F A Qs

These are just some of the Frequently Asked Questions we receive from parents like you. If your question is not answered here, please feel free to contact us.

Montessori Education


Q: What are the benefits of completing the full 3 year Montessori program?

A: Montessori Schools are structured around a 3 year age range or cycle, 3-6, 6-9, 9-12. These cycles correspond to definite developmental stages. Three to six is the seed sowing time. It is a time for learning the skills necessary for later learning. Your child is building his/her personality and knowledge. The third year at Montessori, when your child is between the ages of 5 and 6, is a crucial one. They need this time to build on their fairly newly acquired skills and knowledge. In the third year, children take on increasing responsibility for themselves, their class, and their environment. This is the time they begin to consolidate their knowledge.

Q: What are the benefits of my student staying with the same teacher for 3 years?

A: Montessori classes bring children together in multi-age groups, rather than a class of one age group. Children stay with their teacher for three years. This allows the teacher to develop close and long-term relationships with their students, allowing them to know each child’s learning style, while encouraging a strong sense of community among the children.

Q: How do you teach different age levels?

A: Through observation. We observe the needs of the child and understand their sensitive periods for acquiring knowledge. We present an activity to a child, observe if they understand the concept, and then leave the child to continue working with the activity independently. The multi-age, multi-level curriculum allows the children to work as far and as fast as they need, or to work slowly with a more gentle increase of challenge. This means that individual students do not have to wait while the whole class catches up, or struggle with activities that are too complex. They each work at their own pace and their own independent level.

Q: How does a Montessori classroom balance freedom and expression with community and cooperation?

A: The Montessori classroom is a microcosm of society where mutual acceptance and cooperation flourish within a context of individual freedom. It is a social and caring environment where the children are respected but also responsible for their own actions.

Q: With the Montessori philosophy of freedom, how do you teach discipline and how do you enforce it?

A: The freedom allowed in the room is contained within very strict parameters, which are clearly defined very early on in the school year. Yes the child is free to move around, talk to others, work at his/her own pace, as long as all this activity is with a purpose and does not infringe on the rights of his/her fellow students to do the same. Walk into a classroom at any given day, and you will witness a quiet hum of activity, and that is how it should be. We do not expect the children to sit quietly waiting to be directed by the teacher. After a lesson is given, the children are expected to proceed on their own, and in order to do this there will be a certain amount of movement and discussion. Being children, of course there are some who take longer than others to deal with this freedom. The teacher has to be adept at monitoring and redirecting children as and when necessary. Children are very visual, and some use this to help maintain discipline, by means of a “Good Citizen Chart.” Each child has four cards on the chart: green, yellow, orange, and red. The day starts with all green cards, and if a freedom rule is infringed the card goes to yellow, then orange then red. The children do not like to see the chart change color, and are therefore given an effective reminder to use their freedom wisely. Each child has a citizenship form and if they stay away from the red card all week, they get a smile sticker that week. This helps give the children a feeling of accomplishment and well-being while at the same time instilling good discipline.

Q: How does Montessori help gifted students?

A: Montessori is built around the traits and tendencies of all children, including those who are gifted. Dr. Maria Montessori’s scientific research examined many different kinds of children, not just one select group.

Q: How do Montessori children adjust to traditional school?

A: Montessori children develop self-discipline and self-motivation, enabling them to adapt easily to new environments. The value of community instills in children the ability to form secure relationships wherever they go.


Curriculum


Q: Does a Montessori class cover the same academic subjects as other schools?

A: Montessori embraces the whole human being. Art, music, and science aren’t treated as separate subjects. They are all integrated into the environment for each child’s explorations. For example, children learn grammar by putting together a school newspaper.

Q: Do you use the computer or an internet website for learning activities?

A: It is our belief that between the ages of 9 through 11, the children need to be introduced to research and learning activities through books and small group lessons. The child at this age is not ready for individual self motivated learning/researching from internet sites. Having to navigate the web proves quite overwhelming for children at that age. However, we are aware that in the technological age we live in today, the child does need some exposure and introduction to this useful tool. Therefore, the use of the computer is included in our curriculum. This is done under strict supervision, and only after a subject has been covered through lessons in class.

Q: What is the purpose of homework and what is the appropriate amount?

A: The purpose of homework is twofold. First, the homework given in upper elementary is designed and assigned to reinforce the lessons learned during the school day. Secondly, homework at this level beings a trend of responsibility and preparedness for middle school, high school and college. We expect our students to take responsibility to manage their time and complete the homework assigned.
The average amount of homework should be ten minutes per grade. So your fourth grade student should spend about 40 minutes completing their homework; fifth graders, 50 minutes; and sixth graders, 60 minutes.
At this age, it is difficult for students to remember all of their homework assignments. Therefore, we have each student complete a homework log at the end of each day that lists all of the assignments due the next day. If your child is enrolled in after school childcare, there is an hour and a half study hall time for students to complete and read quietly. Please take time to check your child’s log and work even if they have completed their assignments during this time.

