Montessori Early School

Q&A with Claudia Leslie

Claudia Leslie serves as The Grosse Pointe Academy’s Division Head for the Montessori Early School. 


Q:  What are the benefits of a Montessori education?

A:  Montessori programs offer children an individualized program in a full classroom setting. Each classroom is equipped with unique Montessori materials that are systematically introduced to children by their teacher, whereupon students self-direct and choose work that interests them. Maria Montessori believed “we should not fill children with facts but rather cultivate their own natural desire to learn.” Classrooms contain a Practical Life area, where children develop fine motor skills, Sensorial area, where children learn color, size, texture, and weight, and academic materials to begin learning language arts, math, science and social studies. A Montessori education develops students who are capable, accountable, knowledgeable people who have a strong sense of self. 

Q:  What are the differences between play-based preschool and Montessori?

A:  Children in Montessori classrooms are introduced to different materials throughout their Montessori years. Each material has a purpose. For example, while both play-based and Montessori classrooms use blocks, a Montessori classroom has the Pink Tower: ten variously-shaped blocks that are designed to develop coordination, a basis for the number system, and awareness of dimension.

Q: What accreditation do The Grosse Pointe Academy Early School instructors hold?

A: Faculty members are selected for their Montessori certification, training in early childhood education, experience and ability to teach young children and concern for the education of each individual child. The Early School is a Full Member of the American Montessori Society and is licensed by the Michigan Department of Social Services.

Q:  What are the benefits to having my child in a multi-age classroom?

A:  Maria Montessori believed that younger children would benefit from the community formed with older children. This environment puts learning at the center, both socially and academically. A multi-age classroom allows younger children to learn from older students while older students practice leadership skills by teaching the younger students more sophisticated, complex problem-solving and critical thinking skills. This multi-age setting can naturally lead to growth that might not occur in a more uniformly-aged classroom. 

Q:  How do I know if my child is ready for school?

A:  All children develop and reach milestones at different times. Your child may be ready for school when they show independence, a desire to play with other children, and following directions. Many children exhibit these characteristics and are ready for school at ages two-and-a-half to three.