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Summit Montessori School

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Admissions FAQ's (Frequently Asked Questions)

Why do you suggest a five day-a-week program for children at Summit?

The Montessori pedagogy maintains that consistency is incredibly important, particularly while the child is in a sensitive period for order.  A five day program allows the children to gain a sense of consistency and predictability, the ability to build trust, and an opportunity to develop relationships with the adults and peers in the classroom.

Why do you group different age children in the same class?

Maria Montessori believed that having mixed-age grouping in a classroom provided important opportunities for students to share experiences, learn collaboratively, and mentor one another.  Summit students have a range of abilities and interests that make the classrooms dynamic and exciting places to learn.  Students come to know each other like family, supporting one another when needed and celebrating triumphs together.  One parent shared, “This is a fantastic way to encourage a child to be a mentor to their peers while at the same time giving them the confidence they often need to complete a task themselves.” Since only one third of the students are new to a classroom each year, returning students are role models beginning in the fall; the older students enjoy welcoming new classmates to their community.

I have heard that Montessori classrooms have no structure, is that true?

Montessori classrooms have an inherent structure that the prepared environment provides.  Our teachers work very hard to establish child-centered classrooms that allow students to make choices throughout the day. In addition to teaching the basics, our teachers help students understand themselves as learners, pursue their own interests, work at their own pace, and choose challenging work.  The sequenced curriculum in practical life, sensorial, mathematics, language and cultural subjects offers each child a broad range of concepts to discover, explore, and master.  Our curriculum is developmental; we embrace the fact that children learn in different ways and at different times.  Our teachers observe their students and present relevant work when each child is most ready. 

Elementary students use a weekly work plan to help them develop organization and time management skills.  The work plan provides an outline of required tasks, but the students choose the order in which they accomplish those tasks.  The work plan gives students a chance to make independent work choices and research their own individual areas of interest.  At the elementary level, teachers use the individual work plans to ensure that students acquire essential skills while allowing for individual passions. Using their individual work plans, students share what they have learned with their peers, thereby teaching one another. 

How can Montessori teachers meet the needs of so many different children?

Our teachers are trained to be astute observers and to make curricular decisions based on the individual child and his/her interests.  In Beginners and Children’s House, teachers give lessons on a one-to-one basis.  Since teachers have students for three years, they come to know their students’ personalities, strengths and challenges.  This level of knowledge allows teachers to create a curriculum plan that is specific to each child and give each child the gift of time to master important skills and tasks.

Elementary students are in a new plane of development, and their curiosity and imagination are ignited by the world around them. They are ready to tackle big questions and big ideas, and to work collaboratively in new groups. 

Is there testing done at Summit Montessori?

Assessment is an ongoing process in a Montessori classroom.  Children show mastery of materials in various ways: making presentations, teaching other students, and answering the questions their peers or teachers ask.  Teachers formally assess students individually in reading, spelling and writing.  Students in third through sixth grades take standardized tests (called ERBs) in the spring of each year.  Montessori students approach new tasks with highly developed skills and confidence; our experience is that the students in Montessori programs overall have excellent results on standardized tests. 

 

Since there are no letter grades given, how will I know my child is progressing?

Summit holds parent-teacher conferences twice a year. At this time parents and teachers share their goals, their observations, and an understanding of the strengths and challenges of each student.  Since the child is in the same class for three years, a true partnership develops between the families and the teaching teams.  Families also receive an extensive progress report twice yearly.  In addition, our teachers are happy to schedule additional conference time by phone or in person, as needed. 

Is there homework?

Children in Lower and Upper Elementary do have homework assignments.  In Lower Elementary homework comes home once a week and families are encouraged to help their child establish a plan for completing the homework over the course of a week.  Some homework involves specific skills the child needs to practice; other homework may involve completing an activity that the student started in class. 

In the Upper Elementary, homework varies as students take on additional project work.  Homework may involve creating a PowerPoint for students in class research or completing a lengthy class assignment at home.  Teachers may assign individualized practice for areas such as math facts, spelling or Spanish, as needed, usually in conjunction with the parents.  Upper Elementary students are expected to read a minimum of 30 minutes each night, and record their reading in their daily planners. There are times when Upper Elementary teachers may assign homework designed to support a specific area of study and may require a written response. 

How do teachers communicate with families?

Teachers in the Beginners and Children’s House classrooms email a classroom newsletter each week.  Newsletters from the Lower Elementary and Upper Elementary classrooms are biweekly.  All levels share many wonderful pictures of the students at work and describe group lessons and activities that are happening in the classrooms. 

Summit teachers are happy to share information via email, by phone, or by periodically sending a photo of a student to his/her family. 

Are there field trips or opportunities for children to learn outside the classroom?

Children’s House students have a field trip in the fall.  Throughout the year, other enrichment programs come to Summit.  Elementary students have multiple opportunities to go into the community and take field trips during school year.

Do the children spend time outdoors?

Beginners and Children’s House students have outdoor play time from 11 to 12 each day.  Teachers regularly provide opportunities for gardening, nature walks and outdoor journaling. 

Elementary students have an extended outdoor time after lunch.  They also enjoy gardening, nature studies and science activities outside on Summit’s developing NatureScape.

Are there opportunities for families get involved at Summit?

We encourage all families to get involved at school; it enhances the experience for all.  We have a very active Summit Montessori Parents’ Association (SMPA) which plans and hosts many wonderful family events throughout the year.  Parents may also help teachers by chaperoning field trips, making materials and presenting to the class.  Summit also has a number of school-wide committees on which parents may serve.  And finally, our Board of Trustees is comprised of volunteers – current parents, alumni parents, and friends from the greater community. 

What role does technology play at Summit?

Technology plays a role in everyone’s life today, not only in the tools we use but in the way in which we interact with the world.  Students in the Beginners and Children’s House are just starting to think about the world around them, and do so in a creative way.  These students are learning to use scientific materials such as magnifying glasses and binoculars.  They are learning to observe the environment around them.  They do simple experiments, create hypotheses and record their findings.

In the elementary years, students are introduced to a more formal scientific method.  They learn to write lab reports and to use computers for a variety of activities.  Students of this age come to school already skilled in some technologies; they work at their own pace to add to their technical repertoires.  Peer-to-peer teaching happens frequently as our students show a classmate how to create a graph or build a spreadsheet.

Summit’s technology task force is currently investigating how to integrate additional tools and materials into the already rich Montessori curriculum.