Commonly asked questions

The main difference is the attitude the adults have toward children. Adults in a Montessori setting are respectful toward children. This respect is manifested in many ways. For example, in order to lift and carry an infant to the changing table, the adults do not just pick up the child. Instead, the adults talk with the child, explaining that they are going to lift the child to take her to the changing table. At the changing table, the adult gives her attention to the child, naming the child’s body parts and explaining the steps taken to change the diaper. Although the infant is not able to talk with the adult, the infant feels the love and caring the adult has toward her. At the same time, the adults are exposing the infant to the language. Children experience the same kind of respect in the Toddler Community and Primary community. Of course, the manifestation of respect changes according to the age of the child. The adults respect older children by respecting their need and desire for independence. Adults learn how to patiently wait for the child to help himself.
The first six years of life are the most important years in helping a child to develop to his highest potential. It has been proven that the rest of our lives are very much based on these crucial years. Since a Montessori environment is based on the natural instincts and needs of children, it helps them during these important years to develop a strong foundation through encouraging independence, self confidence, and self esteem.
The mixed age group Montessori education pattern is designed such that the full advantage is derived only when your child completes the entire 3 years cycle up to 6 or 7 years of age (depending upon his date of birth and school year/session). Withdrawing your child earlier will limit and/or curtail the full benefit of creating the necessary foundation. Remember the most assimilating brain years in a child are up to 6 years. So why cut the experience short? In fact Principals and Administrators of public/private Elementary schools report that Montessori students transition well into Elementary levels as compared with other students who have not. Also other parents bear testimony to the fact that they find their children having completed 3-6 year Primary program to be more mature ad better prepared to take on the rigors of higher education. Our students have the wonderful experience of a smooth transition, wherever they choose to pursue Elementary. It is strongly recommended that each student who begins Primary program must complete the full breadth of DMS Primary program to derive full advantage.
In most schools children are taught educational concepts in a group by a teacher. In a Montessori school the children learn concepts as they work independently with the many materials in the environment. It is more interactive, collaborative and peer to peer, yet individualized learning. As natural instinct, children have the urge to focus and concentrate on practical, useful work. As motivated learners with “absorbent minds,” children derive joy in self-choosing activities that are conducive to their personal learning. Guides as Montessori educators carefully craft the environment.
Collaborative or peer to peer learning is the hallmark of Montessori education. Mixed-age groups allow younger students to learn from older students who become role models. It also allows older students to begin practicing empathy and leadership while they interact with their young peers.

In a Montessori Primary program (3-6 years), lessons are presented to an individual child while other children can observe if they are interested. In this way, the Guide addresses specific needs of the child and responds to his/her interest to attain a level of understanding. It also facilitates interpersonal communication which is so critical in life.

