1What is the significance of the Montessori Charter accreditation?
The main objective of the Montessori Charter is to guarantee that the criteria for a Montessori school, as stipulated by the Association Montessori International, are implemented thoroughly. You can consult the complete Charter on the Association Montessori de France web site.
2When did your school receive the accreditation from the AMF/ISMM?
Our school signed the Montessori Charter in September 2011. In October 2012 we welcomed an Accreditation Committee jury for two full days for class observations and individual meetings with the teachers in each level. Following this visit, a report was drawn up by a Accreditation Committee Delegation. This report, which was submitted to the boards of administration of both the Association Montessori de France (A.M.F.) and the international training institute for France, the Institut Supérieur Maria Montessori (I.S.M.M.), resulted in a favourable reply to our request for accreditation.
3How many hours of English does a child have everyday?
It is not appropriate to answer that question in terms of "hours"; a child evolves in an environment where both languages co-exist, both in the class and elsewhere in the school. The French speaking teacher communicates only in French and the English speaking teachers speak only in English. The individual follow-up is in French when the Francophone is working with a child and vice versa with the Anglophones. In other words, at times when the children are grouped together (for conversations, for instructions, at meal times) the language used depends on the person who is looking after the group or the child at that time. Imagine a bilingual family where the mother speaks one language and the father another; each parent is the reference for their respective languages.
4Is it problematic that the child does not hear English spoken at home?
Not at all; in reality, regardless of the fact that a many of our children are bilingual, the language most often spoken in school is French. Therefore a child will never find himself in an awkward situation because he does not understand English. Two thirds of the children are monolingual. The remaining third is bilingual or trilingual but not necessarily French/English. In the event that a monolingual child be initially more reticent towards an English speaking adult, this reticence is short lived as the English teachers propose interesting and stimulating activities to the children and therefore good relationships are quickly established.
5Will my child be bilingual/trilingual when he leaves your school at six or twelve years of age?
This answer depends on the child and his personal situation. Maria Montessori indentified what she described as the sensitive period for language acquisition and this concerns all the children in our 2 -6 level. We never insist that the children reply in English in this age group. We consider it more important that the children benefit from an environment where English is a living language and where he can assimilate, or absorb the language without an obligation of written feedback or return. Language learning with a young child is directly linked to emotional well being so we try to keep the activities light-hearted and playful, thus whetting the child's appetite for the second or third language! In our primary level, children who already know how to read and write can commence a more academic approach to learning English. It is at this stage where we will ask for answers in English for example because he will already have assimilated certain vocabulary. The child learns very quickly at this level; he is already in a friendly, familiar, English/French/L.S.F. atmosphere and his bilingualism/trilingualism will be strengthened. When a child starts at the age of two and enters into the elementary class, he is beginning his fifth year of English (and L.S.F.). When a child leaves us at the age of twelve, he has spent ten years learning English (and L.S.F). We can say that a child is bilingual/trilingual when he leaves us at the age of twelve.
6Why are all Montessori schools not bilingual?
Bilingualism (and even less, trilingualism) is not synonymous with Montessori. Montessori schools world wide establish a scientific pedagogical method with a specific philosophy. It is this pedagogy which makes the school and not the contrary. It is true that there are many bilingual Montessori schools because the individual follow up is conducive to the introduction of a second (or third in our case) language. Similarly, today's world is conducive to multi languages .To this day, we are the only trilingual Montessori school in the world to use French, English and LSF on a daily basis.
7Do the high tuition fees explain the fact that there are not many Montessori schools in France?
No. Countries with a high number of Montessori school are countries with a progressive national education system, receptive to "alternative" pedagogies. Germany (1,000 schools), UK and Ireland (800), Montessori is integrated within the public school system in Holland, Japan (5,000), North America (5,000 with 200 integrated with the public system), India (5,000 including the world's largest Montessori school), France (100). In Germany, alternative schools that have proved their competence for a period of three years, and that have a full student register, can benefit from recognition from the country's national education system with partial reimbursement of the teachers' salaries. At present, in France, the Public Montessori Association works everyday in order to integrate the Montessori method of teaching in the public school sector.
8Why does your school not continue after the 6th grade?
