Here at Brisbane Montessori School we understand you may have many questions regarding the Montessori philosophy, curriculum and general schooling questions, which is why we have compiled a comprehensive list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) during the enrolment process. While we have done our best to cover a range of topics and queries, if you have any additional questions or require any further information, our friendly enrolments team is always here to assist you. You can contact them via telephone on 07 3327 0600 or via email enrolments@bms.qld.edu.au

General Questions Regarding Curriculum, Student Support and Student Behaviour.
Does Brisbane Montessori School follow the Australian National Curriculum?

Brisbane Montessori School delivers the Montessori National Curriculum, which was approved by ACARA (Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority), which is the body that developed and approved the Australian National Curriculum. The Montessori National Curriculum is designed to give students the same content knowledge as those following the Australian National Curriculum, with the understanding that the activities and methods of learning may not be the same. This means that when your child graduates from our school at the end of Year 9 or Year 10, they will have the same knowledge as their peers across Australia at the same age level in a mainstream setting, just having learnt it differently.

More information on this process can be found on the ACARA website here

Are Montessori students left do what they want each day?

The short answer is no. Montessori is all about students taking responsibility for their own learning – within boundaries. The boundaries (physical or otherwise) expand as the students become older and more independent. So, this means, that while a student can choose what they want to do at a particular time or on a particular day, it will be from a limited selection of choices. The Class Director will ensure that over time, no area of the curriculum is being ignored. 

Maria Montessori wrote about ‘Sensitive Periods’ in students aged up to 6 years old. During their first six years of life, children move through five main categories of sensitive periods, including order, language, sensory skills, movement, and social skills. Each sensitive period lasts for as long as it is necessary for a child to complete a particular stage in their development. These periods of special sensitivity are only temporary and fade once the aim is accomplished. It is an important aspect of a Montessori classroom that students have the freedom to develop their own skills within these sensitive periods.

For older students, they have the freedom to work for as long as they want or need to on a particular project without interruption. They are also able to take a break when they need to. Think about how you go about your work as an adult – ideally, we like to work on a task without interruption and we can take a bathroom break, lunch or snack break when we need to without asking for permission first. This is how we encourage our students to work and to learn – it fosters their independence and instils a love of learning. It also encourages them to take responsibility for their own timetabling and prioritising from an early age.

If you don’t have punishments and rewards at the school, what do you do about students who are doing the wrong thing?

A fundamental part of Montessori education for all ages is ‘Grace and Courtesy’. The students discuss this concept in an age-appropriate manner from our toddler age groups all the way up to Middle School. Grace and Courtesy is about making sure the needs of everyone in the group are met and that social harmony is maintained. 

At Brisbane Montessori School, our core values of respect and responsibility underpin everything else. In our community, guidelines or rules establish a sense of membership, responsibility, safety, and respect towards others. Our school applies one principle to every situation: respect. Respect for self, others and the environment is expected of all members of our school community.

If students are not doing the right thing, the first step is to point out to them that what they are doing is affecting themselves, other people, or the environment. If necessary, staff will then work with them to help develop the skills to deal with the emotion that might be the cause. In our experience, if a problem is ongoing, there is usually an underlying cause that needs to be investigated. We look at how to fix the problems causing the behaviour, rather than just punishing bad behaviour.

My child is good at soccer/gymnastics/other competitive sport or program. Does Brisbane Montessori School take part in any intra-school competitions?

Brisbane Montessori School is a non-competitive environment. A fundamental part of the Montessori philosophy is for students to be motivated by the intrinsic satisfaction that comes from learning and success. This means all our sporting activities, including sports days and extra-curricular offerings, focus on learning and refining skills, as well as improving your own performance, rather than competing against others. We have students that perform at an elite level in a competitive sport or other area that attend Brisbane Montessori School and they pursue this competition through local clubs or other organisations.

Do you cater for students with special needs (including gifted students and students with a disability)?

The Montessori pedagogy is suitable for students of all learning styles and abilities. Students can learn at their own pace and spend extra time learning skills if required. Because of our mixed aged classrooms, we have students working at different levels at the same time. This allows students to work above or below their age level and not feel like they are doing special work.

If your child has a diagnosed disability, our Student Support team will work closely with you during the enrolment process and beyond to ensure your child is getting the support that they need. We have a number of student support staff who provide assistance to students in the classroom in a variety of ways, depending on their needs.

Children’s House
(Students aged 3 to 6 years old – this includes Year 1, Prep, Kindy, and pre-Kindy students, as well as Montessori Independent Toddler Community (for students aged 15 months to 3 years)
Can I claim Centrelink Benefits for my child’s fees?

Our programs for students younger than school aged are Approved Childcare programs. This means that you will be able to claim the Child Care Benefit if your child is Kindy or younger. For school aged students, you can claim the Child Care Benefit for our Before Montessori Program and After Montessori Program. This if for eligible parents and children only. Please contact Centrelink to check your eligibility. We also recommend making yourself familiar with our 2023 Financial Responsibilities document for more information.

My child hasn’t been to care or school before. Will they be ok?

Before your child starts in the classroom, your family will meet with the new Class Director to come up with the best transition plan. This will vary depending on your child and your family’s circumstances. For example, you might decide to just leave your child for one hour on the first day and then gradually build up their hours until their stamina allows them to attend the full program. We always stagger the start of new students in a classroom so that your child will be the only new child starting in the class on a particular day or week. That way, the Class Director can focus on ensuring that your child is settling well, and your child won’t be overwhelmed by the emotion of other new students starting at the same time. It allows for a smooth and calm transition into the Montessori classroom for both you and your child. Our staff will keep in close contact with you during the transition process.

