Questions about Hollis Montessori School

Here are a few of the questions that families frequently ask about Hollis Montessori School and the admissions process. If you don't see your question here, please contact us.

+ How many students are enrolled at Hollis Montessori?

We currently have 120 students from age 2½ through 9th grade.

+ Is there space available?

We have the greatest number of openings in the fall for children ages 2½-3 years old, but spaces fill up quickly! We have some openings in our Upper School program and we have a very limited number of openings in our other programs. Please inquire for the most up to date information.

+ May I visit?

Yes! We encourage parents to visit the school and observe in our classrooms. Please contact us to schedule a visit.

+ May I bring my child with me when I visit?

We request that parents visit without their children the first time (small infants are welcome). This will allow you to observe in our classrooms without the distraction of tending to your own child. Your child will have the opportunity to visit the school during the admissions process. We also host three Open House events over the course of the school year that children are welcome to attend.

+ Is previous Montessori experience required?

Previous Montessori experience is not necessary for admission to our Upper School program or for an entering 2½-3 year old. It is recommended for children who are 4 and older, but it is not always necessary. In all admission decisions we carefully consider each child's unique background before determining admission and placement.

+ Do you offer a kindergarten program?

Not in the traditional sense. The Children's House program is for children age 2½ to 6. The final year of this three-year program serves students of the same age as a traditional kindergarten class.

+ Do you offer after school care?

Not at this time.

+ Do you have a summer program?

Not yet.

+ Do you have a foreign language program?

Yes. Hollis Montessori offers Spanish beginning in our Primary program at age 3 and extending into Elementary. In addition to studying the Spanish language, the curriculum is also supplemented with Spanish culture, history, and food.

Our Upper School students work to develop fluency in Spanish, meeting four times each week. Classes are taught entirely in Spanish. Vocabulary and concepts are integrated with the central themes being explored in the other subject areas. Students working upon non-Spanish tasks with our Spanish instructor work to converse in Spanish. Just as in other courses of study, students take trips away from school to develop and employ concepts introduced in school, in this case to places where Spanish is spoken. A Spanish 1 (or Spanish 2, dependent upon achievement) grade is given on 9th grade transcripts for one credit.

Some Upper School students, in their free time (lunch, after school) also learn to read Latin. However, no grades or credit are given.

+ How well do children transition to a traditional school after attending Hollis Montessori?

Moving from a Montessori school to another school setting is an issue often raised by parents and family members. Happily, the habits and skills a child develops at Hollis Montessori last a lifetime and students are well prepared no matter where they go. Montessori children tend to be adaptable, working well alone or in a group. They have solid decision-making skills, practical problem solving abilities, and generally manage their time well. Since children in a Montessori classroom are also encouraged to share ideas and discuss their work, fitting into new situations is made easier thanks to good communication skills.

Questions about the Montessori Method

The number of Montessori schools in the U.S. is growing (AMI reported 7% membership growth last year alone), and key Montessori ideas are being integrated into many public schools and universities. Along with growing interest and acceptance, there are also questions and misconceptions. Here are some of the questions we hear most often.

+ Montessori is a preschool system, isn't it?

Montessori schools may be best known for their programs with young children, but the underlying educational method describes programs for students up through high school.

+ Are Montessori schools religious?

No. Montessori educates children without reference to religious denomination. As a result, Montessori classrooms are diverse, with representation from all peoples, cultures and religions.

+ What are some differences between traditional learning methods and the Montessori method?

There are many differences, including:

  • Montessori programs work on three-year cycles. Children stay in the same classroom and have the same teacher for three years.
  • Montessori classrooms have children of mixed ages. Multi-age classrooms encourage cooperative learning and allow for broad emotional and social development.
  • Because children develop and master skills at their own pace, Montessori students work according to their developmental levels rather than their biological ages.
  • The primary role of the Montessori teacher is not the transmission of information, but rather to nurture development and to guide activities, resources, and materials that allow the child to take the next step in learning.
  • Montessori students are always free to move around the classroom instead of staying at desks. There is no limit to how long a child can work on a lesson, and the lessons are taught to one student or to a small group of students.
  • The Montessori teaching materials are unique. Most were developed by Dr. Montessori to meet specific developmental needs of children of different ages.

  • I hear the children calling their lessons "work". Do the children have fun?


The term "work" is used in the classrooms to give dignity and respect to the students' activities. Their time is spent on purposeful lessons. The children have free choice to decide what work they will complete. They have many options, and are empowered to do what interests them most. And yes, they do have fun! Maria Montessori said "Play is the work of the child."

+ Montessori classrooms look so different. Where are the students' desks? Where do the teachers stand?

The different arrangement of a Montessori classroom mirrors the difference in Montessori education from traditional education. Rather than putting the teacher at the focal point of the class, with children dependent on her for information and activity, the classroom shows a literally child-centered approach. Children work at tables or on floor mats where they can spread out their materials, and the teacher circulates about the room, giving lessons, answering questions or resolving issues as they arise.

+ Why is the Preschool and Kindergarten classroom sometimes referred to as "The Children's House"?

Maria Montessori called her first school in Rome the "Casa dei Bambini", or the "Children's House". It truly was just that. Everything was designed for 3 to 6 year olds, with child-size furniture and materials. To this day, Montessori preschool & kindergarten classrooms around the world are referred to as Children's House classrooms.

+ Aren't Montessori children free to do whatever they want in the classroom? How do you ensure that each one gets a well rounded education?

Montessori children are free to choose within limits, and have only as much freedom as they can handle with appropriate responsibility. The classroom teacher and assistant ensure that children do not interfere with each other, and that each child is progressing at an appropriate pace in all subjects.

+ Are Montessori schools as academically challenging as traditional schools?

Yes. Montessori classrooms encourage deep learning of the concepts behind academic skills rather than rote practice of abstract techniques.

+ Without objective measurements like grades, how do you assess a Montessori child's performance?

Classroom teachers keep extensive records of lessons given and work practiced, and also offer the benefit of their individualized observations of the child’s work in the classroom. Parents of children at all levels at Hollis Montessori meet at least twice a year in conference with their children's teachers to learn more about classroom work and behavior.

+ Is it true Montessori schools have no textbooks and no homework?

Montessori education is hands-on; children work with specially designed materials in the classroom before learning abstract pencil-and-paper methods. As students grow into the Upper Elementary and Upper School years, written resources make more and more appearances, though usually in the form of novels or reference books. Students tend to do their own research rather than relying on a class textbook’s descriptions.

Montessori homework does not necessarily show up on worksheets or on assignment pages at the end of each day, but yes, Montessori schools do have homework. Many activities are considered to be appropriate homework. These include activities such as reading, keeping a garden, taking music lessons, taking a hike, keeping a journal, or playing a sport. It’s considered important not to over-schedule a child’s time and to leave plenty of time for free play. In addition to this work, students may be asked to complete components of some class projects at home.

Upper School students have homework such as math problems, writing and reading assignments, Spanish, and research projects.

+ How do Montessori graduates fare in the "real world"?

They do very well. Increasingly, the world of modern education and business favors creative thinkers who combine personal initiative with strong collaborative skills: exactly the characteristics which Montessori education nurtures. Cultural movers and shakers from Julia Child to the founders of Google have spoken of how their childhood experiences in Montessori gave them not only the ability to work cooperatively in existing settings, but also the skills of confidence, creativity, and communication needed to make innovative and ground-breaking changes.