Montessori Alternative Program

In January 2000, the CBE approved the Montessori Alternative Program, which commenced in September 2000 at Killarney School.  Eventually, Lake Bonavista School and Captain John Palliser School also opened with Montessori programs.

History of the Montessori Method 

Maria Montessori (1870 - 1952) was a twentieth century pioneer in education. After becoming Italy’s first female doctor, her interests turned to the education of children and she began her life-long study of human development. Based on a profound respect for the potential of each individual and the discovery that children learn best when they are able to follow their individual interests, Montessori created carefully prepared classrooms that allow freedom of choice and movement with a balance of guidance and structure. Montessori continued to work in collaboration with others as she developed her methods, educational materials and teacher training courses.


Research and development remain a vital part of Montessori education. Montessori methods and materials have been tested around the world and adapt well to a variety of cultural settings. This adaptability, and Montessori’s insight into how children learn, result from her understanding of the universal principles of human development. Her early discoveries are now being confirmed by modern research. These principles are as relevant today as they were nearly 100 years ago. There are now over 5,000 private Montessori schools and over 200 public school Montessori programs in North America.

General Principals of the Montessori Program

  • Independent activity constitutes about 80 percent of the work, and teacher-directed activity comprises the remaining 20 percent of the work at all levels.
  • Subjects are taught in an integrated fashion. Instruction is not divided into specific time frames associated with a particular subject area or activity.
  • Teachers are encouraged to work with the same group of students for more than one year.
  • There is a balance of freedom and responsibility. Basic classroom rules dictate that a student is free to choose activities, but is responsible to structure choices and time to cover the curriculum.
  • Classroom schedules allow for large blocks of time to problem solve, observe and understand interactions, make connections in knowledge and create new ideas.
  • Classrooms are organized, where possible, with three different ages in the classroom. Younger students learn from older students; older students benefit from being leaders and mentors. This is a basic premise of Montessori education.
  • A diverse set of Montessori learning materials, activities and experiences are used to guide discovery and foster physical, intellectual, creative and social independence.
  • The classroom atmosphere encourages social interaction to enhance cooperative learning, peer teaching and emotional development.
  • The teacher must be educated in the Montessori philosophy and methodology appropriate to the age level of the students.
“The work of the child consists of creating the human being that it has to become.The adult works to improve his environment while the child works to improve himself. ” Maria Montessori

Parental Involvement 

In order to realize a successful Montessori Program, parental involvement is encouraged. Parents are urged to assist in whatever way they can to support the program and are asked to communicate with the teacher on a regular basis regarding the progress of their child. The Montessori Alternative Public School Society (MAPSS), a non-profit society made up of all stakeholders, is dedicated to supporting public Montessori in Calgary by raising funds and public awareness for the program. 

Teacher's Role

A teacher with both an Alberta teaching certificate and training from an accredited Montessori teacher training body guides the students in individual and group learning experiences. The teacher is an enlightened generalist who is able to teach all subjects not as individual disciplines but as part of the whole.

Elements of the Montessori Method

  • Emphasis on intrinsic motivation and student choice of activities
  • Structured learning environments designed to facilitate self-directed learning
  • Hands-on learning and manipulatives, particularly for mathematics, feature self-correcting materials and activities
  • Multi-aged, multi-graded grouping of students
  • Peer tutoring and cooperative learning
  • Ecological studies
  • Global education
  • Peace education
  • Mastery of outcome-based learning
  • The Alberta Program of Studies is presented through the Montessori philosophy, methodology and materials. Students in the Montessori Program will be expected to write Provincial Achievement Tests.

Registration Procedures

To facilitate the organization of classes, registration of students for the upcoming school term should be completed by mid-February of the corresponding school year.

The following criteria are considered at the time of registration:

  •  Availability of space
  • Sibling(s) currently in the program
  • Area of residence
  • Previous Montessori experience is not required for children enrolling in Kindergarten or Grade 1, but is an asset. Montessori schools maintain that the ideal time to start Montessori education is between 3 and 4 years old. Children entering the program in Grades 2 - 6 must have had prior Montessori classroom experience.
  • If registrations exceed available space, selection will be determined by random lottery process.
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