Q: I feel my child has the ability to work at a more advanced level than the grade book he/she has been given. How do you deal with this type of situation?

A:
Math:
At the beginning of the year, the children are given an assessment test. However this is not the only tool used to assess them. We find, especially in the math area, some children find the first few chapters very basic, so these are also used as assessment. Though basic, these chapters also contain some very advanced algebra concepts. Once the child is able to grasp these concepts he/she is given more advanced work to expand knowledge of the new algebra concepts. As a general rule, we do not move the child on to the next grade level math, as this would be damaging to the child in the long run. Every chapter at every grade level contains some new algebra concepts which the child needs to grasp completely. To the adult eye, the arithmetic may appear basic, but please be advised the numbers are kept simple because the concept taught needs to be understood completely. It is our experience that children who rush through elementary math arrive at junior high and high school without the solid base knowledge for algebra and abstract thinking. Montessori philosophy is that math is not just about working with bigger numbers, but mainly about logical thinking, making connections, and absorbing all the math rules not by rote but with deep understanding. In our class we constantly observe how the child is assimilating ideas, and do present more challenging work for those who are able to completely grasp new ideas quickly. This is not necessarily from one grade level above, for reasons already explained above.
Language Arts:
Our language arts program covers a vast number of skills, and therefore is given more time in the daily work plan. The child’s ability to read is not the only tool used to judge how well the child is doing in the subject matter. Unfortunately, in the society we live in, children are not typically exposed to properly used English language, either spoken or written. The elementary years are the most influential time period that we have to address this problem, and we strive to maximize this critical time through our Language Arts program.


Parental Involvement


Q: What is the best way to communicate with my student's teacher?

A: The best way to communicate is through email, or a note placed in the teacher’s mail box. Telephoning the school is not a good idea, as we are not able to come to the office during class time. All the teachers have an Arborland email address. You can find your teacher’s address in the office, or in the staff directory on our website, and direct your questions to them.
We respectfully request that urgent questions be reserved for after 3:15pm, or a scheduled appointment time, as we are rushing to begin our class in the morning and thus will not be able to give you the full attention that you deserve. We are usually available in our classroom until 4:30 p.m., and sometimes later.

Q: What can I do at home to help?

A: Encourage your child to do and think for themselves. We are preparing them to be an adult. Your child needs to be able to dress and groom themselves, feed themselves, care for and put away their own belongings. Read to your child or have them read to you. Teach your child good moral values and how to be a kind, compassionate person. Reinforce the rules that are being taught in class. Remember you are a guide and role model for your child.
As a parent it is important to be enthusiastic about school and point out the importance of school and a good education. Make sure the homework is done, and show active support for your child’s teacher. Children have a very good sense of adults’ feelings. If your child senses that you are in full support of his/her teacher, he/she will be more inclined to follow instructions and learn. Children are very sensitive and do pick up on your feelings, even if you do not articulate them. Therefore if you have any concerns or feelings of dissatisfaction, please bring it to the immediate attention of the teacher, so it may be quickly resolved.

Q: How can I help in the classroom now that my student is in Upper Elementary?

A: We have two teachers; therefore we do not need any teaching assistance. However we will need assistance for individual group “going out” learning assignments, with transportation, either by car or train. At the upper elementary level, the children have trips to further extend knowledge in certain lessons being given in class.
Examples:
• Visit to the LA Times offices for sixth graders
• Science Camp for the sixth graders
• Visit to San Juan Capistrano for fourth graders
• Visit to a sailing ship for fifth graders
• Small group visits for further research to the library
We may need parental help with some of these visits and we will be contacting you. If you are able to be of assistance please add your name to the list at the office. We will also need help for events like the recitals and International Culture Day.

Q: What can I do to help my student prepare for the Science Fair?

A: Don’t stress! Science fair should be an enjoyable learning experience for the students to explore a science topic they are interested in and tell other people about it. We give students clear guidelines for what is expected from them. Please look for handouts in the mailboxes, email, and written instructions in their Science notebook. If you are concerned with developing an idea, we have plenty of books available in the classroom that have experiments that are wonderful for science fair presentations. Several weeks before the science fair project is due, a comprehensive Science Fair Packet is sent home to enable you to assist and guide your child.


Tuition and Payment


Q: When is monthly tuition due?

A: Tuition is due on the 25th of each month. If the due date falls on a holiday, please be sure that your payment is received by the due date to avoid any late fees.

Q: Where will I find my monthly Tuition statement?

A: In your child’s cubby and in your email inbox. Administration distributes printed and digital monthly statements around the second week of every month. If you feel that you did not receive your monthly statement please refer to the Office and keep in mind that tuition is due on the 25th of every month.

Q: I unexpectedly went out of town and am late to pay tuition. Can you waive my late fee?

