What is the origin of Montessori education?
Montessori education was founded in 1907 by Dr. Maria Montessori. Dr. Montessori based her educational methods on scientific observation of children’s learning processes. Guided by her discovery that children teach themselves, Dr. Montessori designed a “prepared environment” in which children could freely choose from a number of developmentally appropriate activities. Now, nearly a century after Maria Montessori’s first casa dei bambini (“children’s house”) in Rome, Montessori education is found all over the world, spanning ages from birth to adolescence.
I thought Montessori children play all day. How do Montessori students learn?
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 engaged in individual or group activities of their own, with materials that have been introduced to them individually by the teacher who knows what each child is ready to do. Learning is an exciting process of discovery, leading to increased concentration, motivation, self-discipline, and a love of learning.
Above age 6 children learn to do independent research, arrange field trips to gather information, interview specialists, create group presentations, dramas, art exhibits, musical productions, science projects, and more. There is no limit to what they can create in this kind of intelligently guided freedom. There are no textbooks and few adult-directed group lessons and daily schedules. 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. The children often assist each other and much of the learning comes from sharing and inspiring each other instead of competition against others. This process teaches a sense of responsibility that is incorporated early in the learning process for every student at Fort Collins Montessori School.
Isn’t Montessori school only for preschoolers?
Montessori schools may be best known for their programs with young children, but the underlying educational method describes programs for students through high school.
When was Fort Collins Montessori School (FCMS) founded?
Fort Collins Montessori School opened its doors in August 2014. Currently, Fort Collins Montessori School enrolls children ages 3-6 at its Primary campus, located at 1709 W. Elizabeth St. The Elementary campus, located at 1900 S. Taft Hill Rd, currently educates children from grades 1-6. Fort Collins Montessori School has plans to add one grade level per year through the 2020-2021 school year and will ultimately educate students through middle school.
How does Fort Collins Montessori School contribute to the overall local community?
An alternative to traditional education, Montessori children thrive academically, socially, cognitively, and emotionally making them engaged citizens. The focus on nature and service learning encourages students to be lifelong stewards of the environment and society.
Does Fort Collins Montessori School have trained teachers?
Our Montessori teachers are Association Montessori Internationale trained for their level of Montessori teaching. This training is in addition to their regular Bachelor’s or Master’s degree. The training takes a full academic year with several weeks of additional classroom observation and student teaching, and requires passing an exam on all aspects of Montessori theory and pedagogy.
How is Fort Collins Montessori School funded?
Poudre School District charter schools, including Fort Collins Montessori School, receive per-pupil funding from the local school district. However, charter schools receive far less support from the district for facilities. The school must make up the funding difference on its own. Fort Collins Montessori School cannot grow to its full potential without donations from parents, foundations and other supporters. Fort Collins Montessori is currently engaged in an extensive fundraising effort to realize its goal of a beautiful facility of its own for its students and teachers. If you or someone you know is interested in sharing their time, resources or a financial gift with FCMS, please call (970) 631-8612 or donate now at http://focomontessori.org/donate-to-fcms/. All gifts, no matter how great or small, are investments in the future of the school.
What’s the long term benefit to having a Montessori education?
Montessori children have advanced social cognition from having been part of a community that cares for both its physical and social classroom environment. The freedom of movement exercised in a Montessori environment results in the development of the mind and increased executive functioning. “Freedom within limits” enhances creativity and self-discipline. Neuropsychologist Steven J. Hughes says that Montessori children are, simply put, “good at doing things.”
Why do the class sizes at Fort Collins Montessori School seem so large?
Many schools take pride in having very small classes, and parents often wonder why Montessori classes are so much larger. Montessori classes commonly group together twenty-five to thirty children covering a three-year age span. Schools that place children together into small groups assume that the teacher is the source of instruction, a very limited resource. They reason that as the number of children decreases, the time that teachers have to spend with each child increases. Ideally, they would have a one-on-one tutorial situation.
