Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: What can I expect of the school academically?
A: MCMS aspires to fulfill its mission as a Montessori school.
As a Montessori school, we are different from traditional schools. Our first commitment is to the multi-dimensional development of the child. Montessori children do learn a great deal of factual knowledge in school. However, our aim is for each child to be far more than a repository of information; we guide each child to think for herself. Cognitive development and a solid academic foundation are important, yet they represent only one dimension of our aspirations for your child. Equally significant is your child’s social, emotional, spiritual, and physical development.
Children are given choices and a great deal of freedom, within limits, during the school day. The choices a child makes, and the accompanying responsibilities, influence the emerging character of your child. Choosing his own work, or shaping it to a considerable degree, following that work through to completion, while working independently or in cooperation with others, the Montessori child identifies his interests and develops his individual gifts.
Significant emphasis is placed upon community service, particularly at the older levels. Younger children learn by serving their small community (classmates, classroom and family). As they grow, children reach out to the larger community and experience the many rewards of helping others. The children gain awareness and appreciation of others, of the challenges faced by others, and, equally important, of their own strengths and abilities to help others and affect the world around them. Community service is an integral and important part of their lives, and stays with them well beyond their MCMS years.
We treat each child with dignity and respect, and expect that she will treat all others with the same respect. We treat each child as an individual and strive to develop each child’s unique gifts within the context of the classroom and school community. With freedom comes responsibility, and each child learns to balance his personal freedom with a clear sense of responsibility to himself, to others, and to the community as a whole.
Q: What can I expect in terms of communication from the school?
A: We aim to maintain open, honest, direct, timely and respectful communication with you about your child and about information affecting the school community.
There are two regularly scheduled parent/teacher (or in the case of the older UE and AD students, parent/teacher/student) conferences each year, and an end-of-year written report (for CH Extended Day – Adolescent students). In the event of special concerns, your child’s teacher will contact you to discuss these concerns by phone, by email, or in person. In addition to conference reporting, classroom teachers may communicate with you via classroom letters/newsletters, email messages, or short reports as needed for individual children.
Each MCMS teacher is a well-trained professional, and her evaluation of your child is confidential and based on direct observation. A teacher will always offer his current best understanding of your child’s progress and his strengths and needs.
Regarding ongoing school-wide communication, the school distributes an electronic Tuesday Bulletin weekly, as well as a Family Handbook, school calendar, and other occasional letters, emails and publications. We also invite you to attend the meetings/events we have scheduled throughout the year designed to provide more information to families.
Q: What can I expect from the school environment?
A: We strive to ensure an environment that is physically and emotionally safe and supportive, as well as aesthetically beautiful.
Dr. Montessori said that the classroom teacher’s first responsibility is to prepare the environment. This means that the learning materials should correspond to the developmental characteristics of the child at each level, and that those materials must be attractive to the child: correct in size, aesthetically pleasing, well maintained, and complete. More broadly, the whole school environment must meet these criteria: to appeal to the child and to inspire his work.
We are ever vigilant to ensure that the school building and grounds are physically safe, secure, and well maintained.
Our community of children and adults comprises a social environment and culture that impacts the child’s experience. We strive to make this environment emotionally supportive and safe for every child. This does not mean that there are no problems. It does mean that we will work with your child in developmentally appropriate ways to deal with problems as they arise, empowering him with social skills and strategies to prepare for a lifetime of working with others in different communities and organizations.
Q: What professional standards can I expect of the school and faculty?
A: The school maintains accreditation by the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) and high standards for training and professionalism among its faculty.
The school is accredited by the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI). This organization represents the most exacting standards of excellence for Montessori schools. In addition, the Board and Administration have worked with Independent School Management (ISM) since 2009 to identify and implement goals for management and governance specific to private, independent schools.
At minimum, all lead teachers hold a Bachelor’s degree; a number have earned Master’s degrees as well. In addition, Toddler, Children’s House, and Elementary teachers have a post-graduate diploma from an AMI teacher-training center. At least one of our Adolescent teachers has also attended training certification through North American Montessori Teachers Association (NAMTA). Our teachers have a sense of mission in working with children and demonstrate high standards for themselves and their students.
