Updated: Oct 28, 2022
Guidepost Montessori offers your child an exceptionally personalized learning experience, meeting your child where they are, and guiding them to where they want to be
As one of the most widely recognized and tested forms of early childhood education, Montessori prepares children for the twenty-first century by equipping them with the skills they need to flourish in a constantly changing world. From academic readiness – including language, math, sensorial, cultural, and practical life advancement – to developing strong and meaningful social skills, Montessori provides children with a foundation on which to thrive.
Most importantly, Montessori recognizes that there cannot be only one way to learn – any more than there cannot be only one way to teach – and works directly with your child’s individual needs and interests.
The experiences children have from birth to around six years old lay the foundations for their future behavior, health, abilities, and interests as adults. In essence, early childhood helps to determine the overall trajectory of human life. Making the decision to send your child to preschool requires serious consideration, not just because it might be the first time your child spends a significant amount of time away from home, but because of the profound effect that preschool can have on a child's growth and development. While Montessori schools and traditional preschools both strive to meet the needs of young children, the methods they use to meet those needs — and the resulting outcomes — are worlds apart.
Guidepost Montessori offers your child an exceptionally personalized learning experience, meeting your child where they are, and taking them to where they want to be. Recognizing that everyone learns differently and at their own pace, Guidepost Montessori provides hands-on learning opportunities for every child.
Developing lasting relationships with their peers and guides, relationships that extend beyond the walls of the schools, Guidepost Montessori will work with you to help your child develop their independence and confidence, two critical characteristics needed to pursue their interests.
While our Guidepost Montessori schools in Hong Kong have its own authentic culture, the network of 90+ schools globally benefit greatly from the other, constantly learning from one another’s parent communities. The educators continue to evolve, too, working closely with our Prepared Montessorian team, an internal professional development platform that provides the practicing Montessori educator with tools, resources, mentorship, and inspiration needed to thrive both in and out of the classroom.
Having developed best-in-class practices across the organization and refining the curriculum and experience, Guidepost Montessori works closely with families to develop all capabilities in the students.
Student outcome: What happens when a child attends Montessori school
While young children show no significant difference in intelligence levels at the beginning of preschool, children enrolled in Montessori schools advance at a higher rate in terms of reading, vocabulary, and numerical understanding. Two major external factors which affect children’s academic development usually result in a large achievement gap between the most successful and least successful child in the class: family income and executive functioning skills (such as working memory and self-control). Astonishingly, not only do children who attend Montessori schools set the bar higher in terms of academic achievement, but the achievement gap also decreases — so children from less affluent families and who lack executive functioning skills essentially “catch up” with the rest of the class.
Social and emotional development
According to Professor of Psychology Angeline Lillard, children who attend Montessori schools have better playground interactions than children in traditional settings. Also, studies that have included tests that predict social competence later in life also show that children who attend Montessori schools generally give more intricate answers to social problems. One example offered by Lillard's study (published in 2017) was a brainteaser where preschool-aged children were asked how they'd negotiate with another child in order to access a precious resource, such as a swing set. Well-considered responses included, I'd ask her to take turns — she could use it for 10 minutes, then I'd use it for 10 minutes, which formed a high contrast with less sophisticated answers like, I'd tell the teacher.
Researchers have shown concern that high academic achievement in Montessori schools may come at the sacrifice of children enjoying school. However, children who attend Montessori schools generally derive more enjoyment from scholarly tasks than children who attend traditional schools.
Preparation for life beyond school
With famous Montessori graduates like Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Google creators Larry Page and Sergey Brin, researchers have speculated that Montessori schools help set children up for success by aiding their development of lifelong skills, such as mastery orientation and a friendly relationship with error. This greatly differs from traditional preschools, which emphasize rote memorization and reward/punishment systems.
Children who attend Montessori schools are also more likely to take on challenging tasks when given the choice, as they start to become cognizant of the relationship between taking on difficult tasks and growing as a human being. This is called mastery orientation or a growth mindset, which is something even adults strive for: the desire for self-improvement.
Operational style: How Montessori schools and traditional preschools function day-to-day
When you walk into a Montessori classroom for the first time, you will be struck by the feeling of calm it exudes. Quiet, minimal, and uncluttered, each classroom is designed to appeal to the young child's sense of order, desire to work, and appreciation for beauty. The lack of noise will seem conspicuous at first, but you will start to notice the low hum of the industry as children move freely around the room — some engaging in conversation, some working alone; some sitting at desks, others on the floor. You may wonder where the teacher is, and why all the desks aren't facing the blackboard. Indeed, Montessori schools are run in a completely different way to traditional preschools.
Learning materials and classroom design that encourage active exploration
In a Montessori classroom, the child finds himself surrounded by learning materials that have been scientifically designed to appeal to his social and cognitive developmental needs. He is free to try different activities during the morning and afternoon work cycles, which are designated periods of time where the child will not be disturbed by the teacher, other children, or group activities. This helps the child develop concentration, willpower, and independence. Preschool environments, on the other hand, are designed to entertain and tend to contain bright colors, poster-covered walls, noisy battery-powered toys, and furniture that children can't use by themselves, such as coat pegs that are too high to reach.
Age segregation in schools has become the social norm, and traditional schools tend to follow that model by keeping all the two-year-olds together, all the three-year-olds, and so on. Montessori schools, on the other hand, contain mixed-age environments, such as the Children's House, which caters to children who are 3 to 6 years old. This helps develop a spirit of community and collaboration within the classroom, as children and educators alike realize that there are differences in each child's interests, ability, and level of development. Children enter the Children's House at 3 years old and feel inspired by the work of their older peers. As they grow and start to master the challenges and activities the classroom has in store, they develop into the six-year-old leaders they once looked up to, embracing opportunities to lead and teach their younger classmates.
Children can freely choose what to work on and where to work, so long as they use the learning materials for their designated purpose. With the freedom to move and choose, children develop internal discipline and social awareness. Most Montessori learning materials are intentionally scarce (one set for each classroom), and so children start to realize that when they are working on a particular set of materials, they have prevented another child from working on them. This helps give them the motivation to treat communal objects with care and to put them back when they are finished so that someone else can use them afterward. In most preschool settings, children do not choose what they engage with throughout the day but are given set activities at set times, like circle time in the morning and painting after lunch, with no consideration for each individual child's preference.
A teacher whose job is to guide, not lead
Rather than impose her own will upon the children, the teacher chooses her moments of instruction wisely, offering lessons and presentations at suitable junctures in each child’s development, in order to maximize the amount of independent learning the child can achieve. (That’s why we call our teachers “guides”.) The guide’s goal is to actively nurture and support her students in what is fundamentally a child-directed process of development.
Independent learning by the child
While the guide gives lessons and presentations, adult-led activities do not form the majority of the class time, as the guide's aim is to connect the child with his environment, showing him how to use the learning materials, and in some cases, showing him how to evaluate his work so that he does not need anyone to correct his errors. This allows for large chunks of peaceful, uninterrupted time where each child can engage in activities that interest them. In most preschool settings, a child who is engrossed in an activity will actually have their concentration broken in order to join a group activity, like circle time, and is expected to get all their learning from the teacher’s lessons.
Individual lesson plans
Though the child will not be aware of this, his guide will have an individually tailored lesson plan for each day that he attends Montessori school. There are set areas of the curriculum the guide will deem fit for covering, which she will then weigh up with the child's level of development and sensitivities so that she can make the lesson as appealing as possible - aiming to encourage independent learning by the child once the lesson is finished. This differs from most preschool arrangements, which follow a set curriculum of lessons to be given to individuals or groups at set times, regardless of children's interests.