Our Classrooms

What is the average class size?
The average class size is twenty students. It is important to remember, especially in the primary classrooms, that each class has a balance of ages. While a classroom of 20 four-year-olds might be difficult, a classroom of 7 three-year-olds, 6 four-year-olds, and 7 five-year-olds is easily managed. Dr. Montessori recommended class sizes of 25 to 35 students to better facilitate peer tutoring and grouping.

What is the teacher/student ratio?
In both the primary and elementary classrooms, there are one Montessori-trained guide and one Undercroft-trained assistant. Thus, the ratio is approximately 1 to 11. In the primary classrooms, the youngest children either go home or go to nap room at 11:30. The ratio then drops to approximately 1 to 7.

Are there aides in classes? Specialist teachers?
There is one full-time assistant in each classroom. The primary classes have specialists for music and art. In the elementary and middle school program we have specialists for music, art, physical education and Spanish.

Does the school use a particular curriculum or method of instruction, such as Slingerland, Carden Waldorf or Montessori?
Undercroft Montessori School has utilized the Montessori method of instruction since it was founded in 1964. The elementary classrooms were added in 1981. Dr. Maria Montessori (1870-1952) is credited with the development of the open classroom, individualized education, manipulative learning materials, teaching toys, and programmed instruction. A key component of Montessori is learning respect for self and others. What later became known as the “Montessori Method” was derived from Dr. Montessori ‘s observation and work with Rome’s most disadvantaged children. She often said, “I studied my children, and they taught me how to teach.” Montessori’s prime productive period lasted from the opening of the first Children’s House in 1907 until the mid-1920’s. During this time, she continued her study of children and developed a vastly expanded curriculum and methodology. Montessori schools were established throughout Europe and North America, and Dr. Montessori gave up her medical practice to devote all her energies to advocating the rights and intellectual potential of all children. Nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1948, Dr. Montessori was acknowledged as the world’s leading educator, but today there is growing consensus that many of her ideas were decades ahead of their time. Educators trained in the Montessori method continue to observe children and expand the curriculum begun by Dr. Montessori over 90 years ago.

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