FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Tell me about student - teacher
ratios and class sizes.

Toddlers (18 mo - 36 mo): Two full-time teachers with up to 12 students, but usually closer to 10 each day, 1:6 ratio. Toddlers are given individualized attention. 


Early Childhood (3 yrs - 6 yrs): Two full-time teachers with up to 24 students, 1:12 ratio. Teachers give small group lessons to 2-4 students or individual lessons to each child. This ensures each child receives instructions specific to their developmental needs.

Lower Elementary (6 yrs - 9 yrs): Two full-time teachers, 1 part-time teacher. We prefer a slightly larger class at this level (24-30) to increase socialization and community. Students form smaller peer groups with similar interests with whom they can connect and work. We give lessons to these groups of 2-5 children which surpasses the typical elementary class ratio of 1:25 (on average).

Upper Elementary (9 yrs - 12 yrs): 2 full-time teachers. With enrollment averaging around 15-20 students, we are able to provide a substantial level of support and individualized instruction.

Middle School (12 yrs - 15 yrs): 1 full-time teacher. Lamplighter has had decades of experience operating a top-tier middle school program. The caliber of character and work ethic of our graduates has caught the attention of area high school teachers receiving our students. It continues to gain in popularity as the preferred choice to some of the area’s larger middle school programs.

 

What is the hiring and training process for staff?

Our rigorous hiring process starts by carefully selecting candidates who have the right temperament, patience, and character to work with children. It is a requirement that teachers model kindness, deep respect, and thoughtfulness and know how to foster independence in a healthy and constructive manner. We hire teachers who are true professionals and demonstrate a high degree of moral integrity.

 

“She [the Montessori teacher] must acquire a moral alertness which has not hitherto been demanded by any other system, and this is revealed in her tranquility, patience, charity, and humility. Not words, but virtues, are her main qualifications.” —The Discovery of the Child

Next, we consider applicants who have already earned their Montessori certification. But we have also developed a successful in-house training program that supports the professional development of existing staff. It recognizes their hard work, dedication, and talent and provides them with the opportunity to complete Montessori training. We also provide substantial ongoing professional development so each teacher can pursue advanced opportunities to gain new knowledge and hone their craft. 

All teachers clear a thorough federal background check, provide quality references to verify their professionalism and character, complete a multi-stage interview process, and provide a clean bill of health. 


 

When do students begin enrichment classes?

In a Montessori classroom, every day is full of novel experiences. We wanted to provide a space dedicated to the creative and abstract thinking process. Students are provided an entire space filled with brain games, engineering and architecture tools, and every art material they can image, to equip them with the essentials to explore and discover. This open-ended thinking process allows them to collaborate, plan, discuss, and create so that amazing ideas come to life. 
 

Toddlers have a new sensory experience to look forward to every day when they walk through the doors of their classroom. Music and Song exploration will take place outside for the time being. Teachers introduce basic Spanish and Sign Language. 
 

Early Childhood - Middle School Students attend Library, Art/MakerSpace, Physical Education classes each week. Music and Spanish classes are taught in the classrooms. 
 

Do students take part in area competitions?

Lamplighter has a long history of taking part in Model United Nations, art contests, Academic "Bees", and even host their own Book Awards each year for Upper Elementary students. However the past few years has ushered in a new excitement to participate in community events.

 


Lamplighter elementary and older students compete in the Spelling Bee, Geography Bee, Who Was? History Bee, and Battle of the Books.

  • 2019-2020 - Lamplighter 2nd grader was a top-ten national Who Was? History Bee winner (out of over 25,000 students nationwide!)

  • 2017-2019 - Lamplighter Upper Elementary students won first place in the regional competition of Battle of the Books

Students also enter regional and national art competitions.