In a Montessori classroom, the larger class size encourages independence and resourcefulness in the child. Children also seek out peers to work with, encouraging strong community-building at a very young age. By consciously bringing children together in larger multi-age class groups where two-thirds of the children normally return each year, the school environment promotes continuity and the development of a stable learning community.
How do teachers engage with each child in the classroom?
The teacher’s primary role in a Montessori classroom is to prepare and maintain the physical, intellectual, and social/emotional environment within which the children will work. A key aspect of this is the provision of intriguing and developmentally appropriate learning activities to meet the needs and interests of each child in the class.
Montessori teachers usually present lessons individually or to small groups of children at one time and limit lessons to brief and very clear presentations. The goal is to give the children just enough to capture their attention and spark their interest, intriguing them enough that they will continue to work on their own with the learning materials.
Montessori teachers closely monitor student progress. Because they normally work with each child for two or three years, teachers get to know their students’ strengths and weaknesses, interests, and personalities extremely well. Montessori teachers often use the children’s interests to enrich the curriculum and provide alternate avenues for accomplishment and success.
Is there anyone I might know who went to a Montessori school?
Montessori students often go on to become great thinkers. Famous Montessori students include Google founders Larry Page and Sergei Brin, actor George Clooney, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, humanitarian HM Queen Noor of Jordan, singers Taylor Swift and Beyonce Knowles, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, chef Julia Childs, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, Sims creator Will Wright, author Helen Keller, and rapper Sean “P. Diddy” Combs.
Are all Montessori schools alike?
No, Montessori schools vary widely because the name “Montessori” is in the public domain. This means that anyone wishing to use the name “Montessori” for their school may do so. The best way to insure that a program is faithfully incorporating the Montessori approach as developed by Maria Montessori is to ask if the school is affiliated with AMI.
What do children do in a Montessori program?
There are several different, yet integrated, areas of learning in a Montessori classroom: practical life skills, sensorial development, language, mathematics, history, science, and cultural studies (geography, art, music). In addition to the available materials in each area, children might also take time out during the day to sing songs, read a story, or enjoy nature.
Children have both individual and group lessons in each area. Throughout the day, children are free to work with the activities. Emphasis is placed on helping children choose pursuits that are of interest to them, thus supporting the child’s natural curiosity and desire to learn. At the elementary (6-12 years) level, you can also expect to see children working together on projects, since collaboration at this age helps the child to become socially adapted to society and aware of the needs of others.
What you won’t see in a genuine Montessori program are systems of rewards and punishments to promote work or control behavior. There will be no lost recess, gold stars, or grades. In a Montessori class, children are engaged, active, and respectful because they are internally motivated, spending their time in an environment that consistently supports development of their will — that is, positive willpower and self-control.
What is the advantage of having a three-year age span in the classroom?
Children have a wide range of experiences, skills, abilities, and interests. 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.
Additionally, children have the opportunity to be learners and teachers simultaneously. This allows a child to experience the joy of providing leadership to those who are younger and the satisfaction of receiving useful assistance from those who are older or more skilled. It is a win-win for all the children in a Montessori classroom.
How is discipline handled in a Montessori classroom?
It is the development of self-discipline that is encouraged and valued. By maintaining a carefully prepared, structured environment that encourages exploration, creativity, and choice within clear boundaries, the child learns self-control and problem-solving skills that foster independence and responsibility. In this setting, discipline is viewed as a maturation process that evolves, supported by guidance from the teacher. With gentle, prudent assistance, children eventually become comfortable and equipped to accept the consequences of their own behavior. Skilled AMI-trained teachers use Montessori materials and activities to promote a classroom atmosphere that reinforces personal discipline and harmony by offering each child the opportunity to gain a sense of direction, confidence, cooperation, and self-control.
Why is there such a non-competitive atmosphere in Montessori programs when we live in such a competitive world?
