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Toddler & primary faqs

The following are the most common questions that asked of Cattoira Montessori staff. You’ll find more specific information throughout the website and by attending a School Tour.



Q:  Why is it recommended that children start young with the Montessori Method?

A:  A basic definition of Montessori is a system of education to meet your child’s needs. During the first six years of life, learning takes place at an incredible pace. During that time, the human intelligence itself is being formed. Montessori observed that the child passes through a series of sensitive periods, intervals of intense fascination for learning certain skills. It is easier for a child to perfect a particular skill during the corresponding sensitive period than at any other time in his life. The Montessori Teacher (traditionally called Directress) is a trained observer who understands and assists the needs of the child during these periods of development. The Montessori classroom, at any age, is uniquely set up to meet all of the child’s developmental needs: social/emotional, physical, and intellectual.


Q: How is a Montessori preschool different from other preschools?

A:  In a Montessori classroom, children learn through multi-sensory teaching materials that are specially designed to teach specific concepts. The learning is active, individualized and small group-oriented rather than predominantly teacher-centered class lessons. Children are able to work at their own pace rather than conforming to the progress of the whole group or class. Children are encouraged to learn how to make good decisions and can select their “work” according to individual interests. Independence is fostered by a classroom specifically designed to encourage initiative and completion. Respect for others, the environment, and for authority is cultivated as well as self-confidence and self-respect. Social development takes place within a multi-age “community” where children learn from one another and interact within a peaceful, thoughtful classroom atmosphere.


Q:  The Montessori Method seems to stress individuality. How will my child learn important social skills?

A:  Social skills are practiced throughout the day as the children in the classroom interact with one another. At the beginning of the school year, the teacher and multi-aged class as a whole discuss and establish what is known as ground rules. These ground rules are then the governing guidelines for encouraged behavior. The children discuss how the rules protect everyone which paves a way for positive interactions between children. Lessons on good manners and courtesy are also presented. The Montessori classroom is a delightful workshop of manners in practice!


Q:  How do you handle children who are just learning English?

A:  Generally, even our toddlers are just learning English! This age group is continually learning new vocabulary and growing in their expressive as well as their receptive language. Children who come from a different language background in their preschool years will have the opportunity to be immersed in the English language. We do have many teachers who are multi-lingual who can be of assistance to them if needed. Children are in a sensitive period for language during this time and will learn the English language fairly quickly. We expose all our students to foreign language instruction, usually Spanish, at every age level in the school.


Q:  How will you help my child learn gross motor skills?

A:  Gross motor skills develop as a child exercises large muscle coordination. Movement activities done in the classroom are directly related to encouraging gross motor control. Walking the line, jumping, hopping, galloping, and skipping are exercises done almost daily in the preschool classroom. All children enjoy daily recesses on age appropriate playgrounds. Many Practical Life activities exercise the gross motor areas. Scrubbing a table using large circular motions while pressing down on the scrub brush is an excellent example of arm development occurring during a purposeful activity. The circular arm movements directly prepare the child for the later arm motion needed in cursive handwriting.


Q:  How will you help my child learn fine motor skills?

A: The exercises of Practical Life and Sensorial provide excellent preparation of the hand to do small motor movements. Tonging, tweezing, and spooning are examples of exercising the fingers for readiness of handwriting and cutting. Knobbed puzzles and knobbed cylinder blocks in the sensorial area directly develop the three finger grip needed for holding a crayon or pencil later. As children show strength in small motor control, they more easily move into coloring within the lines and specific instruction in handwriting skills. Montessori believed the natural time for a child to show interest and begin writing was between 3 ½ and 4 ½ years old.