A Q&A with Jennifer Kendall on Montessori Education

Early and Lower School Principal, The Grosse Pointe Academy

Q: What are the benefits of a Montessori education?

A: Montessori programs offer children an individualized program in a full classroom setting. The materials are introduced to all of the children by their teacher and the children then self direct themselves to choose work that is of interest to them. Maria Montessori felt that “we should not fill children with facts but rather cultivate their own natural desire to learn.” The classrooms have a Practical Life area, where children develop fine motor skills through a care for their environment, Sensorial area, where children learn color, size, texture, and weight through their work, and academic materials in language arts, math, science, and social studies.

Q: What are the differences between a play-based pre-school and Montessori pre-school?

A: Children in Montessori classrooms are introduced to different materials throughout their Montessori years. Each of the materials presented by the teacher has a purpose. As an example, while both play-based and Montessori classrooms have something resembling block objects in the room, a Montessori classroom has the Pink Tower of ten varying shaped block units. The tower is a Montessori material that is used to help develop coordination, set a basis for the number system and increase awareness of dimension.

Q: What are the benefits to having my child in a multi-age classroom?

A: Maria Montessori believed that younger children would benefit from the community formed with the older children. The multi-age classroom allows younger children to learn from the older students and model their behaviors and allows the older students a chance to reinforce their own knowledge by helping the younger students.

Q: How do I know if my child is ready for school?

A: All children develop and reach milestones at different times. Signs that your child is ready for school include an interest in being independent, a desire to play with other children, and following directions. Around two and a half to three, many children exhibit these characteristics and are ready for school.

For more information or to arrange for a tour, contact Assistant Head of School for Admissions and Marketing, Katherine Thompson at (313) 886-1221 or email kthompson@gpacademy.org.