Frequently Asked Questions:

Here are the answers to the top 25 questions people ask.  If you have a different question, please contact us.  We are here to help!

Who and what is Montessori?

  • Montessori education was founded in 1907 by Dr. Maria Montessori, the first woman in Italy to become a physician. She based her educational methods on scientific observation of children's learning processes. Guided by her discovery that children teach themselves, Dr. Montessori designed a ‘prepared environment’ in which children could freely choose from a number of developmentally appropriate activities.
  • Montessori education is found all over the world, spanning ages from birth to adolescence.
  • 2012 was the centenary of Montessori in Australia.
  • There are 15 pre-schools, 4 Montessori primary schools and 3 Montessori secondary schools or streams in Victoria.

What are the Montessori Education Basics?

  • A philosophy of being that extends beyond the classroom and works with family to create contributing global citizens.
  • Based on helping the natural development of the human being while teaching the national curriculum.
  • Children teach themselves using materials specially prepared for that purpose with teacher operating alongside to assist where necessary.
  • Cosmic Education and Peace Education are integral parts of the curriculum.
  • Understanding comes through the child’s own experiences via the materials and the promotion of each child’s ability to find things out for themselves. Children are free to choose their own areas of interest to explore further. However, if they are ignoring one particular area of the curriculum, the teacher will guide them to work on areas they are less likely to choose independently. It is important that all children are working on a balance of all curriculum areas.
  • Learning is based on the fact that physical exploration and cognition are linked.
  • The teacher works in collaboration with the children – children may ask for a lesson from a teacher, or may volunteer to teach other children.
  • The child’s individual development brings its own reward and therefore motivation. We do not give out certificates or stickers. We encourage children to work for internal motivation, to be proud of what they have achieved for the joy and satisfaction of a job well done.
  • Uninterrupted work cycles. Children structure their own time and day with guidance from teachers. This means there are generally 30 different timetables working concurrently in a class! This also means that children can work on a particular task until it is completed, thus experiencing the satisfaction of having completed a task to the best of their ability. They are not forced to complete their work within a timeframe that is set by the adult or a bell ringing to announce the start of a new set of lessons.
  • Multi-age classrooms. The advantages of this are twofold: First of all, older children experience the sense of satisfaction in being able to teach a younger child a concept they already know and understand. This builds a strong sense of their own capability and a strong sense of confidence and self-esteem. Secondly, they reinforce their learning, because when you teach another person something, first of all you need to know it well yourself.
  • Holistic education including emphasis on independent thinking, good social skills and developing high emotional intelligence.
  • See our Montessori Method Page for more information.


How is Montessori Different than Mainstream?

  • Children in Montessori classes learn at their own, individual pace and according to their own choice of activities from hundreds of possibilities. Learning is an exciting process of discovery, leading to concentration, motivation, self-discipline, and a love of learning.
  • Montessori classes place children in three-year age groups (3-6, 6-9, 9-12, and so on), forming communities in which the older children spontaneously share their knowledge with the younger ones.
  • Montessori emphasizes learning through all five senses, not just through listening, watching, or reading.
  • There are no papers turned back with red marks and corrections. Instead the child's effort and work is respected as it is. The teacher, through extensive observation and record-keeping, plans individual learning plan to enable each child to learn what they need in order to improve.
  • The environment is arranged according to subject area, and children are always free to move around the room instead of staying at desks. Children are able to work with a piece of material to completion or until they have satisfied their inner urge to master a particular concept. At any one time in a day you may observe children working on a range of subjects instead of all working on the same thing at the same time.


When did the School Open – What is the School History?