In a Montessori program, children are on their own journey at their own pace toward maturity, acquisition of skills, and incorporation of knowledge. Therefore the emphasis is on assisting and supporting children to develop and learn based on their own interests, desires, and timing. Attention is also paid to promoting collaborative social and educational relationships that enhance learning through shared ideas and insights.
Using systems of rewards in the classroom distracts a child’s personal journey by intentionally directing his or her attention to the progress of other children. Ultimately, many studies have shown that competition inspired through the environment does little to build confidence or strengthen internal motivation and self-direction over the long-term. There certainly are situations where competitive activities can move children to greater efforts and improved skills, but as Maria Montessori stated, “The prize and the punishment are incentives towards unnatural or forced effort, and therefore we certainly cannot speak of the natural development of the child in connection with them.”
Do children have difficulty transitioning to a public school after going to a Montessori school?
Moving from a Montessori school to another school setting is an issue often raised by parents and family members. 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. Montessori children tend to be adaptable, working well alone or with a group. They have solid decision-making skills, practical problem solving abilities, and generally manage their time well. Since children in a Montessori classroom are also encouraged to share ideas and discuss their work, fitting into new situations is made easier thanks to good communication skills.
How do I apply?
Please visit our Enrollment page for more information.
What are my chances of getting in?
It depends on the age of your child. Preschooler and Kindergarten spots are usually where openings occur. Enrollment at these levels can occur during the school year if a spot is available. There are wait lists for some spots, depending on full versus half day openings and age of children. After the enrollment period, there is a lottery held if there are more new enrollment requests received than spots to fill. This lottery determines who may get in and the wait list should spots open up.
For the elementary classes, if an opening occurs and you are on the waitlist you may be contacted for that spot. Preference is for these children to have Montessori experience, but contact the school office for inquiries.
Why do you fundraise?
As a public charter school, the only funding the school district is required to provide is the money for the basic necessities of the actual teaching. This does not include funding growth, facility, teacher trainings, physical education?, low-income tuition/fee assistance, etc. Historically, the State has provided 20% less per charter student than what a typical public school receives for their students. This is about $1,400 less per student. BUT on top of this, the State of Colorado funds public schools over $2,700 less per student compared to the national average. Which ends up totaling over $4,000 per student less than the average public school in the average state. For comparison, if this were a private Montessori in Colorado the average tuition would be $14,000 per year per student. However, FCMS is here in lovely Fort Collins, Colorado providing this education experience as a public charter school.
Are your teachers still required to get annual enrichment classes like other PSD teachers?
Yes. However, this additional funding is not included in the school district funding.
Where can I find the calendar and days off?
This can be found on the FCMS website under Calendar. It closely follows the Poudre School District calendar, but may not be exact. Please verify.
Allergens? Are they the same for each class or campus?
Montessori’s discipline and order gives it an advantage for those students who suffer from allergies. Each classroom is sent a list at the beginning of the year with any allergies in the class. If children bring these allergens to school, they must request an allergen card, which alerts the teacher.
Does FCMS still have to do standardized testing?
Yes, children in Montessori programs are required to meet state regulations. It is the responsibility of the teacher to insure students are prepared to take tests. Download a recently published study on testing outcomes for Montessori students.
Families may opt out if they prefer, but testing is a way to monitor children’s progress and ensure the school is fulfilling it’s requirements. You may call the office or Head of School to discuss any questions you may have.
When will you have your own school facility?
This is entirely dependant on the amount of funding the school can secure and what is available on the market once those funds for a down payment are saved.
Are you associated with the church?
No. FCMS simply rents space from these churches. As a public charter school, there is no assistance from the school district in finding a permanent or temporary facility. These churches have been kind enough to share their space with us over the school year.
When do the children get to interact with each other?
Montessori children are constantly interacting with each other throughout the day. There is some work available for a partner or group of people, but even when they are working independently, the children often interact with one another as they pass by, ask for assistance, or observe another child’s work.