Of the 100 French Montessori schools less than half continue after the three to six level. Up until fairly recently (2012) there was no international teacher training in France for Montessori teachers wishing to work in a 6-12 class, which gave rise to a lack of qualified teachers for this age group. The CFMF (Centre de Formation Montessori Francophonie, A.M.I., 6-12 training institute ) opened in Archamps, France and there are now more qualified 6-12 teachers. Qualified AMI Montessori professors for the junior high and high school levels are few and far between because the only qualifying schools are in Ohio (USA), Sweden and Mexico via NAMTA (North American Montessori Teacher's Association). In France at the present time there are two Montessori junior high schools with a NAMTA/A.M.I. trained staff. One junior high or Farm School is at Les Pouces Verts in Mouans- Sartoux and the second is Les Aiglons in Cruseilles.
9What happens once my child leaves his Montessori school?
Children leave us at the end of the 5th or 6th grade level to integrate the 6th or 7th grade or middle schools in their local public school, or to integrate a private school in their region or an international school in Paris or elsewhere in the world. There is a public Middle and High school in Nogent sur Marne with an international section (Edouard Branly branlynogent.free.fr)/ .. For the past 27 years, children leaving our school have been successfully integrating and adapting and have gone as far as; the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Finland, the Russian Federation, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, India, Australia and South Africa. It is these children that have made our international reputation what it is today and we thank them from the bottom of our hearts.
10How do the children integrate after leaving your school?
When children leave our school they have a very good academic level but more importantly, they leave us with the ability to adapt to new environments and situations that is over and above average. As Maria Montessori wished, we prepare our children for a world different to the one we know today. Through the different situations that the child experiences in school, he learns to adapt to these situations and his reasoning capacities are refined and his capacity for analysis develops. We help him from his earliest years to communicate on all levels and we encourage him to think for himself, to be creative and enterprising, a responsible human being and therefore to integrate society as an individual ready to play a part in today's ever changing society.
11If my child integrates a traditional French school after leaving your 6-12 level, will he lose his English?
It is not imaginable that your child lose the English he has learned upon leaving our school. Maria Montessori was right when she spoke about the sensitive periods of development: one of these sensitive periods is the period for the development and acquisition of language. Therefore, having learned a second or third language during this sensitive period (from birth to 7 years old), it has been integrated fully. When your child needs to use this language or to study it in a more academic way, his English will come back to him easily.
12Why is your school different?
Maria Montessori spoke of the "citizen of the world". In order to work towards this openness to the outside world and mutual respect, we teach the children about cultures different to our own. Whilst talking about traditional holidays from different countries, we cover subjects such as geography, history and general knowledge. As we welcome children from many countries and of many religions, every child can indentify with and enjoy the presentation of celebrations and customs that he is familiar with. It is a gratifying experience for him to share this with his classmates as he feels that he and his family are being "honoured" and appreciated by his peers. Therefore, Halloween and Mardi Gras are not simply "dress up" days in our school. We present these occasions on a deeper level, talking about the history of these holidays and why they are celebrated. So children in our school hear about Christmas, Hanukkah, Ramadan, Divali, Martin Luther King Jr Day, Japanese Boy's Day, Japanese Girl's Day, Chinese New Year, the Vietnamese Têt, St Valentine's Day, St Patrick's Day, Norooz the Iranian New Year, etc.. All of these celebrations are great opportunities to travel the world and learn history!
13Why did you choose sign language as a third language instead of German or Chinese etc..
Through her scientific research, Dr. Maria Montessori concluded that the hand is the vector of intelligence. A child's brain and intelligence, develop through the use of the hand. This was revealed through the evolution of the brain in pre-historic times. Sign language is a gestural, expressive, theatrical language. It requires the use of the hand, facial expression and the upper part of the body. Various studies conducted in the United States have shown that children who learn sign language from a very young age develop better self esteem, better social and communication skills and better cognitive and language skills. Our students, and their parents, have an open mind concerning the deaf and learn, through this language, a different culture. Their vision of the disabled has been changed forever. The United States has a long history of sign language since Dr Thomas Gallaudet and a French man, Laurent Clerc, who was a follower of Abbot de l'Epée, founded the first American School for the Deaf in Washington, D.C in 1817. In 1986, the school became known as Gallaudet University, the first university for the deaf. Here in France, sign language was officially forbidden until 1992 and was only recognised by the senate in 2005 with legislation for the disabled. Sign language was introduced into our school in August 2010 and our school was officially inaugurated as the International Montessori Trilingual School (E.M.I.T.) of Nogent-sur-Marne in November 2017. We are able to welcome deaf children (or children whose parents are deaf) into our 2 to 6 year old classes. The pedagogical team, and the children, will have spent several years learning sign language and the results are promising. Hopefully some deaf ex-students of ours will attend Gallaudet University one day, and will carry on the Montessori tradition.