Frequently Asked Questions
To help you decide whether MSC is the right choice for your child, here is a list of questions that parents frequently ask when visiting our school.
1. How will the Montessori philosophy help my child’s personal development?
The Montessori philosophy provides the child with many opportunities to become an independent learner as well as a responsible adult. Part of the mission of the school is to encourage students to learn for the pleasure of learning. We expect students to begin work each day without prompting, to complete assignments in a timely manner, and to strive for excellence in tackling each new project. The students learn to ask themselves, “Have I done my best?”
We also expect each child to be a responsible member of the class. For instance, each student is expected to help with classroom maintenance. In each class older students are encouraged to act as peer tutors for the younger students.
In addition, we stress the need for our students to become aware of their role in the greater society. MSC students have been involved in such projects as collecting books for Success by Six, corresponding with Peace Corps volunteers throughout the world, and raising funds for Riverbanks Zoo, UNICEF, the Animal Protection League, and Harvest Hope Food Bank. One of our most interesting projects resulted from studying South Carolina history. The older students recorded original songs about South Carolina history and sold the tapes to schools and individuals. Part of the proceeds from the project was used to support programs at the State Museum.
2. The Montessori curriculum is arranged in three-year blocks (grades 1-3 and 4-6). What are the benefits of having children spend three years in one class?
Children enter elementary school with different strengths and weaknesses. For instance, some children begin first grade reading independently. They might not need phonics instruction but would benefit greatly from reading with advanced readers. If a child enters first grade with impressive math skills, he or she can work with older students on math materials geared to his or her level of understanding.
Also, as children progress through the program, they have the opportunity to assist younger students. Being a peer tutor is one of the special rites of passage in a typical Montessori classroom. This experience allows a student not only to demonstrate his or her mastery of a subject but also it fosters the student’s sense of community sharing.
Finally, one of the joys of being a Montessori teacher is to observe the academic and personal development of a child. During the three years a child spends in one of our classrooms, the teacher becomes very familiar with each student through careful observation and interaction with the child.
3. Do students take standardized tests?
Because we feel our students need to learn test-taking skills, students in grades two through six take the Stanford Achievement Test each spring. We do not provide report cards but do offer regularly scheduled parent conferences to give specific feedback on the material each child has mastered.
4. Does MSC encourage parental involvement in school activities?
We rely on the assistance of parents in many ways: holding fund raisers, chaperoning field trips, and reading to children. Our board of directors is composed of parents, and we have four standing parent committees to handle Marketing and Recruitment, Fundraising and Development, Building and Grounds, and Budget and Finance.
5. Do students have homework?
Homework is part of the learning experience for elementary students. Younger students generally receive weekly homework involving reading, writing, math, and spelling. Older students complete daily work assignments not finished in class, write essays, and read nightly.
6. Is writing an important part of MSC’s curriculum?
Beginning with the very first week of school, elementary students spend time each week writing. As students progress through the program, writing requirements become more sophisticated. We expect first year students to write mini-reports on such subjects as vertebrates or continents, write poetry, or do free writing. One year the older students wrote and published a novel based on their research of South Carolina history. We have been especially pleased to have our students’ writing featured in The State newspaper, Richland Library publications, and other media. Many parents have expressed their appreciation of MSC’s attention to writing, saying that their children had more experience writing in elementary school than in middle or high school.
7. Are foreign languages, art and music offered at MSC?
MSC is dedicated to offering art, music and foreign language to all students. The school employs a trained art teacher and professional artist. For many years the school has received Arts-in-Education grants from the South Carolina Arts Commission, which exposes students to working artists from a variety of disciplines. We offer music to preschool and elementary students, Spanish taught by native speakers to all students, and Latin to students in grades 3 through 6.
8. Where do MSC graduates go to middle school?
Most graduates enter public school, and some attend private or parochial schools.
9. Do MSC graduates have difficulty adjusting to traditional classes?
They usually adjust easily. Because the Montessori curriculum provides our students with a sound foundation in all academic areas, our students generally excel in middle and high school. Furthermore, they leave MSC with good work habits and the ability to work cooperatively with peers and teachers.
10. What are some of the honors and achievements of MSC graduates?
Most of our students are admitted to advanced classes in math, languages, history, and science. We have had many graduates selected for math and academic teams in middle and high schools. A number of our graduates have participated in the SAT Talent Identification Program, received National Merit scholarships, and are members of National Honor Societies. Students have attended the Governor’s School for Science and Math, and one graduate received the prestigious President’s Award, given annually to just two students from each state.
11. Where do MSC graduates go to college?
Graduates have attended a range of schools, including Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, Duke, Mt. Holyoke, Davidson, Wake Forest, the Air Force Academy, Georgia Tech, and the USC Honors College.