Why is there only a 30 minute recess?
A 30 minutes recess allows the children to still complete two 3-hour work periods. Their work periods consist of regular movement around the classroom and interacting with others appropriately. Add this to the 30 minutes formal recess and the children cycle between regular movement, rest, and physical exercise.
Why can’t I walk my child to the classroom?
When a parent says their goodbyes at the door and that child passes people they are familiar with the school it sets up their day by starting with a confidence builder. By choosing to go to school and that you, the parent, are confident enough that they can do this, they work through their own trepidations quickly and ready to get into the pattern of putting their things away and get into their routine work cycle. This repetition sets the child up for later success in work, but also in confidence that they can choose to be self-sufficient beings.
What is a charter school?
Charter schools are unique public schools that are allowed the freedom to be more innovative while being held accountable for advancing student achievement.
- Charter schools are public schools
- Charter schools do not charge tuition for full-day kindergarten through high school
- Charter schools do not have special entrance requirements
- Charter schools are bound by federal and state public school laws
- Charter schools do not discriminate
- Charter schools accept students with disabilities and/or special needs
- Charter schools do not teach religion
Why don’t you offer 2 or 3 day a week preschool classes? Why ½ or full day and 5 days a week for PreK/K?
Montessori is difficult to implement when it isn’t fortified daily. The routine establishes consistent expectations of the work, but also of the social aspects. By children getting regular interactions with the guides and the other children, that’s when the magic happen. Having a child going to Montessori infrequently cannot fully bring about the benefits of Montessori.
How can I learn more about Montessori before my kid starts?
Absolutely! The FCMS website is full of information-check out the FCMS Montessori Research page. There are also a number of associations out there like: Association Montessori Internationale, Colorado Montessori Association, etc.
Why do applications have to be MAILED in?
Applications need to be date stamped by the post office. This is the way we need to track which applications were sent timely. There is no exception.
Do I have to fill out the school of choice form?
Yes, when you initially apply, this form needs to be filled out. Enrollment information and forms can be found here.
What does the Parent Volunteer Committee do?
The Parent Volunteer Committee (PVC) at Fort Collins Montessori School (FCMS) is a standing sub committee of the school board and is comprised of caregiver volunteers. Primary PVC functions include:
- Coordinating parent volunteers*
- Raising funds to support initiatives related to staff appreciation and community building
- Supporting strategic initiatives set by the board and school staff
What committees are working with the school?
There are a number of committees working on various school issues. Please see the Committee webpage.
For applications, who to make the check out to?
Please make the check out to Fort Collins Montessori School and put ‘application fee’ in the subject line.
How to report attendance?
If your child is sick prior to the school day, please send an email to teacher and the office explaining who is out and a brief general description of what’s going on, so if there is a communicable issue, the school can notify any other required parents/classes or district if necessary.
If your child is feeling sick during they day, they can tell their teacher and a call will made to the numbers on file. If the child has not vomited nor ran a fever over 100, then the child can wait it out, but if these have occurred, a guardian needs to come and take the child home. The child is not permitted return until the child has been fever/diarrhea/vomit free for 24 hours without medicine.
Does the school provide lunches?
No, the school has some financial assistance available for qualifying low-income families but due to renting space at two different shared facilities, the licensing requirements for serving food cannot be met with the state health department.
Can I sign-up to volunteer?
Yes! There are many ways to contribute your time. Each classroom has needs that you can volunteer to bring in, volunteering with a committee or event, or if you complete the volunteer training and background check you may be able to drive for elementary goings-out or cover desk, hall, or recess coverage occasionally at one of the locations when needed. Please call or email the office for more information.
Do I have to renew volunteer info each year?
No, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation will notify the school if any renewals are required. But the school may need to know that you are available for this new school year as well.
Please let us know if you have any other questions by calling (970) 631-8612 or emailing [email protected].