1. Is the montessori pedagogy practice strict discipline?
Curiosity and joy while learning are the fundamentals in Montessori preschools. By using strict discipline, joy and curiosity will disappear.

The environment is prepared in order to make it safe, predictable and a good place to concentrate and discover new and exciting things. To achieve this environment there are a set of simple rules for the child.

As far as possible the interior is adapted to the children’s height or size.

Maria Montessori focused on the inner discipline rather than the discipline imposed upon a child by adults. To achieve an inner discipline within the child, it is important to give the child the opportunity to choose the activity he finds interesting and meaningful. When a child is allowed to work with something he finds interesting, we often observe that he becomes calm, safe and happy while working hard. The teachers’ main role is to inspire the child to find a suitable activitiy, thereby stimulating concentration.

2. Why are there no ordinary toys in a Montessori Preschool?
If it is possible to achieve the same goal with ordinary toys as with the Montessori material, we will include them. The material is not the most important, but the process within the child when managing challenging tasks that are optimal for him, and the feeling of pride afterwards.

Most children have a variety of toys at home. We believe that children benefit from experiencing other activities and challenges in the preschool than those they experience at home.

What is most important about the Montessori materials is not the skills the children learn from them, but the interest, joy and pride they show when working with and mastering them.

3. Do we observe role-play in a Montessori preschool?
Role-play is a kind of fantasy game. Children observe adults’ roles and activities and imitate them when playing. In a Montessori preschool we often observe role-play among children – especially during out-door times. Many adults provide environments for different kinds of role-play such as a dollhouse with a play-stove and food items made of plastic. In a Montessori preschool, children get the opportunity to try out these activities for real. Montessori Knerten preschool has a fully functional child-sized kitchen where children can cook and prepare the food they eat. If they would like to use the iron, there is also a real iron – just smaller.

These adaptations have been made because children show great joy and pride in taking part in these activities for real. It is important to note that children have to learn how to use the equipment correctly before they are allowed to use it, and there is always adult supervision.

4. Does reading and mathematics belong in a preschool?
Whether reading and mathematics belong in a preschool depends on the way children learn the subject. The Montessori materials together with the Montessori method give the child the opportunity to play its way through the activities. Learning is almost done subconsciously at the beginning and when a child has “cracked the code” of a certain task they often want to continue the activity repeatedly. If you ask children in a Montessori preschool who taught them reading or writing, they often answer that they have learned it by themselves. This mirrors part of the secret behind the materials and the way teachers demonstrate it to the child.

Teachers often observe an increased interest for symbols in children around 3-4 years of age. The child is then in a sensitive period for symbols and this is the main reason why numbers and letters are part of the Montessori standard material. Nevertheless, activities are never forced upon children and whether or not a child learns letters and numbers is determined by whether they are interested or not.

5. Does Montessori preschool fit any child?
Every child is unique. Since children are different, they also have different needs. The goal in the Montessori pedagogy is to help each child develop its full potential – not make them reach goals set by others. By focusing on the individual child, Montessori is a suitable pedagogy for any child unlike preschools that focus on group activities.

6. Does the Montessori pedagogy give children too much freedom?
Are they allowed to do whatever they want?

The Montessori pedagogy gives children great freedom. Most children enjoy this freedom and it is essential for the child to discover his interests and abilities; this allows the child to develop at his own pace. In order for this to work, rules must be established around the child so that he finds the environment predictable and safe. Freedom will be limited if a child violates it and acts in a disturbing and destructive way. If a child is not able to handle the freedom he will be watched closely and followed up by teachers.

7. Is the Montessori pedagogy linked to any religion?
No, the Montessori pedagogy does not have a religious foundation but is rather an alternative teaching method.

8. Is it possible for the child to sleep and use diapers in the Montessori preschool?
Yes, we meet the child at its own developmental level. Children at different developmental levels have different needs, physically as well as mentally, that need to be fulfilled.

9. Is it possible for parents to buy Montessori materials and use at home?
It is possible for everyone to buy Montessori materials, so the question is rather whether this is a good idea. The equipment does not come with a manual and it may be difficult to understand how to present it to a child in order to capture her interest and continue using the material on her own.

There might also be different ways to use the equipment that are based on the teachers’ observations.

Last but not least – the Montessori materials are quite expensive and may be too expensive to set aside if the child doesn’t show interest.

10. Why do teachers in Montessori preschools use the term “work” instead of “play” when referring to the child’s activities in the preschool?
Maria Montessori was concerned about taking children seriously and that their activities were just as important as adults’ work. For an adult a child’s activities might be perceived as play – or in some cases meaningless potter – but it is in fact serious work for the child. Through their work children build their self asteem and personality.

11. The Montessori pedagogy was developed over 100 years ago. What has been done to adapt the Montessori pedagogy to a modern society?
The most obvious change is the learning about facts. Science continuously provides us with new knowledge. A committee within the International Montessori Assosiation (AMI), is responsible for adapting and upgrading the material with new and correct information. In addition, every Montessori teacher is responsible for keeping up to date with new information.

Having said that, the Montessori method has not changed much over the past 100 years. The reason for this is that we observe the same spontaneous positive behaviour patterns in children today, as were reported by Montessori.

The Montessori method is not constructed to teach the child directly, but rather to provide an environment where the child can discover and learn by herself. The most important principle is that the pedagogy should be in line with the child’s mental development.

Montessori material and teaching methods are based on children’s basic mental steps of development, like the urges of exploration, precision, orientation, communication and abstraction. During preschool years, children go through periods where they are sensitive to different kinds of stimulation and are particularly motivated to learn different skills. All preschool children go through similar periods regardless of the historic time period or nationality. Through their work children show us the purpose of the material and the method. Observing the child is essential to gain this knowledge and materials that do not work are removed or replaced with something more appropriate.

12. Is it hard for the child to adapt to ordinary school after attending a Montessori preschool?
No. Experiences show that children attending a Montessori preschool do not have any problems adapting to an ordinary school. Usually the children are well prepared and teachers have especially reported that these children have a remarkable ability to concentrate when working. There is little research concerning the Montessori pedagogy, but a study from 2006 (Angeline Lillard and Nicole Else-Quest) shows some clear differences between children from Montessori preschools and ordinary preschools. Besides scoring better on cognitive tests, children from Montessori preschools showed a higher level of justice when dealing with conflict situations. Lillard and Else-Quest also found that Montessori children interacted more harmoniously and were more sociable than children from ordinary preschools.

13. Is it possible that children attending a Montessori preschool get too individualized and self centered?
Research (see 12.) and practical experience have rather shown the opposite.

Experience shows that when children are given respect and the freedom to learn in their own way, they start to change. Maria Montessori called these processes (easily recognizable when they appear) the normalization process. One of the visible signs in the child is their increased awareness towards and concern about other people – both children and adults. The child displays signs of empathy and seems to handle and enjoy social settings that involve concern for others.