The school promotes a culture of professional growth in a number of ways, as we all see ourselves as lifelong learners. Teachers work with the Head of School and Director of Education & Admissions to set annual goals to enhance their practices. Over a three-year cycle, AMI school consultants observe each teacher and work with each program as part of the formal accreditation process (Toddler through Upper Elementary). In addition, all MCMS employees regularly attend workshops/conferences, in conjunction with scheduled observations of other classrooms, for ongoing professional development.
Q: What can I expect of the school administration?
A: Integrity; a focus on the needs of the individual child in harmony with the life of the community; mission-driven decisions embodying good stewardship and responsible management; and an open door to your questions or concerns.
Administrative staff interface with all the various constituencies of the school: students, parents/guardians, extended family, faculty and staff, Board members, alumni, prospective families, professional visitors, government officials, other schools and educational organizations, and the general public. In your interactions with administration, you can expect professional, courteous, and business-like conduct, as well as mutually respectful communication.
The Head of School, Director of Education & Admissions, Director of Development, Bookkeeper and Administrative Assistant comprise the administrative team. They often face decisions requiring a balance of competing priorities. Sometimes those factors are mutually exclusive; sometimes equally well-intentioned adults see matters differently. In making decisions, administration will focus on the interest of the individual child in balance with the needs of the school.
Q: What is the school’s most basic expectation of families?
A: Make continuing efforts both to understand and to embrace the Montessori approach and to work in partnership with the school.
These efforts should begin before admission. The school desires families who understand and embrace the mission of the school. To that end, we help families learn about the Montessori approach by providing information and opportunities for parent education as part of the admission process, so that families can make an informed decision in choosing to enroll their children. We continue to provide more opportunities throughout a family’s years at the school. Once children are enrolled, the school expects families to attend regularly scheduled parent/teacher conferences and parent education events, to observe at least once/year in your child’s classroom, and to familiarize themselves with the philosophy, policies, and procedures contained in the Family Handbook and other school publications.
Children thrive when home and school work in harmony, with both environments sharing the same educational values and expectations.
Q: What contribution can I make to create a positive school community?
A: Demonstrate respect for all adults and children, the school, and the school’s programs.
Model for your children respect: for them, their classmates, families of classmates, teachers and other school staff – in short, for everyone associated with the school. Respect begins with civility and deepens into trust. Our most fundamental behavioral guidelines for the children are, “Respect yourself, respect others, and respect the environment.” We expect the same from the adults, parents/guardians, and school staff, at all times and in all relationships within the school community. This includes speech and outward behavior. Support your child by speaking of his/her teachers, classmates, and school in positive terms. Respect and abide by the school’s policies and procedures. Honor your commitments. Look for ways to make a positive contribution to the life of the school.
Through your behavior you contribute to your children’s moral development and to the culture and climate of their school, which they experience on a daily basis.
Q: How can I create consistency between home and school?
A: Strive to parent according to Montessori principles.
Learn as much as you can about Montessori principles as they apply to preparation of your child’s home environment as well as the way we parents interact with our children. This begins with the general principle, “Never do something for your child that he can do for himself.” Allow your child to engage in all of the simple tasks of practical life that a child can do for himself at each stage of development. Montessori education may also entail learning a communication style different from the way we were parented.
Children develop a love of learning and become responsible, independent, and capable when parents’ values and expectations are consistent with those of the school.
Q: What are my responsibilities regarding communication between home and school?
A: Maintain active, direct and respectful, two-way communication with the school.
Read communications that are sent home, including letters, Tuesday Bulletins, newsletters, emails, and calendars. Inform the school in a timely fashion of pertinent changes in your child’s life. Active communication involves families sharing observations and concerns about their child with the child’s current teacher. In matters large and small, remember the principle of respect: even when there is disagreement, disagree respectfully. For more detailed communication guidelines, please refer to the Communication section in the Family Handbook.
Children prosper most when the primary voices in their lives sing in harmony. Let’s work together for that music to happen.