Frequently Asked Questions
What is Montessori education?
Montessori education is practiced in an estimated 20,000 schools worldwide, serving children from birth to eighteen years old. Montessori education was founded in 1907 by Dr. Maria Montessori, the first woman in Italy to become a physician. 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.
Children in Montessori classes learn at their own pace and according to their own choice of activities from hundreds of possibilities. This self-learning method gives the child ownership of the learning process. Learning is an exciting process of discovery, building a high degree of self-confidence, concentration, motivation, self-discipline, self-reliance, self-mastery, love of learning, and independence. In addition, the child develops social skills and an overall joyful disposition.
What is Classical Education?
Classical Education emphasizes the pursuit of the Good, the True, and the Beautiful. It is aligned with child development and broken into three main stages, Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric, called the Trivium. Younger students have minds ready to absorb information. At Good Shepherd School, we do this through a “living books” approach, where literature and history are read and experienced. For example, in our 1st-3rd grade American History cycle, students might read and discuss Colonial America, then dip their own candles, card raw wool, and learn to identify native species, much like the first settlers did. In the same way that grammar forms the foundation of language, the Grammar Stage of classical education sets the stage for more analytical thought in the Logic Stage.
I am considering your program. Why would I send my three year old to school?
Good Shepherd School’s classroom is filled with simple yet beautiful materials scientifically developed by Maria Montessori. Dr. Montessori observed that during the early years, a child’s mind is most “absorbent” and easily stores information. She saw that when the young child is given the order and structure of objects, letters, and numbers, the child can effortlessly absorb the information, building the foundation for a love of learning.
Dr. Montessori’s method is not only intended for intellectual gain but an education for life. Children develop joy, independence, critical thinking, self-discipline, concentration, a love of order, obedience, and a sense of wonder. Primary instruction includes presentations in math, language, sensorial skills, and practical life.
Dr. Montessori used the term “normalization,” referring to a calm, focused, child absorbed in his or her work. Young children who have a consistent, well-prepared environment (like a Montessori classroom) reach “normalization” faster and with less difficulty. A three year old in a Montessori environment, five days a week, will respond to the intellectual challenges of focused learning more quickly and more easily than would a child of three who attends class for just three days or not at all.
How do I know if my preschool-aged child would do best in a half day or a full day program?
Children who begin as three year olds start out at half days. Older children who enter the classroom are transitioned to full day when it is appropriate. The best time to transition to full days depends on the individual child and specifics are worked out between the parents and the school.
My child will be entering Kindergarten. Which program is right for them?
Most kindergarten-aged children will enter our Montessori Primary program. They will work on letter sounds, phonograms, reading and writing, mathematic operations, geography, and more. While their experience will be a little different than a child who began in Primary at age 3 or 4, it is likely that your child will learn more than in a traditional kindergarten class. We find that our Primary program is an excellent preparation for success in 1st grade.
How is the Classical Elementary program structured?
Following the successful model of our Montessori Primary program, our Elementary program is split into two multi-grade classes. Lower Elementary is grades 1-3 and Upper Elementary is grades 4-6. Class sizes are kept very small in order for the teacher to work with small groups of students at their own level. Younger children aspire to learn the work that they observe the older children doing. Older children take ownership of the classroom, a rare experience for middle and youngest children in the birth order. They will often help younger students with pride.
Are you a Catholic school?
Although Good Shepherd School is not recognized canonically (Catholic Code of Cannon Law §802), we follow the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church and the Magisterium. Our Faculty, Administration, and Board are practicing Catholics and have training in Catholic Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.
Why include an Atrium?
Our school is committed to providing Catholic Catechesis of the Good Shepherd to our students. An Atrium is a prepared space to address the spiritual needs of the children. In the Atrium, each child comes to Christ in his or her own way, through activity and hands-on learning that engages the five senses. Dr. Montessori observed that many of the activities the children engage in while in the classroom reach their pinnacle of expression within the Atrium.
Does Good Shepherd School fulfill requirements for Catholic religious education and sacramental preparation?
Our program meets the requirements for Catholic religious education as approved by St Francis de Sales parish and St. John’s Parish.
Where is GSS located?
The school is housed in St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Purcellville, Virginia.
What is tuition?
There is a $750 application fee and a 10% deposit that counts toward tuition. Elementary tuition is $7,500 per year. Primary tuition is $7,200 for full days and $5,400 for half days. A number of financing plans are available, including one, four, or ten monthly payments.
Is there financial aid or a discount for additional children?
We are very happy to be able to provide financial aid to roughly 50% of our families. We recognize that choosing private education is costly, especially when you have multiple children! Our financial aid form is simple and allows you to tell us what you are able to afford. The Board is as generous as possible when awarding aid.
We do not offer discounts for multiple children. Instead, the discount comes in the form of aid. We believe this is the best way to tailor your financial aid award to your individual family situation. Each family budget is unique.
How are tuition costs determined?
Good Shepherd School is a 501(c)3 non-profit. Tuition covers costs associated with hiring teachers and assistants, facilities, materials expenses, and administrative expenses. We have worked to minimize expenses and keep tuition levels highly competitive with tuition at local schools. The school is not a money making venture. To keep tuition costs affordable, families are asked to volunteer time to help teachers and administration.
What are the hours?
Classes begin after morning drop off from 8:15-8:30am. Half day Primary students leave at 11:30am. The school day ends at 3:00pm.
Do you offer after-school care?
We do not.
Are Montessori children successful later in life?
Research studies show that Montessori children are well prepared for later life academically, socially, and emotionally. In addition to scoring well on standardized tests, Montessori children are ranked above average on such criteria as following directions, turning in work on time, listening attentively, using basic skills, showing responsibility, asking provocative questions, showing enthusiasm for learning, and adapting to new situations. There have been numerous recent articles in the press referring to major company founders attributing their success to Montessori education (e.g. Sergey Brin and Larry Page of Google and Jeff Bezos of Amazon).
Some example articles are at:
Good Shepherd School admits students of any race, color, national origin, and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admission policies, scholarship and loan programs, or athletic and other school-administered programs.