primary program? 2016-09-02T16:13:45+00:00

The first stage of development, what Maria Montessori called “the conscious absorbent mind,” begins at age 3.  Therefore we set our age limit at 4 years, 4 months for Primary enrollment because these children are already half-way through that plane of development.  Starting at four years, children begin to lose interest in many of the practical life areas of the Primary education.  Those practical life lessons help build a child’s small motor skills, concentration and improve their tactile ability.  Those skills are important for the next stages of the Montessori education.  After four years, four months it is harder for a child to integrate into the Montessori program and be successful.

Does my primary child have to attend school five days a week? 2013-10-04T01:19:32+00:00

Yes. Children thrive on consistency and order.  Because they don’t have a firm sense of time it is very hard for them to adapt to a three-day-a-week class (for example).  Children who have had a new lesson can’t wait to come back the next day and work on that lesson…it’s hard to maintain a level of enthusiasm and excitement without a five-day week.  In addition, children adapt much more quickly to school when they have a five-day routine.

Since your program runs August – June, what options do parents have for their children in the summer? 2017-02-22T10:07:49+00:00

We do offer five weeks of summer camp for our students ages 2-4 years. Many of our parents hire a nanny in the summer or share a nanny with other parents.  They also coordinate group playdates and schedule their childrens’ attendance at the same camps so they can share carpool.  Children 5 years and older have many options for summer camps in the Atlanta area.

What is the difference between the full-day and all-day program? 2017-02-16T14:44:15+00:00

The all-day program is geared toward parents who require childcare after the traditional school day ends.  The all-day class provides the convenience of having the child in the same environment all day long instead of hiring a nanny or placing the child in another after-school program. The all-day program runs from 7:30am-6:00pm.

The full-day program runs 8:30am to 3:00pm (Lavista) or 8:45am to 3:15pm (Scott). Parents can also choose the half-day program (8:30am to 11:30am at Lavista and 8:45am to 11:45am at Scott) for children under the age of five years.  Once a Primary program child turns five, they are ready to stay for the entire school day.

Many working parents do chose the traditional school day and have a caregiver pick up their child after the half-day or full-day ends at 3pm instead of enrolling in the all-day program.


Do you have an after-school program? How old must my child be to participate? 2013-10-04T01:34:55+00:00

Arbor’s after-school program is called Enrichment.  Enrichment is open to children ages five and older.  The program is based at the LaVista campus and runs 3pm-6pm.

Do you have sports teams? 2013-10-04T01:35:02+00:00

Yes, starting in fifth grade, students may participate on a sport team.  Offerings include cross-country, track and basketball.  The students compete against Atlanta area private schools.

We also offer soccer, karate and the Arbor Running Club to younger students as before or after-school extracurricular activities.

Do you have after-school extracurricular activities? 2013-10-04T01:35:07+00:00

Yes, we offer children grades 1-6 a variety of activities including drama, chess, Lego robotics, karate, soccer, art and music.

Do I have a choice of the Scott or LaVista campus for my primary child? 2016-08-16T16:07:38+00:00

You may request a preference for a campus and we will take your request into consideration and try to accommodate you.  However, placement of the children is also based on the needs of the classrooms.  Since the classrooms are multi-age, we need to have a balance of ages and genders.  For example, we may have a classroom that needs another four- year-old boy and another where we need more three-year-olds.

What is the tuition? 2017-03-17T11:04:54+00:00

Tuition will be published in January along with the tuition for the other levels. Please review our Tuition page for more details.

Does Arbor offer financial aid? 2017-03-17T11:04:55+00:00

Arbor offers financial aid so that we may enroll and retain students who could not otherwise afford to attend. Arbor admits students of any race, color, national or ethnic origin, religion, family structure or sexual orientation to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities of the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, religion, family structure or sexual orientation in the administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs and athletic and other school administered programs. Arbor’s financial aid funds are reserved for families who have no alternative to requesting assistance. To be eligible for consideration for financial aid, applicants must complete the on-line process through School and Student Services (SSS), an independent organization sponsored by the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS). Based on the financial information provided on the Parents’ Financial Statement (PFS) and other required

forms and tax returns, SSS calculates and verifies the amount the family is able to contribute to tuition. Late or incomplete applications for financial aid cannot be processed. Financial aid packets are available in our office or you may visit for more information. The deadline for financial aid is February 20.


Do you accept transfer students from non-Montessori schools? 2016-09-02T16:15:13+00:00

Yes, we accept transfer students from non-Montessori schools in our Toddler and Primary programs on a case-by-case basis and also into our Adolescent Program (grades 7 & 8).  To transfer into our Elementary program, students must be currently attending a Montessori school.

Where do Arbor Montessori student matriculate for high school? For college? 2016-08-16T16:12:16+00:00

Arbor students go anywhere. Approximately 50% of Arbor graduates enroll in private high school while the other half chose a public school experience. Students often have their choice of schools and are supported in the transition.  Our students experience much success in whatever environment they choose.

Our graduates attend a variety of college and universities, both public and private.