  • 2018, 2019, and 2020 - Lamplighter students placed in the top three of the “Smokey the Bear” fire prevention poster competition

  • 2019-2020 - Lamplighter 5th grader won first place in the world-wide Peace Crane competition, representing the US, along with winners from Russia and Germany

  • 2019-2020 - Lamplighter 2nd grader won first place in his age category for MLGW’s city-wide art contest, Lamplighter 6th grader won Honorable Mention

  • 2019-2020 - Lamplighter elementary students 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in Confucius Institute's Chinese Art contest
     

How well do children transition to a traditional school after attending Lamplighter?

This is one of the most common questions parents ask. The short answer is “really, really well.” Fortunately, the emphasis we place on taking time to be intentional with learning means students are shown how to pursue new knowledge out of a personal desire to learn something that interests and intrigues them. Much like the "teach a man to fish" parable, Montessori students learn how to learn. They also learn to self-evaluate, correct and revise, and improve the quality of their work  out of a sense of agency over their lives. They leave Lamplighter with a well-earned sense of control, self-awareness, and able to influence their own thoughts and behavior. Through their years at Lamplighter, they establish trust in their ability to handle a wide range of tasks and situations. We believe in preparing students to make informed decisions with a strong sense of self in high school, not desensitizing them ahead of time.


In our experience, as parents of students who have gone through our entire program and now have careers and families, we certainly are biased, but we can also honestly say they have thrived as a result of their Montessori schooling.

In a recent Alumni survey, most of the responses mentioned how special the community, friendships, and teachers were in their life. They also gave high marks for increasing their character, diversity, love of learning, and creativity. Alumni indicated they gained an appreciation for unity - not uniformity. They also expressed apprecation for the smaller classrooms with teachers who really cared and taught to their talents and ability. 


“We liked how friendly and accessible the teachers were. Our children met other students who were open minded, friendly, and welcoming.” - 
Former Parent


How do you assess and document student progress?

We use Transparent Classroom, an online learning management system specifically designed for Montessori. The scope and sequence of the Montessori curriculum for each level is populated for each teacher to track each child’s progress through the lessons. Teachers plan lessons, track each student’s progress in each area, and document their social-emotional growth as well. Quarterly conference reports are shared with parents. One details the skills progress through the Montessori curriculum and has a portfolio of picture documentation.

Lamplighter employs a comprehensive social-emotional assessment rubric that starts with indicators at the Toddler level that advance through Middle School as children mature. Parents receive a conference report that assesses their child's social-emotional learning through a set series of indicators. Another report shares qualitative observations and sets student goals.

Parents meet with teachers twice a year to discuss their child’s Montessori experience and progress. Parents can track their child's lessons to see what materials they are currently completing and then learn how they teach concepts. They often receive photo updates via text or email of memorable moments or favorite activities.

 

Do students take tests or have homework?

Students kindergarten through Middle school take the nationally-normed SAT 10 achievement test in the spring as a practical life skill and to measure a year’s worth of growth. Results are shared with parents at the end of the school year. 
 

Students practice taking spelling tests and timed math quizzes at the elementary level and older to practice test-taking skills and working under a set timeline. However, these are fun activities that students enjoy and can go back and correct any errors.

Homework is not assigned but students may need to occasionally bring home any unfinished assignments. Or, they might want to keep working on a favorite activity.

 

How do students demonstrate knowledge without the use of grades?

Most assessment methods start, and end, with checking for correctness and assigning a grade. While this is an important first step, we don't stop there. We believe children learn best when they learn from their mistakes and respond to meaningful feedback. In Mastery Learning, the focus is on providing students with enough time to truly understand what they have learned and revise their work through a feedback loop. They also should be able to demonstrate comprehension in more than one way. Here are some examples of how Lamplighter students demonstrate mastery learning:
 

Completing a hands-on work correctly, teacher documents skill

Teaching other students lessons they have mastered

Written assignments

Presentation boards

Book reports

Individual and small group projects

Research papers

Quizzes

Group dialogue 

Public speaking presentations

Science Fair

Geography Fair
 

Can a Montessori child just do whatever they want? Tell me more about structure and meeting state standards.

