Q. Can Princeton Montessori School students compete in the real world?
A. They excel. We prepare children for an unpredictable world, by facilitating the development of self-confidence, life skills, critical thinking, independence, knowledge, and character. We support self-motivation over peer competitiveness as a much more effective tool of personal accomplishment. Our graduates enter and succeed at the most-demanding high schools and colleges.
Q. Do your students take standardized tests?
A. No. Since standardized tests primarily examine a narrow curriculum in a restrictive format, they are inconclusive rather than definitive. Our curriculum is broad and our requirement is mastery, not adherence to a particular style of learning. Student progress is assessed by teachers on a daily basis, beginning in the Elementary years, through the review and assessment of each student’s portfolio. We also begin mastery testing of mathematical facts and spelling in the Elementary years and of subject content in the Middle School. Our emphasis remains on personal improvement rather than peer competition.
Q. How do we measure our students’ progress?
A. Princeton Montessori School uses authentic measures in the elementary classrooms to assess the progress of each student. In the Middle School program, students are assessed using a combination of authentic and traditional assessment methods. With authentic assessment, students are asked to perform real-world tasks that demonstrate meaningful application of essential knowledge and skills. Authentic assessment allows for more recall and application of information, not just the more simplistic recognition of information which typically can drive many traditional curriculums. By comparison, with traditional assessment students are asked to merely select an answer or recall information to complete a written assessment using “forced-choice measures” of multiple-choice, matching, fill-in-the-blanks, and true-false test formats. Our curriculum, paired with the authentic form of true assessment, provides the deepest and most lasting types of learning.
Q. What do the older students get out of a multiage class structure?
A. Curriculum in a multiage setting is not static; older students can delve as far into a subject as they are able to, while younger students explore subjects at their own level. Older students also “learn what they know” while gaining self-esteem in the role of mentor to the younger students.
Q. Do you offer competitive team sports?
A. Our philosophy in all subject areas is to teach skills for life. We see our role in physical education as one that teaches all students—not just the best athletes—the value and enjoyment of fitness and movement. Students gain confidence in and control of their bodies through exercise, body awareness activities, movement, and basic sports skills.
Q. What computer education do you provide?
A. Computers and the Internet are integrated into the daily learning experience of Princeton Montessori School students on an age-appropriate basis. In the early years, computers are available as an activity choice in the classroom. By the Elementary and Middle School years, students learn word processing and Internet research skills as part of an integrated curriculum. Older students use iPads to enhance learning.
Q. What is the ratio of teachers to students in the classroom?
A. It varies by developmental stage, from Infant through Middle School, but there is always more than one teacher per class. The average ratio always falls within the range of one teacher per three to 10 students. Overall, there are approximately 60 teachers for 300 students, assisted by a prepared environment that encourages students to do much for themselves.
Q. Are all Montessori schools alike?
A. No. Montessori is a philosophy and method of education, not a franchise. Each school operates independently. Princeton Montessori School is unique in the way it interprets this philosophy for the community it serves, and in its leadership, vision, staff credentials, and stability.
Q. Does the school provide religious training?
A. No. However, there is a spiritual component to the Montessori philosophy, which recognizes and respects the whole child, including an inner self, where issues of character and civic virtues reside and require nurturing.