Frequently Asked Questions
What are the benefits of learning two languages?
It is estimated that between half and two thirds of the world’s population is bilingual or multilingual. There are more native Spanish speakers in the world than native English speakers, with 21 countries speaking Spanish. Furthermore, 13.3% of people in the United States speak Spanish. Therefore, becoming fluent in both English and Spanish is a valuable skill. Research shows that continuing to develop a child’s native language doesn’t interfere with English acquisition...it facilitates it! Being bilingual has social, cognitive, economic and personal benefits. Some of the advantages of being bilingual include:
- Intellectual Benefits: Students who are learning a new language need to continue their intellectual development while they are building English fluency. Dual language education ensures that students do not have to wait the build content knowledge while they learn a new language. Furthermore, knowing more than one language increases a person’s attention span, flexibility, and problem solving skills.
- Educational Benefits: Research shows that both English and Spanish speaking students often outperform their non-bilingual peers in academic measures. Furthermore, once a person has learned a second language, it becomes easier to learn even more languages.
- Personal Benefits: A person’s language forms their identity. By becoming bilingual, students learn to value the cultures associated with both languages which lead to positive self-concepts, especially for speakers of the less dominant language.
- Social Benefits: Bilingual students are able to nurture important relationships to family members and to their heritage community. They have the ability to interact with others who speak both languages, both in the United States and across the world.
- Economic Benefits: The ability to read, write and speak in two or more languages is in great demand throughout the world and locally. From 2005 to 2017, Polk County, Florida saw its Hispanic population grow by 114.51%, more than doubling. This is a growing trend in the United States, as well. Being able to speak both English and Spanish provides a wider field of career opportunities.
What are the benefits of a Montessori education?
The Montessori approach to education emphasizes respect for children and their developmental, social-emotional and linguistic needs. Our school strives to provide a balance between choice and freedom while providing essential structure and limits. Because students spend three years in the same classroom with the same teacher, they benefit from being both the youngest and oldest student in the class, receiving powerful peer mentoring in their first year and providing leadership in their last year in a classroom. They are provided with a big picture view which integrates their learning from year to year. Furthermore, they develop close, supportive relationships with their teaching staff and classmates in their learning community. Students in a Montessori classroom receive individualized instruction in fundamental skills which means that if they are struggling, they are provided interventions, and if they need more challenges, they can move on to the next level of instruction. In addition to strong academics, students receive support in developing time management, personal responsibility, social skills, flexibility, empathy and perseverance.
My child doesn’t speak any Spanish. Will he or she feel frustrated in a Spanish environment?
All of the Spanish speaking teachers at Mi Escuela Montessori are bilingual teachers. In the Primary classrooms, students are given the majority of their instruction in Spanish, however, in the beginning of the year, teachers will be very conscious of building an emotional connection with your child. Then, gradually, they will speak more and more to your child in Spanish. The Montessori classroom is highly visual and tactile. Most of the lessons have pictures, models, or objects. Songs are often taught in both English and Spanish. In addition, Mi Escuela Montessori classrooms are multi-age and multi-cultural. There are always older students and bilingual peers who are willing and interested in translating for each other. In the Elementary classrooms, students are given balanced instruction, 50% in English and 50% in Spanish. The teachers in these two classrooms carefully coordinate their instruction to bridge the two languages together. Students read, write, experiment, calculate and more in both English and Spanish. Students are coached on how to support their classmates language development in both environments.
State mandated tests are given in English. How will my child learn to read and write in English?
The goal in our Primary classrooms is to immerse students in Spanish for their first two years in order to build a strong foundation in the language that is less common in society. Spanish is taught in the morning, and English is presented in the afternoon to non-napping students. English instruction targets Kindergarten literacy. Beginning first grade, students alternate days between English only and Spanish only environments. Teachers in both classrooms carefully track student progress on a program which helps them coordinate learning content and skills between the two languages. Multiple studies have shown that students in dual language immersion (DLI) outperform their non-DLI peers by 5th grade in reading in both languages. Students who require additional support in either language are provided additional small group support and intervention.
What is the daily schedule like?
Students in Montessori classrooms are given two work cycles. A work cycle is a large block of uninterrupted time, generally three hours in the morning and another two hours in the afternoon. (Younger children who nap During their work cycles, students independently select work, often guided by a goal plan developed together with their teacher, serve themselves a snack, or work independently or with peers. Students are given individual or small group instruction in practical life skills, reading, writing, math, and content areas. At all ages, students are given a daily circle time during which grace and courtesy lessons, songs, short, age appropriate whole group lessons, and quality literature read aloud are presented. Students are provided outdoor time to exercise and play every day.
I've heard that children in Montessori classrooms have freedom to do whatever they want. What if my child chooses not to do math (or reading)? Or what if my child chooses to misbehave?
Mistakenly, people assume that the child in the Montessori classroom has no limits and can, in effect, do whatever he or she wants. In Montessori classrooms, children are given freedom within limits. Students may not damage property, use materials inappropriately, or interfere with the learning of others. They are expected to act responsibly, treat classmates and adults with respect, set learning goals (together with the teacher) and follow through on their promises to themselves. Students who honor their commitments to themselves and their own learning are given freedom to choose where to work, which goals to work on first, and with whom to work. Students are not allowed to choose not to complete core instruction, however they are given choices on what topics to research, which books to read, and which area of math to address. They are expected to follow writing prompts, read books at their “just right” challenge level, and complete math goals daily. Children do not develop the ability to discipline themselves without the opportunity to actually make choices and sometimes make mistakes. When a student has a pattern of not making positive choices, he or she is given additional support. For example, the student may lose his or her freedom of movement for a time within the classroom, be given additional adult supervision in meeting learning goals, or be given an assigned seat.