The Montessori Method of Education is basically a unique approach to learning. Rather than “teaching” the child concepts, an environment is designed to stimulate the child’s interest and facilitate his understanding and learning capacities spontaneously—with little or no adult intervention.
The main purpose of the Montessori Method is to develop environments where the child can unfold spontaneously and manifest the greater person within. According to Maria Montessori, “The child is the father of the man.” As the child begins to develop this inner self, his love of life and learning expands continuously.
The Montessori classroom is a child-sized world. Whatever is in the world outside can be incorporated meaningfully in the Montessori classroom. To a child, the world is unmanageable—it is too big, too complex and too confusing. By careful selection of materials the Guide sets up an environment that allows the child a place to explore life on a level he can understand. The materials or exercises are designed to stimulate independent exploration. This prepared environment entices the child to proceed at his own pace from simple activities to more complex ones. Through this process, the child’s natural curiosity is satisfied and he begins to experience the job of discovering the world about him. Materials and curriculum center around Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, Math, and Cultural Studies.
As the children develop their sense of pride in their “work,” a feeling of confidence, well-being and joy begins to manifest itself in the child. A classroom of Montessori children is a joy to watch. There seems to be a spirit of respect, love and cooperation among the children that is not found very often.
The Montessori teacher is called a Guide because she facilitates the classroom activity. She carefully plans the environment in the interests of the children and she helps the children progress from one activity to the next. She is trained to deal with each child individually, allowing him to choose from many activities within his range of ability. She stands back while a child is working and allows him the satisfaction of his own discovery.
The concept of freedom in the classroom is a freedom within limits. A child is allowed to work freely so long as he does not disturb others. Actually, children having the freedom to follow their interests are generally happy and busily involved in their work.
Maria Montessori outlined various periods of “sensitivity.” During these times, a child is more capable of and interested in learning specific concepts. The Montessori curriculum is divided into different levels in order to meet the changing needs of children at different stages of development. Children may start in our Nido Community as early as six weeks of age. Children remain in the Nido Community until they are about 16 months of age. Beginning around 10 months of age many children experience separation anxiety. For these children it can be difficult to start in the Nido Community and then make the transition to Toddler Community just a few months later. We therefore recommend that older infants who experience separation anxiety wait until they are ready to join Toddler Community, so they need only make one transition. Around 3 years a special sense of order, concentration, coordination, and independence begin to emerge. This is the ideal time for a child to begin in the Children’s House program as it is the perfect period to build a strong foundation for future learning.
Montessori School tuition rates are middle of the range. Parents need to be careful when comparing various programs to make sure that they are comparing similar factors. DMS offers all-day, year-round Montessori programs for all ages, which means that the Montessori teachers are with children all day to ensure they are receiving the appropriate help. Moreover, we are a year-round program to ensure continuity and consistency in our children’s lives. At DMS our annual tuition is calculated by multiplying the number of days (and hours per day) in a school year by an hourly rate. The most accurate way to compare rates is to compare hourly rates. Other factors such as the level of education of teachers and the quality of the physical environment should also be taken into account when making comparisons.
Yes, Decatur Montessori School is certified by Association Montessori International (AMI).
A Bachelors degree is required in order to enroll in the teacher training to become a certified teacher. The training is usually an intensive one year program completed over multiple summers. Students attend lectures for the first two months on a full time basis. Afterwards, the students go to the institute in the afternoons to learn the appropriate lessons. During the year, the students visit Montessori schools for observation and for practice teaching.
One of the things that Dr. Montessori discovered in her work with children was that they go through a series of developmental stages, during which they exhibit different patterns of learning. The first stage is the period from birth to age six, during which children seem to absorb everything in their environment. At around age six, children begin to be able to think abstractly; they become interested in working together in groups, and in discovering all the wonders of the cosmos. This stage of development stretches roughly from age six to twelve, when a new stage of development marked by the onset of puberty and an increased interest in finding one’s place in society begins. 
It has been found that children who move out of Montessori environments at the conclusion of one of these stages of development have a much easier transition than children who move in the middle of a developmental cycle. 

Graduates from our school have gone on to public schools, other Montessori schools, or non-Montessori private schools. They have done well in their new environments and their new teachers have given us feedback that the children were very well prepared both socially and academically for the challenges ahead of them.

We encourage families who are considering a Montessori environment to think long-term. In Atlanta there are Montessori schools that serve children through elementary and even middle school. The longer the children are in a Montessori environment, the easier the transition to a non-Montessori school tends to be.

DMS experience primarily is ingrained in and echoes the principles and guidelines of AMI (Association Montessori Internationale) schools aligned with the Montessori philosophy and concepts laid out by Maria Montessori. DMS prides on its diverse culture and ethnic blend giving children a global perspective. Emphasis on Spanish as second language and enrichment activities Soccer, Music, Yoga, Arts, Crafts, Painting empowers children with focus, concentration and accentuates the joy of learning. DMS respects working parents and therefore offers year- round full-day (even extended hours) schedules to facilitate drop and pick-up. Summer camps also engage children in interesting educational pursuits. Above all, a home like environment amidst the natural unconventional ambience creates a friendly and comfortable atmosphere of learning for all age groups 6 weeks thru 6 years.

Children’s developmental characteristics change as they come to the end of their stay in a particular program. After they have attained certain milestones pertaining to Infants (between 16-18 months), the children transition to Toddler program. In Toddler community, DMS works towards toilet independence, 3-step directions etc. , they transition to Primary program. These benchmarks have been tried and tested over a century and have proven effective. As levels of personal independence and social readiness grow they transition and continue their growth where the environment supports their natural tendency and enthusiasm for larger concepts and abstract thinking.