At which age (or age range) does Montessori have the most impact compared to a traditional education?
The sensitive periods for learning take place mostly between birth and age 6. In this time the sensitive period for language and order take place as well as others. For example, the sensitive period for language is a time when the human brain absorbs information quickly and effortlessly. An example would be learning another language. From birth to 6 a child can absorb his/her native as well as another language and speak without an accent. After age 6 there is an accent and acquiring the language takes place in another part of the brain. I would recommend the early childhood years if one could only choose to have their child in Montessori for a few years. I would put the ages 3 to 6 as a premium time. This stage is also when the children work with the Montessori hands-on materials and learn by discovery. As they get older they begin to abstract and need the materials less and less. The older students also shine with the authentic and cross curricular format in Montessori but if you have to choose, the ages 3-6 would be the most important.
I have children that did public school, and even magnet school. Neither of which impressed me. Then there are private schools that cost too much….I want a school that teaches not based off of FCAT, but the basics…but also has structure in the classroom. Where does Montessori come in? How does it compare to the other choices? As home schooling is seeming better every day…
Private school tuition is a consideration which each family has to evaluate the affordability. I feel that it is better to budget for the early years and let the child decide when she/she gets to college age determine whether he/she will work through college or get a scholarship as a young adult.
As far as the FCAT, Millhopper Montessori does not administer the FCAT. Once a year we administer the ITBS to serve several purposes. One is to have the students and their parents have a “norm” rating that shows how the children compare with millions of others their age. Another purpose is to give the students experience with testing in that format with the heavy emphasis on multiple choice questions. The third reason is to provide testing strategies as a practical life experience in following directions, being timed, process of elimination, for example. We do not promote or retain students based on the test results. We do use the information regarding trends in the results to help evaluate curriculum and retention of information. I find the tests to be very easy for the students and their scores and stanines are quite high. Many of the questions do not evaluate all they know. For example, on the 4th grade math computation they have questions of adding fractions with like denominators. This is a skill that they learn in first and second grade and it first appears on a 4th grade test.
The Montessori curriculum has a scope and sequence which allows for flexible pacing while mastering the basics. However, there are grade level expectations and small group instruction which comes into play at different grade levels.
How does a Montessori education help my child learn how to adapt in mainstream environments?
Montessori teaches the children to problem solve in many different ways. When they go to other schools they are very adaptable because they have learned many ways to solve problems and a variety of formats.
Are charter schools still required state to complete FSA testing?
Some charter schools may choose to have a Montessori base. Millhopper Montessori is not a charter school. We are an independent school accredited by the Florida Council of Independent Schools (FCIS) and the Florida Kindergarten Council (FKC) as well as Affiliated with the American Montessori Society (AMS).
How does Montessori work with the individual needs of a child who is dyslexic? Or is this an appropriate school for children with a learning disability?
Montessori works well for many children with a variety of learning disabilities. We have dyslexic students as well as ADD, etc. We are careful to not have children who are disruptive to the learning of others. Some disabilities such as some with ADHD may find it a distracting environment with so many students working on different tasks. Because the Montessori curriculum is visual, auditory, and kinesthetic it can teach to many different learning styles. The use of one-on-one instruction and low student to teacher ratios is also advantageous to learning differences.
How I can find the just right challenge for my child, where my child is challenged, and maybe frustrated a little, but learns the skills of mental toughness and perseverance?
I would recommend coming to the school and observing the classes. I think you will see this in action. Observing schools is very beneficial and Gainesville has a lot from which to choose.
How can I help my child identify and develop his/her gifts and strengths and use them to benefit education processes?
Montessori teaches from whole to part as well as blending visual, kinesthetic and auditory formats. I find, for example, if a child is visual, then learning something new and different should be presented with a strong visual component. If there is a weaker or less developed area, there should be activities which will strengthen these however a weak modality should not be what is used when learning something new and difficult. I find that identifying with which modality a child leads is a good way to teach him/her HOW they learn and will help them identify their strengths. I also have a test called The Structure of the Intellect (SOI) which identifies even more precise strengths and combinations. For example, if a child is strong in visual discrimination and weak in classification, a good activity would be a collection, such as shells. This would afford the child the opportunity to lead with his/her well-developed visual discrimination skill while strengthening the weaker classification skill, all while doing something fun and engaging.