Commonly Asked Questions
Q. What's the difference between Montessori Preschool & Childcare ?
A. Childcare is primarily set up to ensure the care of children. They aim to provide a safe environment where children are entertained, often with activities, crafts and exercises, until they can be picked up.
Indirectly, childcare providers work to implement a curriculum. With our Preschool however, the primary role is to offer children a safe environment in which to learn, with a direct emphasis placed on education.
Q. What is the purpose of a Montessori Preschool?
A. The primary aim is to assist the total development of the child's personality (social, emotional, intellectual and physical), so the child is better prepared to adapt to life and to adjust to the changing conditions of their environment.
Q. Isn't a Montessori Preschool primarily concerned with intellectual development?
A. No. The Preschool is interested in the child's total well being which, when accomplished, better equips the child for intellectual development.
Q. Why should a three to six year old be in a Montessori Preschool rather than at home?
A. Between these ages the child is ready to embrace a wider range of experiences. The Montessori environment provides experiences that help the child to develop further understanding of the world and their culture. The environment is especially prepared to meet the needs of the child of this age.
Q. The children work individually so where do they learn to socialise?
A. In going about their daily activities in the classroom, the children meet and talk with one another, discuss common problems, correct each other's mistakes, answer questions, borrow and lend, and help each other in many ways. Moreover, they often spontaneously form into groups to carry out a task together, and the older children are usually eager to help out their younger friends. There are many meaningful social situations that the children can engage.
Q. Don't the children have too much freedom and not enough discipline?
A. Freedom is not undisciplined, unruly or selfish behaviour. Two basic rules guide the children's "freedom" in a Montessori classroom: they may not misuse materials and they may not disturb other children. They are free to move about and to select materials that interest them (provided they have developed to the point of being ready for them), and they are free to use the materials as long as they wish (and they need to return the materials to their place once finished). This is also known as freedom within limits.
Q. Does a set way of doing things stifle creativity?
A. What is creativity? It may be considered to be a re-ordering of knowledge and of one's environment in a different and meaningful way. In order to do this, a person must have an understanding of their environment, the sensorial and other materials in the Montessori classroom to provide this. The primary intent of Montessori is to help in the most creative way possible, in shaping the child toward the type of adult they will become. With confidence and knowledge, creativity flourishes from the child.
Q. Why mixed age groups in a Montessori classroom?
A. In the Montessori classroom, children are given the opportunity to choose from a wide variety of graded materials allowing them to grow as their interests lead them from one level of complexity to another. By having children of mixed ages, it gives the younger children a graded series of models for imitation as well as giving the older children the opportunity to reinforce their knowledge by helping the younger ones. Broader educational fields recognise the value of mixed ages in catering to children's needs that was pioneered by Maria Montessori 100 years ago.
Q. Why is a Montessori classroom non-competitive?
A. Each child works according to their ability and interest, so competition is not relevant.
Q. Isn't Montessori for "bright" children?
A. No. The Montessori approach is concerned with the development of the child as an individual - mentally, physically, emotionally and socially - all children will benefit.
Q. Children often repeat the same activity over and over again. Why?
A. The child derives pleasure from repetition because it answers one of the basic needs of humans: the desire to gain mastery over movements, to refine and perfect them.
Q. Will my child have difficulty adjusting to school after attending a Montessori Preschool?
A. Generally, if the child has developed all aspects of his personality, they should have far less problems than a child without a Montessori background. Most Montessori children adapt well and after a brief period of transition, they settle well. Dr. Montessori used the phrase 'education for life' which indicated her commitment to the child's total development and not to a body of knowledge or skills.
Q. How can I continue my child's Montessori education after they leave Preschool?
A. Once the child has finished the three year Montessori program, you can move them to a school that offers the cycle 2 program which caters for 6-9 year olds and cycle 3 for 9-12 year olds. Our school does not currently operate those programs. Please refer to the MAF website for a list of schools in your area www.montessori.org.au. The third year of the Montessori program is generally equivalent to the Victorian Prep year. We advise discussing your child's primary school entry level with the Directress and the principal of the school the child will attend.
Q. What is the difference between a Montessori Directress and a Teacher?
A. Montessori education is centred on the child, with the Montessori Directress guiding rather than teaching. They are facilitators in the process of learning. The Montessori Directress presents the information to the child in a climate of mutual respect. By following and observing the child the Montessori Directress can recognise and respond to each child's individual needs. Development of self-esteem, tolerance, acceptance, mutual respect and concern for others are traits that are nurtured in this environment. Rather than standing in front of the class and telling children what is planned, the Directress allows each child to choose an activity that suits their current individual requirement.
Q. When can my child start at Preschool?
A. Children must be 3 years of age to commence preschool. We prefer children to start as close to their third birthday as possible to gain from the critical sensitive period for the love of order that occurs during their third year of life.
Children turning three years of age before 30th June will only be offered a position to commence in that year. Where children turn three after 30th June, parents may decide to defer the offer until the following year, and wait for a place later in the year should a vacancy arise.
Q. When will I find out if my child has a place?
A. Offers are made usually during Term 3 for the following year. If you are on the waiting list you will be contacted to see if you are still seeking a place. Offers are made in order of date of registration. We do give priority to siblings. Please ensure you update us if there are any changes to your contact details.
Q. What do you mean by "paying to hold a place"?
A. Term fees must be paid to secure a place until the child can start, i.e. if a place is offered to a child whose birthday falls before the end of June, fees must be paid
from the beginning of the school year in order to hold the position open. Once a child has been offered a place they may start as soon after they turn 3 as possible.
Where the position filled is a late vacancy, fees will be pro-rated from the due date of the bond payment. Parents may opt not to pay to hold a place, but to wait in case one becomes vacant during the year.
Q. What is the bond?
A. The bond is a term's fees payable on acceptance of an offer of a place in our program. It is refunded when the child has completed their two or three year program. Early withdrawal from the program will result in the bond being forfeited.
Q. What happens if I don't get a place in the first round of offers?
A. Your child's name will remain on the waiting list until they are past the age cut off date. If a place becomes available during the school year an offer will be made to the next eligible child on the waiting list in order of the date of registration. We find this does happen throughout the year as family circumstances change.
Q. Do siblings get priority?
A. Yes. Offers are made first to siblings, then to the remaining children on the waiting list
Q. What happens if I don't complete my 2 or 3 year commitment?
A. Your bond will not be refunded.
Q. Is it possible to claim the Child Care Subsidy?
A. Yes our service is classified as Centre Based Care, upon enrollment we will collect all the required details to enable the subsidy to offset your fees.
Q. I don't meet the activity requirements of the Child Care Subsidy, can I still get a rebate on fees?
A. Yes our program is considered a Preschool service within a Centre Based Care environment. Eligible parents can claim up to 36 hours per fortnight against their fees. See https://www.education.gov.au/child-care-subsidy-activity-test-0 for more details.
Q. Can my child do a third year if they are not ready for school?
A. Yes, there may be times when places are available for children who have completed two years to enrol for a third year. Please note that based on your eligibility you may not be able to claim a rebate against the Child Care Subsidy or be eligible for an additional year of kindergarten funding.