Frequently Asked Questions
How do I enrol my child?
Please download a pre enrolment form from our web site and return it to us. We recommend doing this as early as possible. If your child is younger than 2.5 years, you will go on our waiting list and we will communicate with you via email. If your child is already old enough to start we will get back to you and let you know when a place might be available. Sometimes we have spaces and sometimes we don't but we will do our best to fit you in.
Completing a pre-enrolment form places your child on our waiting list. You will be invited to attend introductory evenings twice a year. Attending an introductory evening is recomended before full enrolment.
Introductory evenings are run in the first and last term of each year. We will contact you when your child is close to starting.
Does Montessori suit all children?
Yes Montessori suits all children, boys or girls, quiet or boisterous!
But Montessori doesn't suit all parents. We expect a high involvement from parents, including attendance at parent nights and a commitment to take the Montessori principles home and use them in daily life. Montessori is a way of life not just something that happens at school!
We model an environment where there is respect for each other, the materials and nature, we work hard for children to achieve this and encourage the same behaviours at home.
What is the difference between Montessori and mainstream ECE?
A traditional preschool or kindy has a play based philosophy where children learn through play. One of the most important aspects of Montessori is learning to respect oneself, other people and
the environment. To be gentle and respectful are core values.
Montessori is a system of activities broken down into simple steps that enable a child to master skills one at a time. Once developed these skills help a child discover the joy of reading, writing and using numbers. It doesn't stop here; Montessori is about children learning to be independent, wanting to learn, and guiding themselves as they follow their own interests.
In Montessori children choose what activities they want to use and put them away afterwards ready for the next child to use. Unlike in mainstream there isn't a big tidy up for adults to do, children are expected to take responsibility for their own environment.
What does it cost?
All 3-5 year olds receive 20 hours ECE. The minimum enrolment is four days, unless children are young or very new.
Our fees are $90 a week, we encourage families to attend as many days as possible.
We need to charge a fee to keep our Montessori equipment up to date, it is expensive and comes from overseas. We are also committed to staffs ongoing training.
Do you have parent helpers?
During the year parents are welcomed in to share with the children something that they do. For example we have parents who play a musical instrument, sing or perhaps have an interesting job such as being a vet, builder or an ambulance driver. In the last term of the year parents come in to help with Christmas crafts and cooking.
In the normal run of the day, parents are welcomed in between 8.30 and 9am and they are invited and encouraged to make an appointment to observe at any time.
The hardest thing for a non Montessori trained adult is to learn not to over help! Never do anything for a child they can do for themselves. Too many adults in the environment means the children rely on adults for help. Because the environment is set up for children to learn independently, if there are no 'spare' adults giving unnecessary help the children really do become more and more independent.
So parent help is not usually needed, instead the teachers learn to blend into the background and let the children discover for themselves.
What do you expect of parents who come into the classroom?
Please take off your shoes. Come in but try to crouch down or sit rather than stand. Please talk quietly and move slowly. Walk around the mats, that's where the children put their activities. Watch all the children without making them feel uncomfortable. Save your questions for when a teacher is free, don't talk to us when we are working with a child. Don't sit on tables. Please don't let siblings play with activities. Ask your child what they would like to show you and then let them show you (sit on your hands!)
"It is well to cultivate a friendly feeling towards error, to treat it as a companion inseparable from our lives, as something having a purpose which it truly has."
I am concerned that my child doesn’t have many friends the same age to transition to school from Montessori, what impact will this have?
This is a big worry for many parents as their children move from Montessori preschools into Primary.
How many of you as adults still have friends from your primary school days? How many of your close friends are born the same year as you?
You really don’t need to worry about your child having friends as they transition into primary school, what you should instead be focused on is does your child know how to be friendly? It is the skills of being kind to all children and making friends that your child will need when they get to primary school, and when they move to high school and those same skills will be needed for the transition to the work place or university too.
Being able to adapt, meet new people and be socially confident are what every child needs, not necessarily to know a friend to go to Primary school with.
It is exactly these skills children learn with the grace and courtesy lessons in a Montessori classroom, so equipping them for life and for the many transitions they will have.
We all move in and out of friendships, children don’t get as hung up about it as adults, our own fears can have a negative effect on our children. Many children move to a new area start a new school, it doesn’t take long for them to make new friends, and children do it better than adults often! So relax and trust the process, it’s better to have learnt the skills so help your children to be kind and gentle, they will use these skills for life. The time they spend in their Montessori class will have been so much more worthwhile than going somewhere just to have lots of children the same age.
What is the transition process between Totara Hill and the Montessori primary unit?
The Primary trust ask parents who plan to enrol their children to do so at aged 4, to give them plenty of time to process the enrolment.
Children stay at Totara Hill Montessori until the term they are turning six. The Primary class enrols children at the beginning of each term. We make the staying at 5 a special event, and all the children know they either go to school at five or stay on at Totara Hill as a leader, as long as parents can explain to other adults that their child is at "Montessori school", you can usually avoid any confusion for the child.