Frequently Asked Questions
Which are the different classroom environments at Harmony Montessori and what is the age criteria for admission to each of them?
There are four different classroom environments and each have a different criteria for admission:
The Nido Program: 4 months - 12 months.
The child then starts to transition to the Infant Community classroom.
The Toddler Program: Approximately 14 months to 2.5 years.
The age for entry depends on the ability of the child to walk independently. Usually a child starts to walk comfortably by the age of 14 months. The child in this environment usually starts at approximately 14 months and stays here until he/she is 2.5 - 3 years of age. The transition to the Primary class environment is decided based on the physical and emotional readiness of the child anytime between 2.5 - 3 years.
The Primary Program: The child in the Primary environment starts at approximately 2.5 - 3 years of age and continues until they are approximately 6 - 6.5 years.
The Elementary Program: The child usually starts at approximately 6 - 6.5 years of age , until then are 12 - 13 years old.
At what age does Harmony Montessori admit children and how long do they stay in these classrooms?
We have 4 entry points:
The Nido program - Admission for children between 4 months and 1 year of age, after which the child will transition to our Infant Community around 14 months.
The Toddler program - Admission for children around 14 months, and the child should be walking. They transition to a primary class around 2.5 to 3 years.
The Primary Program - Admission for children between 2.5 to 3 years of age. They can stay in the Primary class until 6 -6.5 years of age.
The Elementary Program - Admission for children around 6 years of age. They stay in the Elementary class until they are 12 to 13 years of age.
How do Montessori classrooms work?
Montessori classrooms provide children the opportunity to work independently and follow their interests. Large, orderly, and open; elementary classrooms have shelves with materials neatly arranged according to various fields of study. Lesson materials and activities are organized and offered based on the educational and developmental needs of the children. Lessons in the form of presentations are delivered by a trained Montessori guide. During the work day, students are given the option of working by themselves or in small groups.
What is a mixed-age class? How does it work?
Montessori classrooms or learning environments can accommodate groups of 20-30 children working together. In an elementary environment children from the ages of 6 through 12 work together in the same class. Older children prove proficient role models for the younger children. While the older children grow and strengthen their leadership skills, the younger ones gain confidence and are able to overcome challenges with the help of their peers.
How many students are in the class? What is the adults (teachers/helpers) student ratio?
The ratio of adults to children maintained in our classroom is in line with the AMI Standards.
We have a maximum of 8 babies in our Nido class, with 2 teachers and a helper, at a 1:3 ratio.
We have 12 to 14 toddlers in the Infant community, with 2 Teachers and a helper at a 1:5 ratio.
We have around 24 children in the Primary class, with 2 teachers and a helper at a 1: 12 ratio.
We have around 24 children in the Elementary class, with 1 teacher and a helper at a 1: 24 ratio.
Do you also include gifted children and children with other special learning needs?
Montessori schools have a mixed ages and a free progress system. This is a great advantage to all the children. Each child works at his or her own pace. Each child is unique and in a Montessori classroom that uniqueness is preserved and aided with stimulation, which supports the child to achieve his or her own highest potential. In a Montessori classroom a differently abled child too benefits, they learn from the adults are respected and is true for students who may need extra guidance and support,
There are many ways in which the Montessori environment can contribute to the developmental, social, and academic success of children with special needs. The materials in the environment, the multi-age grouping, and the focus on peace and cosmic education are just a few examples of core characteristics of Montessori that help all children meet their needs – especially those children who may need additional support.
Montessori classrooms are filled with beautiful hands-on materials that engage all of the senses. Working with the materials provides a wonderful opportunity for children with special needs to use their hands to explore and learn and to develop fine and gross motor skills. Montessori students in the elementary age range are encouraged to follow their own interests when it comes to reading, writing, and research; this kind of freedom allows the special needs child to flourish.
In addition to having the freedom to follow their interests, students are able to work at their own pace in the Montessori classroom. The multi-age environment allows them to do so without worrying about being ahead or behind their peers. This also helps students build confidence and a positive sense of self, which is valuable for all children but may be especially helpful to a child with special needs.
This spirit of inclusion makes it much less likely that a child with special needs will be teased or left out. The students usually make an effort to accept, befriend, and encourage each other, regardless of their differences in abilities or age. Tolerance and patience are virtues we encourage and model with all our students. Celebrating our unique differences and cultivating unity is fundamental for harmony in the Montessori classroom.
In our personal experience, the Montessori classroom is a positive and rewarding environment for all students, including students with special needs.
When they work at their own pace, don’t they lag behind? How will my child adjust to traditional school after being in a Montessori school?
Everyone’s life involves change. And this is actually a good thing, so long as one is equipped with the necessary coping tools and skills. Teaching our children to adjust to change without undue fear and anxiety is one of life’s important lessons. The Montessori Method is all about developing such coping tools through building confidence, independence, and problem solving skills. As a result, most Montessori students are actually more adaptable than their non-Montessori peers.
When we allow the children to actively make a choice of which activity they would like to work with; then their interest in the chosen activity/subject is far greater. The child then tends to work much harder and with greater concentration.