What if my child isn’t quite ready to attend a full day at school?

For students younger than school age, there are a few different options for the hours of attendance. While the hours of operation for students aged 3 to 6 years are from 7.30am to 6.00pm, our main programs operate from 9.00am through to 3.00pm. Students younger than school age can be collected after the morning work cycle at 12.00pm, or after the lunch break at 12.45pm. We have a room where students who need a sleep in the afternoon can rest and nap. Younger students who don’t sleep in the afternoon can attend our Lilly Pilly program, for a more relaxed Montessori afternoon schedule, supported by fully trained Montessori staff. This allows the school-aged students in Children’s House to have a more intensive afternoon work cycle with their Montessori Class Directors.

Our younger students in our Montessori Independent Toddler Community (MITC) program can attend from 9.00am to 3.00pm or for the extended hours of 8.00am to 4.00pm. The students have a work cycle in the morning and sleep in the afternoon.

Can my child come and visit the classroom for a few days before he or she starts?

For students under the age of 6, we do not have classroom visits before they start their enrolment in the classroom. This is because it takes a few days or even weeks for younger students to settle and feel comfortable in their new environment. Once they have got to know the adults and fellow students in the room, it will start to feel like home for them. This positive experience in the Montessori classroom takes some time to develop and younger students do not have the judgement to know whether they are comfortable in an environment after a visit for a few hours.

Before your child starts in the classroom, you will all have a chance to meet his or her Class Director in their new classroom. We set this up for a time after school when the classroom is quiet so that your child can have some time to get to know their new teacher and the environment before meeting their new classmates. Another important aspect of starting in a Montessori environment is that we always stagger the start of new students in a classroom. That way, the Class Director can focus on ensuring that your child is settling well and won’t be overwhelmed by the emotion of other new students starting at the same time. It allows for a smooth and calm transition into the Montessori classroom for both you and your child.

Can I come into the classroom with my child when they start to help them settle?

The best way for your child to settle into the classroom as quickly and smoothly as possible is for them to understand what will happen each day, and to start as we mean to continue. We don’t recommend that parents/carers enter the classroom when dropping off as students then begin to expect that parents will stay with them or come in every day.

We encourage you to say goodbye to your child at the classroom door when greeted by their Class Director and to wish them well cheerfully and quickly before departing. Some students do cry when their parents first leave them, but the adults in the room are very experienced at dealing with this and will soon have them settled and working in the classroom. As a parent, it helps to remember that while witnessing those tears can be traumatic for us as an adult, they are usually quickly forgotten by the student. Most new students to a classroom have settled within the first five or ten minutes. Experience has shown that after the first day or so, once they have realised that you do come at the end of the day to pick them up, they will happily enter the classroom to be with their new friends.

Lower and Upper Primary, and Middle School
(Students aged 6 years to 15 years – Prep to Year 9 or 10)
How will I know if my child will successfully transition from mainstream school into a Montessori program?

A lot of students will come to Montessori because they are not challenged or excited by learning in a mainstream school. They will often thrive in the Montessori environment. The success or otherwise of the transition depends on the individual student and their learning style. The students who tend to thrive in Montessori are students who can be self-directed and work well without extrinsic motivation. Our Montessori trained staff will be able to guide them in their journey towards being an active member of their classroom and the school community.

Do you take part in any testing or examinations at the school?

The only testing that our Primary and Middle School students take part in is NAPLAN testing. This is the Australia-wide National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy for students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9. All students of these age groups prepare for the testing and practice working in a formal exam environment. While we feel it is important for all our students to learn to work in a test environment, like all other students their age, our school does not focus on NAPLAN testing the way that other schools do.

While we encourage our students to do their best and teach them the skills they will need to perform the exams, we do not place pressure on them. This is the only formal testing performed at our school. Our parents have the option to withdraw students from NAPLAN exams. For students who do participate, we teach them the process of learning how to do the tests as well as practicing working in an exam setting. This is an important skill for them to have once they leave the Montessori learning environment for the final years of schooling.

How do I know how well my child is going at school if you don’t do testing?

The Classroom Directors base their reporting of a student’s progress on observations of their work on a day-to-day basis. They keep copious records of the work each student does in class, using software designed for Montessori schools called Transparent Classroom. School-age students receive two reports per year, based on Class Director observations. Our experience is, that at any given time, our Montessori Class Directors have a very good understanding of where each student is up to in the curriculum for all subject areas – they do not need to rely on a snapshot in time that a standard test would provide.

How do students who graduate from a Montessori program transition into mainstream schooling or other learning environments?

The Brisbane Montessori Middle School program provides individualised instruction to all students. There are a relatively small number of students in the program, which means that our teaching staff can work closely with each student to thoroughly prepare them for their transition to a new learning environment.

Is there homework in a Montessori school?

For our Primary School students, typically there is no set homework. Brisbane Montessori students complete their learning during school hours. The Montessori philosophy believes the time after school and on the weekend should be used for other activities, including physical outdoor activities, and enjoying spending time with the family. It is important for school-aged students to make a positive contribution to their household and family, so instead of homework, we expect students to be assisting with household chores and learning the skills to become independent adults, like cooking, doing the laundry or gardening, etc.

Once students are in Middle School, their workload will increase, and it will be expected that some work will need to be completed at home. This is also an important part of the transition process into those final years of High School.