I thought Montessori was another word for preschool. Do you accept older children?

Montessori is a theory of education that covers birth to 18 years of age. Drumnigh Montessori is a primary school and our lead teachers are qualified to teach children from ages 3 to 12. There are 9 Montessori Primary Schools in the Republic of Ireland. Montessori primary schools and secondary schools are very popular across the world and more and more of these schools are being made public – for example in the UK and US.

What age do children start Montessori.

Children usually start Drumnigh Montessori at around three years of age, though some children may start a little earlier if they are toilet trained and if the Directress feels that the child is ready after a class visit.

What is the ECCE scheme and when is my child eligible?

The Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Scheme provides two free years of early childhood care and education for children of a pre-school age. Drumnigh Montessori Primary School qualifies under the ECCE scheme and we are happy to offer free pre-school places. For more information on when your child is eligible please see the ECCE section of our website.

Is Montessori good for children with extra supports needs? What about gifted children?

Montessori is known to work well with children who have extra support needs as well as with gifted children. The children have the flexibility and freedom to learn at their own pace. The Directresses can adapt to the needs of the individual child. Children who might need more support are not under pressure to “catch up” while gifted children are able to explore their curiosity without waiting on the others.

Why does Montessori seem so ‘work focused’, surely young children should be learning through play or enjoying more free play?

Two common misconceptions about Montessori is that it is too work focused when children could be learning through play or that the children have too much freedom, choosing whether or not they work at all.

Dr. Montessori’s observations in the classroom was that children loved to be challenged and had an innate desire to learn. Early on she saw that when children had the choice between “toys” and work materials they always chose work materials. Central to Montessori is the prepared environment, which means a carefully laid out classroom that entices the children to choose self correcting materials themselves.  She also understood the importance of choice, but not too much choice! She noticed that when children had two much choice it became difficult for them to decide. Montessori talks about freedom within limits. For example the children in Drumnigh choose individually when they have their snack time but they can only have one snack. The freedom fosters a sense of independence and responsibility with the children. The Directresses act as guides, presenting the materials to the children, monitoring their progress and guiding them to the next step when appropriate.

Is it true that Montessori schools do not test children?

Many Montessori schools choose not to test children, believing in a more holistic approach to education that is harder to measure. At Drumnigh, we wish to meet the needs of children who will continue on in the Irish education system after they have left our school. To do this we ensure that the national curriculum is met using Montessori methods and we use some non mandatory national standardised tests to measure where the children are. While the directresses recommend these tests from time to time, it is a consultative process between you and your child’s directress.

If my child starts Montessori Primary School will they be able to progress to mainstream school later?

Yes. While there may be a personal adjustment for many children moving into mainstream schools, or to moving school for that matter, the children tend to be more then prepared. Through Montessori they will have developed a love of learning, the ability to be disciplined and concentrate and to be autonomous. They may well be more prepared for secondary school then their mainstream counterparts, who do not have much experience of autonomous learning.

Do primary school children get homework in Drumnigh.

One of the core features of Montessori primary schools is teaching children about time management. They are encouraged to record their work and the time it takes them to complete their work. There is a small amount of homework for children in the primary school classes. The homework is not standardised and will reflect your child’s progress. They are given their homework at the beginning of the week and must complete it by the end of the week. This encourages them to continue to manage their own time and work in the home. This limited homework is also an opportunity for parents to get involved with what your child is learning.

Is your school a feeder school

We are currently in negotiations with a range of secondary schools with the aim of becoming a feeder school.

Why is the primary school fee-paying and the preschool is subsidised. 

Drumnigh Montessori Primary school is recognised by the government as a provider of early childhood education and as such is in receipt of capitation grants for every child registered that is eligible for the ECCE grant. At time of writing the Department of Education only provides capitation at primary school level to national schools whose teachers are qualified in department recognised primary school teaching degrees. Montessori organisations and other stakeholders are working hard to change this and to have Montessori primary school school qualifications recognised, in the way they are recognised across the world. Our primary school Montessori teachers have globally recognised qualifications and in the UK, Europe and the US, more and more Montessori primary schools are being made public.

We are Roman Catholic. Do you facilitate First Communion?

Drumnigh Montessori is a non denominational school so religion is not covered during school hours. In the past, when enough families required it, Drumnigh has facilitated preparation for First Communion outside of school hours and in collaboration with another primary schools.

Do you offer after-school activities?

Yes every year we propose a selection of after school activities and they go ahead based on the interest.

 I see you are a parent run school. Does that mean I have to work in the school?

Drumnigh is indeed a parent run school and parents sit on the Board and volunteer on a day to day basis. However, we understand that not everyone has the same availability or interest. We do expect parental involvement but that can mean simply attending our events and maybe helping with set up and clean up. Parents are involved with the decision making process through our open door policy, parent evenings and AGM and through various working groups.

If you do have an interest in getting more involved at governance level or if you have a particular professional skill set that you think would help us – please get in touch. For example, parents have provided accounting, plumbing, building, graphics, IT and many more services in the past.