  •  Gisborne Montessori School first opened its doors in February 2000 at Macedon House in Gisborne. This was our temporary school site.
  • We had one classroom and a small playground.
  •   It was rent free. Without this we would not have opened.
  •   There were 22 students.
  •   Staff worked for reduced wages until we received our first per capita government funding for our 10 school aged students in July 2000. The founding parents worked as volunteers.
  •  We began the search for our permanent site.
  •  In June 2004 the Gisborne Montessori School finalised the purchase of its permanent site at 57 Barringo Road, New Gisborne.
  •  Funds were provided by founding families to enable the land to be purchased and the first building to be constructed.
  •  The first building was completed and Gisborne Montessori School opened at its new and current site on February 1, 2005.

How Many Students are at GMS?

  • In 2019 there is approximately 150 students – about 65 from nido to pre-school and 85 in primary school (prep to grade 6).  Our current capacity is for approximately 120 primary students.

What is the Ratio of Students to Teachers?

  • The current teacher to student ratio is approximately 1:10, that is, 1 teacher to 10 students.
  •  In Primary School, we find that teacher: student ratio is not as critical as in mainstream education. Rather than lecturing to large or small groups of children, the teacher is trained to teach one child at a time, and to oversee up to thirty children working on a broad array of tasks.
  •  The teacher is simplistic in the basic lessons of math, language, the arts and sciences, and in guiding a child's research and exploration, capitalising instead on their interest in and excitement about a subject. Within reason and consistent with individual learning plan requirements, the teacher does not make assignments or dictate what to study or read, nor does she set a limit as to how far a child follows an interest.

What is your Bullying Policy?

  • GMS has specific policies and programs to discourage bullying and promote strong friendships.  
  • Programs such as ‘the peace table’ and resiliency curriculum encourage students to talk about their feelings and develop their own, teacher assisted, solutions to their problems across all areas of their life.


Why do you provide lunch and snack?

  • The Kitchen & Dining program operates at G.M.S. with an onsite purpose built commercial kitchen and dining facility.
  •  It provides a healthy morning tea for all students and lunch (full-time students) incorporated into the curriculum via nutrition, maths and life skills, and included in tuition fees.
  •  In summary, the program aims to develop:

      • healthy eating habits - supporting children to make sensible foods choices within the realities & practicalities of today’s world.
      • increased variety - using peer support to encourage reluctant eaters to try new foods and expand their food choices.
      •  courtesy - specifically table manners, sharing, helping and turn-taking.
      •  practical life skills – for example, food preparation, dish-washing, sweeping and cleaning.
      •  anaphylaxis risk reduction – creating an inclusive and safer environment for young children at risk of allergic reactions.
      •  environmental responsibility – the bulk buying for the menu and the lack of packaging that you would normally find in children’s lunch boxes creates a school with much less rubbish and a smaller environmental footprint .
      •  kitchen gardening and cooking – the ability to experience the entire cycle from growing food from seeds to cooking and eating school grown produce
      •  micro-economy – the opportunity to create small business enterprises for older students to co-ordinate.
  • See the Kitchen & Dining Program page for more information.


What do students eat for lunch & snack?

  • These are examples of typical menu items and are subject to change based on seasonal variation, curriculum planning, allergy requirements, etc. Water is always available. See the Kitchen & Dining Program page for more information.


    • Fruit 
    • Yoghurt, or
    •  Cheese cubes, or
    •  Rice cakes


    • Daily Sandwich & Salad Bar 
    • Weekly Hot Meal item (e.g. soup, vegetable pasta)
    •  Occasional dessert (e.g. apple pie, popcorn)


    • Fruit

How do you manage Allergies (anaphylaxis) or Other Illnesses/Special Needs

  • Being a small School that supplies all meals to the children creates a safer environment for anaphylactic children.
  • Most medical needs can be supported. Contact the Principal to discuss further if needed.
  • See the Kitchen & Dining Program page for more information.

What is the Uniform, Why is it Different Colours?

