Senior Primary FAQs
How well do MIC students do on the NAPLAN? Do MIC students do the NAPLAN testing?
Yes. Montessori schools participate in NAPLAN to comply with regulatory requirements and children sit the tests as another classroom (practical life) activity. Most educators agree that the NAPLAN tests are a snapshot on a particular day rather than an assessment of the total development of the child. Montessori schools focus on the total development of the child – physical, social, emotional, intellectual and spiritual. The NAPLAN results only focus on numeracy and literacy and as such cannot provide a comprehensive measure of a school’s effectiveness.
What do the children do each day in the Senior Primary environment? What is the curriculum?
Montessori International College follows the national curriculum, but it’s delivered in a Montessori way – with purpose and meaning.
In the Senior Primary School (Years 4 to 6), learning experiences lead children from a comprehension of the concrete to an understanding of the abstract. Learning spaces provide maximum opportunity for the children to learn from and with each other. Skill acquisition at this stage of development supports the child as they weigh options, examine contradictory evidence, tolerate differences of opinion, and make connections among different learning concepts and personal experience. These children are avid consumers of knowledge and deliberate critics of logic.
You walk into a room of our Senior Primary children and the first thing you notice is the dynamic learning space with open shelves, abundant with Montessori materials. This is not a silent space, rather, there is a hum of activity as children discuss and collaborate on their work. One child is quietly illustrating a finished project, nearby two others are working on the cubing of a three digit number using the wooden cubing material, which teaches them to analyse and question in a mathematical way, while another small group sits on the floor – working together to try and figure out how to organise their most recent fundraising event.
This is a normal day in a Montessori International College Senior Primary classroom.
The morning opens with each student using their diary to plan their day. Following this, they organise themselves into group or individual work, depending on their preference. You will see mathematical materials being used, grammar materials laid out, small numbers of children huddled in the library where they pour over books for research, others venturing out for a guided bushwalk, and a child playing the ukulele on the deck while another writes lyrics.
A question about cyclones and local weather patterns becomes a focus of study on the impact of weather on the college campus. A flood marker is constructed out of wood, painted and dug into the ground at a nearby creek. Regular monitoring of rainfall and changing creek levels follows, and at the end of the term, a presentation of their findings is given to their peers. They are now more deeply connected with their local environment through this initial study of global weather patterns.
In our classrooms children turn real-life experiences into ideas and concepts, so they can make sense of the world they live in. It’s hands-on learning.
Our children discuss, scrutinize, question, unearth, make friends, play, resolve conflicts, and grow.
It’s Schooling Reimagined.
Does the MIC curriculum include study of a second language?
Yes. Montessori International College is a big believer in children learning languages other than English. Children start learning Mandarin at three with the help of a dedicated Mandarin teacher – and those lessons can continue until students graduate.
Do the children do any sports at school?
Although Montessori schools are non-competitive, the playing of sport and non-competitive games is encouraged. There is a programme for all children with regards to gross motor development. Initially the students are taught developmentally appropriate skills which include activities involving movement and hand/eye co-ordination. These skills are built upon and in primary there is often a specific time each week for non-competitive games and skill development. Our aim is on the acquisition of skills, however emphasis is also placed on being a member of a team. There is a non-competitive element to all sports during these lessons.
Why is there no uniform?
Montessori International College respects individuality – and what you wear is often a reflection of your individuality. Independence is also highly valued in MIC, and choosing appropriate clothing – which later becomes your personal style – is one of the ways to practise making decisions for yourself. Uniforms tend to obliterate individual differences and create the illusion that students’ membership of a school community is more important than their individuality.
What is MIC’s approach to assessment and reporting?
In traditional schools, retention of material is measured primarily with regular standardised testing and grading. This method of assessment is given after-the-fact as a seal on what the student has (or hasn’t) learned. It is known as summative assessment as it purports to show the sum of a child’s learning. The structure of traditional classrooms further limits assessment. Teachers have students, all of the same age, for only one year, limiting their time horizon. And typically the teacher is the only source of feedback.
Montessori classrooms avoid these limitations. Assessment is mainly formative, meant to guide the child during learning. It occurs in the context of a longer time horizon. And it enables the child to learn from her peers or directly from the world. Activities are open-ended, encouraging exploration and creative thinking, and as such do not lend themselves to grading.
In a Montessori classroom feedback is given partially by the teacher, but mostly through the child’s direct experience with materials and peers. Most materials have a control of error that allows the child to know whether they have used the material accurately without waiting for a teacher. Younger children can also receive help from older children who have been in the classroom longer.
The multi-age classroom promotes familiarity and trust among a community of learners that includes children and adults. Returning students have an institutional memory of classroom procedures and rituals, and their daily management of many aspects of the classroom frees adults to teach individually and to carefully observe each child’s progress. Such personalised assessment provides more nuanced information than most forms of testing can reveal.
Primary children take ownership of their own progress through their daily work journal, weekly individual conferences with their teacher, by requesting specific lessons as the need arises, and by maintaining portfolios of work completed. These materials, and detailed daily observations of each child by the teacher, form the basis of reporting to parents.
Not only is comparative reporting often misleading for parents, and a cause of unwarranted anxiety, it is discouraging for students who score “poorly”, detrimental to both their self-esteem and their willingness to persist, as well as potentially negative for those who do “well’ by encouraging the valuing of high scores over the inherent satisfaction of learning.
Students in the Adolescent Community use the national curriculum (although it is delivered in a different way than you would find in a mainstream school) and they can undertake OP subjects and are graded accordingly. But a number of other paths to university have also been created.
How many students does MIC have?
Small by design, we currently have less than 350 students which allows us to provide a quality Montessori education and highly personalised learning programs, with the benefit of economies of scale as we sustainably grow our school.