Frequently Asked Questions about Montessori Education (FAQ)
The Montessori Method
What is Montessori?
Montessori is a unique, child-centered approach to learning based on the teachings of Dr. Maria Montessori. It emphasizes the complete development of a child -- academically, emotionally, socially, and physically -- through individualized instruction guided by the child’s own interests.
How is a Montessori school different from other schools?
In a Montessori school, children are taught educational concepts instinctively as they work independently with the many materials available in the classroom. Being in a mixed age classroom, children are taught according to their own developmental stage and ability and progress at their own pace. Within the boundaries of order and respect, children have the freedom to explore their environment.
Do Montessori teachers have any special training or certification?
Accredited Montessori teachers are required to undergo a two year certification program where they become well-acquainted with Montessori philosophy and childhood development. Moreover, they receive thorough instruction and training on how to present each of the special materials used in a Montessori classroom to their students. At UAC, our head teachers are fully certified and qualified to lead the classroom.
What is the role of a Montessori teacher?
The Montessori teacher functions mainly in the background facilitating classroom activity while allowing students to pursue their passions and develop their natural love for learning. The teacher carefully prepares the classroom and guides students from one activity to the next. After carefully observing and assessing each child’s ability and unique interests, she will individually present a developmentally-appropriate lesson in various subjects such as Practical Life, Language, Mathematics and more.
The Montessori Classroom
What distinguishes a Montessori classroom?
The Montessori classroom is arranged with the child in mind. It is neatly organized with sensory materials and tools specially designed to promote a hands-on approach to learning. All furniture is child-sized to promote their sense of independence and self-confidence.
Why are different age levels grouped together?
A mixed age level classroom provides advantages to the students for many reasons. Younger students observe and learn from the older students while older students demonstrate empathy and leadership skills by assisting the younger students. As with siblings, working closely with others who are not of the same age promotes bonds of brotherhood while cultivating valuable social skills.
Is technology used in the classroom?
Montessori curriculum does not use electronic technology as part of the educational experience. The early developmental period is a sensory time when the child gathers information better through concrete experiences. Unity Academy does use technology to keep student records and to facilitate communication with families.
The Montessori Child
What skills will my child develop with this education?
Montessori methods inculcate the qualities of independence, self-discipline, concentration, and a joy for learning in a child. Montessori children are known for their ability to adapt to different situations. Because they are encouraged to make decisions from the start, they become confident problem-solvers. Their experience with older and younger classmates equips them with good communication skills and the qualities of empathy and leadership.
Does my child need to be toilet-trained to attend?
Yes, we require our students to be fully trained by the start of the school year. In emergency situations, our teaching staff is available to provide assistance.
The Daily Routine
What will a typical day look like for my child?
Upon arrival, children are welcomed by a teacher and assemble for line time where the teacher engages them through recitation from the Qur'an, stories, rhymes, lessons, and more. Children then have a work period with the teacher guiding and presenting lessons to individuals or small groups. They concentrate on works from different areas of the classroom including Practical Life, Sensory, Language, Math, and Culture. Children also receive Qur’an/Arabic instruction, and they are free to help themselves to a prepared healthy snack at any time in the morning. Half-day students will then be dismissed followed by a break for lunch and recess. Our full-day students will continue with another work cycle in the afternoon while younger students will be allowed to take a nap. The day concludes with another line time congregation.
Do you offer a three days per week program?
In order to facilitate a smooth flow of learning for the child, Montessori programs are offered for five consecutive days. A child taken in and out of school does not have the same advantage of pursuing their budding interests.
Are snacks and lunch provided?
Students will take turns bringing in healthy snacks to share with the class. Allergy or other dietary restrictions should be communicated at the time of registration. Additionally, all students will need to bring a packed lunch from home. We are not able to provide a hot lunch service at this time.
Will my child learn Arabic/Qur’an at the school?
We will have daily lessons in Qur’an and Arabic. Our qualified teacher will assess each child at the start of the year and will then work with each child individually and in small groups based on ability. Parents can expect their children to memorize some chapters of the Qur’an and gain letter recognition while making progress towards reading the Qur’an.
Unity Academy of Chicago (UAC)
Can a school be both Montessori and religious?
Although typically Montessori schools are non-denominational, at UAC we believe in nurturing the spiritual aspect of our students’ development alongside the academic, social, emotional, and physical aspects. Our religious instruction, based on guidance from the Glorious Qur’an and teachings of Prophet Muhammad (saw) and his pure family (as), will be integrated into daily lessons, stories, and conversations. This will enhance the traditional Montessori approach for a more wholesome education of your child.
Can I enroll my child after the 2021-22 school year has already begun?
Yes, Unity Academy follows a rolling admissions schedule. This means that we are able to accept an age appropriate child into our classroom at any time during the year, provided there is still an available spot. Because Montessori curriculum is structured to be completely individualized, new students will be able to easily adapt to the classroom environment with minimal disruption to our current students. Tuition will be prorated for new students.
What COVID-19 safety precautions will be taken?
The health and safety of our students and staff is most important to us. We are monitoring the current Covid-19 situation and will follow all current recommendations and guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) found on their website:
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/k-12-guidance.html. At present, all students will be required to wear masks indoors and adhere to safety protocols outlined to parents.
How can parents be involved?
A close partnership between parents and teachers is vital to a child’s success in any program. At UAC, we are honored to partner with you in educating and raising your child. Your input and involvement will reinforce the strong connection between home and school for your child. Our teachers will regularly schedule conferences to discuss your child’s progress and to share ideas on expanding the Montessori experience outside of the classroom. As the year progresses, opportunities for volunteering are sure to arise and we would gladly welcome your support.