  • GMS understands that a uniform provides safe clothing choices, is convenient for parents, readily identifies students and provides a sense of belonging.  
  • The choice of colours and components allows children choice and freedom within boundaries – promoting the development of individuality, confidence, responsibility and self-discipline whilst protecting self-esteem.
  •  School life at GMS is hands-on. Students are regularly working on the floor, gardening, chopping food and cooking, cleaning, etc. The uniform is practical and good quality, allows freedom of movement and safety, and is not expensive or “precious”.
  •  On excursion, we insist students wear red colour uniform polo shirts or jumpers for safety reasons to assist staff supervising a group.
  • See the Uniform Page for more information

What about Gifted Children or Children with Delays or Special Needs?

  • Montessori education is designed to help all children reach their fullest potential at their own unique pace.  
  • The classroom where children have varying abilities is a community in which everyone learns from one another and everyone contributes.
  •  Multi-age grouping allows each child to find his or her own pace without feeling ‘ahead’ or ‘behind’ in relation to peers.
  •  All styles of learning are nurtured: physical, visual spatial, interpersonal, intrapersonal, musical, intuitive, and the traditional linguistic and logical-mathematical (reading, writing, and math).


What is the Montessori Curriculum?

  •  The Montessori curriculum includes the following subjects:
    •  Practical Life, Sensorial Education, Language, Mathematics and Culture encompassing Music, Art ,History, Geography, Botany, Zoology, Chemistry, Physics, Astronomy and more.
  • See the Learning at GMS pages for further information.

Does Montessori meet Government Curriculum and National Standards?

  • GMS has cross referenced the National Montessori Curriculum with the Australian National Curriculum. Children will cover the same material as in any other school. The difference is in the WAY the children learn each concept. 
  • The Early Childhood Montessori programs in the school are also cross referenced with the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Frameworks
  •  Assessment and reporting is achieved using standardised normed assessment tools, classroom based assessment, observation and self-evaluation. Formal written reports that follow similar format to Government Schools with the A to E rating are mandated for all primary aged students as part of our Government compliance.

How do Prep or other Primary Years Transition into GMS?

  • Students from a GMS pre-school or another Montessori pre-school have preferred entry over mainstream waiting list enrolments. This is because Montessori students will typically transition easier and with less disruption to existing students. 
  • However, mainstream transition is quite possible and usually highly successful with the correct procedures. Primary School children normally take part in a 4 week trial period to ensure the family, the child and the school are ‘on the same page’ and that the values of home and school are a good match.

Do you teach Religion?

  • GMS does not teach any religious studies. Children will sometimes research different religions as a part of their studies on a particular country or culture, but religion is not practiced in any way throughout the day. We see this as a choice each family will make.
  • We do teach children tolerance to a variety of views on religion and culture. Some times families will offer to share a particular cultural festival with the class, but if parents do not want their child to participate, then alternative activities are arranged for the child.
  • Part of Montessori Cultural / Cosmic Curriculum is to tell the story of the coming of man. This is presented as a scientific view and that this is what scientists think. This is balanced with discussion around what other people believe – the Christian beliefs, the creation story told traditionally in aboriginal culture, ancient stories of how the world began from ancient civilisations etc. Children are taught that every family has their own belief system and that we all need to respect the rights of others to choose what they believe for themselves.


Do you set Homework?

  • Generally, in other Primary Schools, homework is given to gauge whether a child has understood a particular lesson. This is necessary when a teacher gives a lesson to twenty or so students at a time.
  • Our Teachers work with children individually or in groups of three or four students and Montessori materials are designed to be self-correcting. These two factors combined ensure that the Teacher is completely in touch with the child’s individual comprehension of work and on-going requirements and therefore, homework is generally not necessary.
  •  Home readers are sent home regularly for children to practice reading at home and we encourage families to read a wide variety of books to their children.
  •  Sometimes, if children have not made appropriate choices in their classroom work time, they may be asked to complete work at home in their own time as a logical consequence
  •  However, homework, in a Montessori sense, is work that the child does at home as an extension of his or her own interests. This work should be meaningful and of high interest to the child; it should have a purpose.
  •  Homework can include a variety of activities, including household chores. It can help the child develop language skills, cultural awareness, make mathematics a real part of the home environment and give the child a voice in family decisions.
  •  No education system can be successful in preparing children for a place in society without parental support. Education is, in fact, a cooperative effort that begins at home and is supplemented by the school. For these reasons it is assumed and expected that parents take an active part in choosing homework, or home activities, appropriate for the child.