A: No, unfortunately not. For tuition payments we do offer a grace period between the 25th and 1st of every month.

Q: I will be out of town for a month, etc. will my tuition be prorated?

A: No. If you will be out of town or absent for an extended period of time please submit a 30 day written notice to withdraw your child from the school. Once you wish to resume programs you must re-enroll your child. Please note that once you withdraw your child from Arborland Montessori your child’s space will not be guaranteed upon re-enrollment.

Q: If my child is enrolled in Arborland Education Center do I need to submit another deposit for Arborland Montessori Children's Academy?

A: Yes, Arborland Education Center and Arborland Montessori Children’s Academy are two separate institutions.

Q: If my child attends Arborland Education Center can I pay for his/her Arborland Montessori tuition with the Education Center tuition?

A: No. Please make separate payments for your child’s activities at the Education Center. The reason for this request is because we have two separate accounts, one for Arborland Montessori Children’s Academy and one for Arborland Education Center. Having separate accounts ensures that we properly credit your accounts. If you submit your Education Center payment with your Montessori payment we will ask you to separate the payments for the proper amount by the tuition due date.

Q: If my child is enrolled in Optional Programs (Valencia Campus only) can I make one payment for both Montessori tuition and Optional Programs?

A: Yes, unlike Arborland Education Center activities, Optional Programs (Valencia Campus only) will automatically be added to your Montessori account.

Q: If I have more than one child enrolled at Arborland Montessori can I receive any discounts?

A: Yes, if you have more than one child enrolled at Arborland Montessori you are eligible to receive a discount on tuition only. Optional programs are not discounted. Please check with the Office for details.

Q: Are you open for childcare services during Winter Recess, Spring Recess, and holidays?

A: Yes, we are open for childcare services during Winter Recess, Spring Recess, and most non-Federal holidays at an additional fee of $15.00 a day for Montessori students and $30.00 a day for Education Center students. Please make sure that you sign up and pay the specified fee in advance to ensure your child’s spot in our holiday childcare. Due to costs, a minimum of 10 students signed up and paid for in advance is required for the school to open for childcare on these days. If there is less than 10 students signed up and childcare services are cancelled you will be notified prior to the date.


Other concerns


Q: What is the difference between the two campuses?

A: The two campuses are in two different locations within the city of Fullerton. Valencia is the first campus and opened its doors in 1988, then Hughes followed in 2003. All classes have the same curriculum, materials and ratio, while teachers have the same qualifications.

Q: When does my child get to stay up and not take a nap anymore?

A: There are several factors we consider:

• age
• ability to stay focused
• ability to concentrate for long periods of time
• if the child is able to choose work independently
• if the child has acquired inner discipline

Q: I want my child to go to public school because it is larger and they establish new and more friends.

A: The concern should not be the quantity of children your child is exposed to but the quality of attention they will receive in a smaller setting. In this smaller setting, the children learn to cooperate with one another, how to collaborate and work together. They learn to nurture and to care for others because they are supervised more closely. We encourage friendships and being kind to others. Because we are with your child for so many years, we become more aware of their needs and are able to see their uniqueness.

Q: Will my student be ready for traditional junior high school?

A: The answer to this question is a very strong “YES.” This is not an idle statement, neither is it an opinion. It is a fact based on several supporting details. One of the most important facts is that we track the progress of our Arborland alumni, and have received only very positive feedback. All of our alumni who have graduated from local high schools have gone on to very prestigious universities around the United States.
The other important fact to remember is that the Arborland curriculum is kept abreast with the California Education Standards. The children do the same state tests as the local public schools, starting in first grade.
All concepts presented to the children are done so with Montessori materials, at the primary and lower elementary levels. At the upper elementary level the children are gradually led away from the materials to more abstract work.
Finally, the children are taught in very small groups, thus getting very individualized attention. We teach the children in small groups, we make eye contact; we constantly observe and make adjustments as necessary. We do not lecture “at the children;” we talk to and connect the child to the work. If the child “does not get it,” we believe it is the teacher’s problem, and we do our upmost to fix this issue quickly.

Q: What are the areas of responsibility in the classroom for the team teachers?

A: Good team teaching is of great benefit for the children, and also for the teachers involved. We have excellent team teaching situations when necessary. In any team teaching situation, both teachers teach, though one is a lead teacher—having been around longer and having had more experience. For good team teaching, both teachers need to know what is being taught to all children, observe all children and be fully informed to each child’s progress. To do this effectively, the teachers constantly meet and discuss lesson plans and progress. Record keeping and progress is tracked jointly. Each teacher is able to take over, without notice, to teach any area in any subject to any level. The teaching requirement for the whole year is jointly planned. Each teacher executes weekly/daily plans based on the yearly forecast. It may take a lot of time putting the plan in place, but once done, it is an excellent guide for team teaching.