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FAQs « North Star Montessori Elementary School — Learning through discovery


  • What is Montessori?

    • Montessori is a proven educational method based on scientific observation of the development of children pioneered by Dr. Maria Montessori over 100 years ago in Italy. Education within the Montessori environment provides children the opportunity to express themselves as individuals. The children explore and learn through discovery at their own pace under the guidance of specially trained teachers. It is an individualized approach to education for children from infancy through high school (North Star offers programs from infancy through grade 7) that assists each child reaching their full potential. It is a student-centered approach that fosters creativity, curiosity and encourages children to ask questions, explore and think critically as they acquire both academic and life skills.
    • The children work independently and in groups, exploring the materials, with facilitation and guidance from the teachers. The Montessori environment nurtures independence and fosters the skills and confidence that children need to succeed in all aspects of their lives.
  • How does Montessori compare to traditional types of education?

    • Montessori education emphasizes learning through all five senses, not just through listening, watching and reading. While traditional education is based on the transfer of knowledge from teacher to student and follows a set curriculum according to a timeframe that is the same for everyone, Montessori education is based on helping the natural development of the human being and students learn at their own pace, following their own individual interests. Rather than being teacher directed, the Montessori teacher works in collaboration with the students and this working and learning is matched to the social development of the students. Montessori education emphasizes intrinsic motivation through physical exploration, self-direction and a process of discovery rather than motivation by a system of rewards and punishments.
  • Who makes a good Montessori student?

    • With a core philosophy to follow the child, all children can thrive within the Montessori environment. The easiest progression is through the introduction of the Montessori approach in the Infant-Toddler and Casa (preschool) programs.
  • What does North Star Montessori Elementary School offer?

    • North Star offers a safe, nurturing environment where children can explore, discover and develop as intelligent, confident and compassionate individuals. Montessori-trained teachers guide the students through the integrated curriculum which is further enriched with an extensive physical education program, second language instruction and outdoor excursions. We also offer an after-school-care program in a bright and modern facility.
  • How is North Star different from other Montessori schools or other private schools?

    • North Star is the only authentic Montessori school on the North Shore currently offering an elementary program as outlined by Maria Montessori (We currently offer programs from infancy through grade 6). We offer a warm, friendly atmosphere, which feels like an extended family, partly due to our small size, and partly due to the parent participation and teacher leadership, which sets the tone of the school. The authentic Montessori educational approach, as well as the extensive outdoor education and fieldtrips set North Star apart from other private schools.
  • What does ‘integrated curriculum” mean?

    • The integrated curriculum is one of the Montessori Method’s great strengths. The curriculum ties together studies of the physical universe, the natural world, and human experience. Each lesson builds on the previous one in a spiral of learning, with the curriculum building carefully over time. This method differs from the traditional model of education which often has compartmentalized subject areas where topics are sometimes covered only once at specific grade levels.
  • Can you give me an example of what ‘integrated curriculum’ looks like?

    • The Montessori Method allows for each subject area to complement one another and shows the child the inter-connectedness of all things. For example, the children may have a lesson on the Ancient Civilization of Greece. From that lesson they may decided to research Greek Mythology and proceed to write their own Greek Myth in dramatic form, designing and preparing their own costumes and stage sets, composing musical accompaniment and sound effects, creating a program, selling tickets and finally presenting their play to an audience of peers, younger students and parents. This example illustrates how history, language, technology, math, commerce, art, music and drama integrate in one self-directed project.
  • What is Choice Theory and how does North Star incorporate it?

    • Choice Theory is an internal psychology that assumes: all behaviour is purposeful, coercion leads to resistance, connectedness leads to cooperation. The teachers at North Star have Choice Theory training and use their skills to model and encourage effective communication and behaviour, to help students recognize and acknowledge their own needs and effectively meet them, to help students self-evaluate their behaviour and identify more effective choice for the future, and to help students accept responsibility for their actions. Using non-coercive means, the faculty strives to reach the goals of fostering a love of learning, independence, respect, and providing children with the tools to become positive contributors to society.
  • What level of structure is provided in the classroom?

    • The Montessori environment provides freedom in a structured environment. The children must follow certain guidelines and complete certain activities, although they may do so at their own pace. The children are also able to choose other activities to study outside the norm. Work is completed individually and in groups under the guidance of one or more teachers.
  • What is the purpose of the multi-age classrooms?

    • The multi-age classrooms create an environment that allows learning to take place naturally. Children often learn and take criticism better from other children and learning is recognized as a social process. Varied ages allow older children to help younger ones and solidify their own knowledge through the experience of teaching. Younger children learn through observation how to lead while the others experience and learn leadership skills. Through these multi-aged interactions children learn the importance of cooperation, respect, collaboration, acceptance and trust. These experiences help to develop self-esteem, empathy, confidence and leadership skills.
  • What special training do Montessori teachers have?

    • Montessori Elementary teachers must obtain a Montessori Diploma from a recognized school, as well as be certified by the BC Independent School Authority or the BC Ministry of Education. Montessori Casa (preschool) teachers must obtain a Montessori Diploma and ECE Certification. These qualifications can be independent from or in addition to a more traditional B. Ed. education.
  • In a self-directed environment, how is the Ministry of Education curriculum followed?

    • The Ministry of Education curriculum, taught in conjunction with and in addition to the Montessori curriculum, is used as a minimum guideline. Children complete Ministry curriculum material as a minimum standard, but at their own pace through self-directed studies. Typically, Montessori students work well beyond the Ministry guidelines. The Montessori environment allows children to excel into higher grade levels within their social age group based on ability and interest while simultaneously supporting that same child or others with extra time and attention in areas of difficulty. The structure of the Montessori program allows for more individualized attention for all students.
  • At what ages and equivalent grade levels are students typically accepted into the school?

    • Typically, students are accepted into the Montessori program in Casa (preschool). They can be accepted at a higher grade if they have had previous and continuous Montessori education. Students entering the program from another Montessori school or who are over 4 years of age, require an assessment to determine suitability to the program.
  • How do students perform at public or other private schools when they leave the Montessori environment?

    • This really depends upon the child. Most are academically and socially advanced when they enter the public or more traditional private school system. Based upon our experience with past students integration into both systems has been smooth and successful.
  • What are the fees?

    • Fees are very competitive. Aside from tuition, there is a Physical Education/Field Trip fee and a nominal amount for school supplies. All Elementary students are required to wear the school uniform. Details are provided in the School’s Fee Guide.
  • Who is responsible for running the school?

    • The school is operated by the Head of School and is overseen by a board of directors who provides support and guidance.
  • Do you have before and or after-school-care?

    • Yes, we offer supervised after-school-care from 3 to 6pm daily for children in Extended- Day Kindergarten through Grade 7. Parents can choose to enroll children for fewer days and have the flexibility to pick up their children at any time during the after-school hours.