What are the Transport options

  • GMS is close to Gisborne railway station on the Bendigo line. There is currently one supervised and one unsupervised school crossing on the short walk between the station and the School. We are currently lobbying local Council for supervised school crossings and entire footpath to School from the station.  
  • Gisbus services the School for drop-off and pick-ups in the Gisborne area, Train station and Outside School Hours Care services.
  • A public school bus service from Riddells Creek and Sunbury is also possible.
  • Some parents car-pool from Sunbury, Woodend, Macedon, etc.
  • See the Transport Options page for further information.

Do you have Outside School Hours Care (Primary) & Day Care (Pre-school)?

  • Before and After school activities are regularly occurring at GMS depending on interest such as chess, ball skills and yoga. 
  • Outside school hours child care is available with Gisbus taking students from GMS to OHSC at local primary schools.
  • Long day care is also available for pre-schoolers attending morning sessions at GMS by utilising Macedon Child Care who pick-up children from GMS using their mini-bus.
  • See the Before & After School Care  page for further information.

What about Montessori Secondary School?

  • GMS intends to begin a secondary program when enrolment numbers are sufficient to ensure an adequate social environment for the students. At this stage, with an International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program. 

What are the Fees and What’s Included?

  • It is important to remember that our fees are all-inclusive when comparing them to other schools. Including: 
    • Snacks & Lunches
    • Excursions
    • Text books
    • Stationary
    • Extra costs are for camps, uniforms and private music-tuition
  •  Please Contact Us for the current year’s Schedule of Fees and Charges.

What are your Extra-Curricular Activities?

  • Music
  • Art
  •  Physical education
  •  Language Other Than English (Auslan – sign language)
  •  Consistent with Montessori philosophy, sustainability classes and animal husbandry form a regular, normally outdoor, component of the curriculum.
  •  Lunch time bike riding
  •  The school also has concerts featuring drama and music
  •  There is after school activities which vary based on availability of staff and interest such as chess club and ball skills.
  •  Private Instrumental music tuition is available for piano, flute, violin, voice, saxophone, etc.
  • See the Learning at GMS pages for further information.

How well do your students transition to Secondary School?

  • When Dr. Montessori spoke of 'education for life', she meant preparing a child for the myriad experiences he or she will encounter, both in and outside of school, which of course includes moving from a Montessori primary classroom into high school.
  • A child who’s been in a Montessori classroom since age 3 has had many years of daily practise in working cooperatively; negotiation with peers; being a leader or a follower, depending on the requirements of the situation; and learning how to learn. Self-reliance and dependability have had the maximum potential to develop, as this child made decisions about what to work on and paced him or herself with the activity. All of these are invaluable skills that will serve the child in high school, higher education and the workplace.
  • The Montessori emphasis is on learning for its own sake, for developing knowledge and awareness of the wonderful world around us. It awakens the natural human desire to know and understand. Children aren’t encouraged to compete, or to work simply to achieve a reward or avoid a consequence. Instead, the child has an opportunity to develop internal motivation, another valuable attribute for high school and the years beyond
  • During a child’s final Montessori primary years, he or she develops a greater level of abstraction with academic subjects and moves away from using the materials. At the same time, he or she will be guided in improving planning and organisational skills and working to a deadline. These skills will assist with the transition to high school.

How big is the Waiting List? How likely is it for us to get in?

  • Currently, there are limited vacancies in some year levels. We encourage prompt return of registration applications to prevent disappointment.
  • The registration form can be downloaded here.

How do we Enrol or go the Next Step?

  • Contact administration for further information or to arrange a tour, classroom observation or meeting with the Principal.