Each child is unique and has varied interests. When they are encouraged to explore what they feel inclined towards, then they manifest their highest potential and clearly exhibit their unique skill sets to further explore and polish.
What does the Montessori curriculum consist of at different levels?
A Montessori education focuses on the holistic development of the individual within a community, nurturing independent, imaginative thinkers, and conscientious citizens of the world.
At the toddler level, the child works with several exercises of practical life - independent eating, dressing/ undressing, toilet learning, food preparation, cleaning, germinating seeds and taking care of their environment. They are also exposed to different Languages (Hindi and English). They absorb the names of different items in their environment through the three period lessons presented. Aspects of Grace & Courtesy, Socialisation, Music & Movement and Art and Craft are also introduced at different stages depending on the readiness of each child. The child is free to explore in the Outdoor play area as well.
The child also works with manipulatives materials to enhance their eye-hand coordination and aid brain development. Use of appropriate materials helps with indirectly enhancing intelligence.
The Montessori curriculum for the 3-6 age group includes everything that is there in their world. Montessori said to give children the “key to the world”. The different areas in the Primary classroom include:
Languages: Reading, writing, basic grammar
Mathematics: Numbers, all four operations- Addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, Fractions, tables up to the squares and cubes of the numbers from 1-10.
Geometry: 2D and 3D shapes.
Geography: Land, water, continents, planets, countries, peoples, flora and fauna of different places, Botany, zoology, science experiments, History of self,
Music and movement, Gymnastics, outdoor play, Art, craft and Food preparation.
The Montessori curriculum at the Elementary level:
Dr. Montessori said we need to expose this age group to the universe - give them the “key to the universe”.
The Montessori curriculum for the Adolescent Program: This is currently in the pipeline. Apart from the international curriculum of IGCSE or IB the adolescent will experience work on a farm, some kind of occupation of their choice at the farm or in Mumbai.
Why do you recommend zero screen time? There are such good programs, which children can learn from.
Children are sensorial learners; they need to engage all their senses and their body in order to learn something. The memory of an experience is far superior to something learnt from a screen. We want them to work with the material and figure out the concepts rather than watching and learning.
They have an absorbent mind up to 6 years of age, their brain is still developing, and we don’t know how the screens will affect their brain in the long run. Many of the brilliant software engineers follow the policy of zero screen time for their own children.
Screen damage their eyes, regular watching of screens can make them hyperactive and there is a possibility of it lowering their concentration, socialisation, and also results in a dip in their self-esteem.
The World Health Organization recommends no screen time for babies under 2 and no more than one hour of screen time a day for those aged 2 to 4. Screens hijack attention spans, curtail the ability to control impulses and, also reduce empathy,
You say you do not test the children, so how do you know that they have understood or are ready to be promoted? Will my child be graded? Do Montessori schools give students tests?
Montessori schools engender and encourage every child’s natural desire to learn. Self-motivated and self-directed learning brings about a more established work-ethic in an individual. Grades, an example of external reward, doesn’t provide a lasting effect on the child with concern to their achievements and efforts.
Even though a Montessori guide does not assign particular grades, they constantly monitor and record each child’s progress within the class. More complex exercises are delivered based on the child’s capabilities, level of understanding, and readiness to take on challenges.
While Montessori programs do not prescribe to standardised tests, the children are constantly being tested within the class. When at work, they test their intellect and ability to persevere and overcome challenges on a daily basis. Testing is a common practice among peers, competition is more a positive and supporting exercise in a Montessori environment.
In a Montessori environment we do not directly test the children but through several hours of observation, we are able to decipher if the child has grasped the concept or not. The child is also not scared to ask for help or another presentation if they didn’t get it the first time. A way to gauge if a child has understood a particular concept in any area, is when we ask the child to present the activity to another child under our supervision.
How does Freedom of choice work in a Montessori class?
When developing the Montessori pedagogy, Dr. Montessori spent days observing children at work. She noticed children more motivated to learn and work on exercises when given the freedom to choose the activity.
Given the freedom to work on the exercise and topic of their choosing, Elementary children begin to establish learning goals and work plans with the guide of the Montessori adult. Goals that the child works towards accomplishing driven by the responsibility of self-choice.
Is the academic readiness of the Montessori children comparable to the children from other systems of education?
The research comparing Montessori students to those in traditional schools suggests that in academic subjects, Montessori students perform as well as or better—academically and socially—than their non-Montessori peers. These benefits have been observed to be further enhanced when children spend more time in a Montessori environment.
The system is built to encourage leadership qualities and strong individuals that are driven to contribute towards their society.
To name a few famous Montessorians:
• Larry Page and Sergey Brin - Founders of Google
• Jeff Bezos- Founder of Amazon
• Prince William and Prince Harry
• Jacqueline B. Kennedy Oasis- Former first lady
• Gabriel Garcia Marquez- Nobel prize winner for literature
• Anne Frank- Author, Diarist from World war 2
• Julia Child- Author, Chef, TV cooking shows.
Do we need to apply for admission to the next level after your primary program?
The Elementary program is conducted by Harmony Montessori International. The primary children will need to apply for admission to the elementary class when the child is approximately four years of age. The admission is given after an interview with the parents.
We do not interview the children.