It is important to emphasize that Montessori has a robust curriculum. Our method meets all state standards using experiential learning materials to teach these fundamental concepts. Within the much larger scope and sequence of the Montessori curriculum, there is room to tailor learning according to your child’s specific needs and talents. It is true that there is a lot of choice given to Montessori students, but they are also taught how to make responsible, independent choices. There is “freedom within limits.” This actually requires a great deal more “structure” because it comes from within each child, not directed or decided by the teacher. However, if your child displays any hesitancy (which would be unlikely) to explore a diverse range of subjects, this is where the trained Montessori teacher uses her expertise. She carefully observes each child’s progress and makes note where they could benefit from more direction. It is her job to introduce appealing lessons that spark your child’s interest in learning new skills.
 

What does a typical school day look like for my child?

Each multi-aged level is organized around meeting the developmental needs of its students. The routines, materials, student learning and independence goals reflect a commitment to quality and adherence to the Montessori Method. 
 

 

Toddler Classrooms 

  • Arrival: 8:15am - 8:30am

  • 1 ½ hour work cycle

    • art activities, sensory exploration, and Montessori materials and lessons from the shelves

    • wash hands, eat a snack, and practice toilet learning 

  • Outside play time

    • run and play with friends

    • develop physical coordinatio on playground equipment

    • keep cool under shade sails

    • eat a snack with a friend at a picnic table

  • Group time 

    • songs, dance, games, books

    • toilet learning and hand washing

  • Lunch: 11:00am - 11:30am

    • toilet learning and hand washing

    • transition to nap time, put lunch away, prepare sleep area 

  • Nap: 12:00pm - 1:30pm 

  • Afternoon work cycle 1:30pm - 3:15pm

    • toilet learning and hand washing

    • art activities

    • playtime outdoors

    • transition to dismissal

  • Dismissal: 3:15pm - 3:30pm

 

 

At the early childhood level, students build their concentration levels with a 2 ½ - 3 hour work cycle from 8:15 am - 11:15 am. This includes time for outdoor education, physical education, and MakerSpace studio time. They self-serve a healthy snack when they are hungry, drink from their water bottle when thirsty, and have immediate access to the bathroom as needed. Playtime is 11:15 am-12:00 pm. Lunch time with friends is 12:00 pm -1:00 pm (two groups for 2020). Nap time is 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm. They have another work cycle in the afternoon. This includes choosing their favorite work from the shelves, games, group activities, story time, show and tell, or additional outdoor exploration.

Elementary - Middle School students have a three hour work cycle 8:15 am - 11:15 am. They enjoy time outside with friends and then eat lunch in their classroom. Around 12:30 pm they begin read-aloud literature time, and then progress to another afternoon work time until 3:15 pm. Each classroom has scheduled PE classes, MakerSpace studio time, Library, outdoor exploration and access to the ninja ropes course. Upper Elementary and Middle Schoolers learn recreational life games such as croquet, horse shoes, and corn hole. Middle Schoolers also take walks on the Greenline, print their designs on the 3-D printer, research on their personal laptop, and benefit from over 500 lessons about our world, culture, science, and geography with Virtual Reality headsets. One of their favorites is Wild Immersion, endorsed by Jane Goodall. This VR experience whisks students away to explore Asia Oceania, Africa, and Amazonia. 
 

Do you offer scholarships or financial aid?

Lamplighter is a tuition funded, independent school, which means every family’s financial contribution funds all of the school operations. We rely on full tuition to maintain a high standard of education and retain top talent. We do not discount our Toddler program. Returning families are eligible to apply for financial aid. The application link is found on the website under the “TUITION” tab. We do not provide scholarships at this time. 

Does my child have to be toilet trained before they start in early childhood. 

The short answer is “yes.” Teachers want your child to succeed and are happy to give reminders and prompts. However, your child should be able to pull up their own clothes and change them if needed. We encourage parents to provide their children with comfortable clothes they can easily manage and have their child practice dressing and undressing at home.