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 in your child's first year.

Completing this  places your child  on the waiting list, you will be invited to attend introductory evenings twice a year.

Attendance at one evening is required before full enrolment. Introductory evenings are held in term one (Feb/March) and term four (Oct/Nov) each year.

You will be invited to our playgroup as spaces become available, we require children to do at least 2 terms of playgroup before  starting at Tōtara Hill Montessori. If you want more information about playgroup, please email us.


 Our preference is to start children just before they turn three, and before they are over 3.5 years.

Pre Enrolment form 2021.pdf
Adobe Acrobat Document 90.6 KB

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. For example we strive for children to become independent in their self care and organisation, if they can pack their own bag at school they can do it at home too!

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. 
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. They are still playing, but it looks a little a different.


In Montessori Children choose what activity they want to use and then put it away ready for the next child to choose, fostering a sense of community.  Unlike in mainstream there isn't a big tidy up to do for adults, the children are shown how to care for and keep tidy their own environment.

The children work along side each other, but can work for as long as they want with their chosen activity alone, unless they invite a friend to join them.


Montessori is about children learning to be independent, wanting to learn, and guiding themselves as they follow their own interests. One of the most important aspects of Montessori is learning to respect oneself, other people and the environment.  To be gentle and respectful are our core values.


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!)


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.


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.