The following are answers to questions
frequently asked by parents visiting BCMS
Big City Montessori School accepts children between the ages of 2½ to 3½ years old for new enrollment.
Our program is year-round. At BCMS there is no mandatory volunteering or fundraising.
A: Our full-time program is five days per week. We are open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Class time is 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., morning care is 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and after school care is 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Morning and afternoon care is included in the full-time tuition.
Q: What are the days and hours of the program?
Q: How flexible are pick-up/drop off times?
A: BCMS understands the sometimes rushed and chaotic lives of parents. We support flexibility, but encourage consistency. The most advantageous schedule for your child is from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. five days a week.
Q: What are the staff’s credentials?
A: Our head teachers are Association Montessori International (AMI) certified. All of our Assistant Teachers have California state-required Early Childhood Education (ECE) units. In addition to academic requirements, all of our teachers have from five to forty years of classroom experience.
A: Parents are welcome to observe their child at anytime. However, we ask that a parent does not enter the classroom, as this may disturb the environment. We do not require parent participation, mandatory volunteering or fundraising, but we have an active parents club. We will, of course, gladly accept any parent’s wish to volunteer time or talent to the many on-going projects at BCMS.
Q: Can parents visit anytime?
Do parents ever participate?
A: BCMS has virtually no turnover. Our late and beloved Miss Pearl, who retired in 2008, after 35 years of teaching, worked at BCMS since the school’s inception. Miss Pearl’s niece, Miss Soumya, worked in Miss Pearl’s class for four years before taking over as Head Teacher and Miss Evelyn has been at BCMS for over a decade. As mentioned before, our Director Amanda Riccetti has touched every role within the school and this understanding helps her keep the tenure of her staff, which directly relates to the emotional security of each child in our care.
Q: How is it that we have no teacher turnover?
A: BCMS has three mixed age classrooms; ages 2½ to 6. There are approximately 35 children per classroom with a ratio of 1:8 per classroom.
Q: How are kids grouped?
What is the teacher to child ratio?
A: We have AMI certified Montessori Preschool teachers. The Montessori Program has both a curriculum and a philosophy. This distinguishes Montessori from traditional preschools.
Q: What is your educational philosophy?
A: We serve a nutritious, "home-cooked" lunch daily. We offer a vegetarian menu, and will accommodate special dietary needs. We also serve two healthy snacks per day; morning and afternoon. We do not serve breakfast, however, parents who drop their children off before 8 a.m. are welcome to send breakfast to school with their child.
Q: What meals are provided?
Questions about the Montessori Method
A: The Montessori classroom is carefully prepared with a variety of materials and activities to satisfy the youngest two-year-old to the most advanced six-year-old.
After the group lesson, children are invited for free time. The child is free to move about the classroom at will, to talk to other children, to work with any equipment that he or she understands. The child may ask a teacher to introduce a new material or a teacher may invite a student for a lesson. A child is not free to disturb other children or to misuse the materials.
Q: My friend told me that Montessori allows a child to do whatever he wants to do, for as long as he wants to do it. Is this true?
A: There are few causes for discipline in a Montessori classroom. However, if discipline is necessary, at BCMS, we have two approaches:
- First, most problems occur because the child has not found work which is sufficiently interesting to hold their attention. In this case, the child would be redirected to a new activity. Occasionally, new activities are designed to specifically meet a particular child’s needs.
- Second, a child may be asked to be removed from the group to a space, within the classroom, designated as the “quiet spot” to take a few minutes to “quiet his / her body.” We show the children how to calm themselves down and regain control during circle time at the beginning of each year and individual children may have repeated lessons. The child may return when he or she feels “quieted.”
Q: How do you handle discipline?
A: Socializing and learning to share come very naturally in a Montessori classroom. A child here does not have to share his or her work. No one is allowed to touch another’s work unless invited to do so. As you look around the room you will see many children working together.
Many times children become so excited about what they are able to do that they want to give a lesson or demonstration to someone else. Throughout the day there are opportunities for this natural, spontaneous socializing.
The children are also comfortable with children of all ages and do not feel that they must stay with children of their own age. It is very appropriate for a child to spend time alone. This does not mean they are lonely. In Montessori terms this is called “nesting”. When the child is ready he will leave the “nest” and join the other children.
Q: How do the children learn to socialize and share?
A: Montessori children are unusually adaptable. They have learned to work independently and in groups. Since they have been encouraged to make decisions from an early age, these children are problem-solvers who can make choices and manage their time well.
They have also been encouraged to exchange ideas and to discuss their work freely with others. These communication skills ease the way in new settings.
Research has shown that the best predictor of future success is a sense of self-esteem. Montessori programs, based on self-directed, non-competitive activities, help children develop good self-images and the confidence to face challenges and change with optimism.
Q: How do children do in other schools after a Montessori education?
A: There is no legal way to prevent any unethical person from labeling any early childhood program “Montessori.” Beware of schools that call themselves “alternative Montessori” or “progressive Montessori.” Chances are they are not Montessori at all – they may use the material, but do not have certified Montessori teachers. Any Director should be able to answer and understand the Montessori Method, and their staff should have certified AMI/AMS teachers. And last, but not least, in order to know the difference, parents should be informed about the Montessori Method.
Q: How do I know if a school is a “true” Montessori School?