What is your daily schedule?
Our virtual classrooms will typically begin and end the day with a full-class meeting, where students can greet their guide and each other, plan for the day, share highlights, and connect. Small group lessons are about 15 - 30 minutes in length and range across the subject areas, taking place throughout the morning and afternoon work periods. When not in lessons, your child will be completing follow-up work, skills practice, and big projects - either alone or collaborating remotely with peers and supported by one of their guides. Please see our sample daily schedule below:
How much support will my child need throughout the day?
There is no magic answer to this, as a child’s ability to master new skills will vary depending on their age, experience, and motivation. Typically, your child will need more support in the first few days and weeks and will grow more independent and confident as time goes on. For the first few days, we recommend that an adult be available most of the day as your child gets familiar with new technology, systems, tools, functions of online learning, and the accountability associated with independent work time. You can support them in building persistence,
concentration, and independence by being there at first, “showing” rather than “doing”, and expressing interest in their learning and their work.
After the first few days, expect some questions to arise as new tasks and challenges come up, and be patient with yourselves and your children as things get underway and strong habits are built. During the second week, your child will likely become more focused, independent, and engaged for longer periods of time, and by the third week, their ongoing level of independence and interaction with you will likely be established.
We will continue to scaffold the parent and student experience and offer individualized support with any challenges that arise. The goal is that everyone in your household will enjoy an independent day of work each day as time goes on.
What does parent-guide communication look like?
Guides will communicate to you weekly with updates and pictures, and individually through Altitude about your child’s progress. They will offer weekly “office hours” for parents during the first weeks and be available for one-on-one conferences and calls with parents to trouble-shoot unique challenges and to help problem-solve any issues that arise.
How do you address special needs and IEP’s?
We ask that you send along any IEP’s, evaluations, records, and documentation of services your child receives prior to enrollment. This will help us determine the level of support and accommodations your child will need in their learning. Our school is not a replacement for any special education or therapy services your child receives, so please do continue that outside of school hours whenever possible. Our guides are experienced and will use their skills, talents, and knowledge to individualize your child’s experience, keeping their unique academic and social-emotional needs in mind. Teamwork between parents and teachers is paramount to making these efforts successful, so we recommend additional meetings to monitor progress and adjust approaches as needed throughout the year.
Is your program a homeschool or a private school program? Will it "count" as real school if my child were to move on next year to a different public or private school?
Guidepost Montessori Virtual School is committed to providing children with a high-quality Montessori education. Our parent company, Higher Ground Education Inc., is a Candidate for Accreditation with Cognia/NCA CASI, NWAC, and SACS CASI. Through its Virtual School program, Guidepost aims to meet or exceed state requirements for private schools but cannot guarantee that student work will be awarded specific credits by governmental authorities. In the event a student transfers from Guidepost Virtual School to another public or private school, we will work with families to assist in obtaining credit for a student's learning at Guidepost Virtual School but cannot guarantee that credits will be awarded. Guidepost
Montessori Virtual School is happy to provide regular progress reports to families to share with other institutions at the parent’s discretion, as well as an elementary scope and sequence. Guidepost Montessori Virtual School’s private school license is active in 36 states. Our private school licensure is currently pending in the following states:
Washington, DC, Massachusetts, Maryland, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Washington, West Virginia, Wyoming
Families enrolled in our Virtual School who reside in any of the states listed above will need to comply with the homeschool requirements in their specific state. For information and resources regarding registering as a home school student in your state, please refer to https://homeschoolstatelaws.com/category/laws-by-state/
Do you have part-time options?
As a private elementary school, we are required to have students attend full time during the academic year. We do have part-time options over the summer.
Do you offer any kind of financial aid or discounts?
We offer a 10% sibling discount from the younger child’s tuition as well as financial aid based on need. You can apply via our FAST program, which is quick, easy, and private!
What are your class sizes and your student-teacher ratios? Why do you have mixed ages together?
Our virtual classrooms optimize for the needs of elementary-aged children, just as our in-person classrooms do. Your child will be in a multi-aged virtual classroom of about 25 children, which offers opportunities for older children to be leaders and role models, for younger children to follow the motivating example of others, and for all to have a variety of peers to collaborate and
socialize with. A class of 25 children will have one Lead Guide and one Assistant Guide, for a student-teacher ratio of about 1:12.
Within these multi-aged classes, we create small, ability-based lesson groups of about 2 - 6 children. So, your child's math group or reading group will typically have only 2 - 6 children in it. This very low instructional ratio offers an optimal opportunity for guides to get to know your child to support engagement, learning, and assessment.
How does socialization/peer contact work at a distance?
We are intentional about creating a sense of community and building in opportunities for children to collaborate and socialize with each other. In addition to our daily community meetings and small group lessons, we integrate rituals (e.g. spoken appreciations at birthdays), sharing times (e.g. Presentation Fridays) and games (e.g. who's got 'Where's Waldo' in the background today?) to foster connection. We also offer ample opportunities for collaboration, for example, opening up break-out rooms for project groups on Zoom.
Do you give tests to the children? How does assessment work?
Especially with young children, it is neither necessary nor helpful to administer or depend on traditional tests and assessments. Ongoing, detailed assessment happens in lessons when the teacher presents a new material, one-on-one with the child (or in small groups with older children), and through daily observation of the child’s work.
We do deliver standardized tests to our Upper Elementary children, and they typically do exceptionally well; however, we do not teach to tests. Instead, we encourage each child's intrinsic motivation by responding to and developing the child’s natural developmental interest. In large part, standardized tests are treated as a Practical Life skill, so that our students are confident and comfortable when taking tests beyond our classrooms, but these are never the goal of daily classroom work.
How will you know if my child is doing his work? How will I know?
Your child will be submitting their finished work through our Altitude Learning Platform, and it will be delivered right to the guide's inbox. The Altitude platform enables your child to capture work completed offline (by easily taking a picture or short video) as well as online.
Your child will also keep a work journal (to record what he is working on, as well as for how long), which is shared with the guide during their regular check-ins. During these check-ins, your child will work directly with the guide, to help develop the ability to prioritize, manage time, reflect on successes and challenges, and take ownership over learning. These personal tools of accountability are highly effective and motivating!
If your child's guide has concerns about work completion, they will contact you. You will also receive updates on your child's learning during parent-teacher conferences and progress reports.
Montessori math requires hands-on manipulatives. How do you do this from home?
Finding ways to provide the rich manipulative-based Montessori math experience at home has taken creativity, innovation, and collaboration on the part of our network of trainers and guides. Some of the hands-on math materials have been effectively reproduced in digital form. For example, we have either sourced, or created ourselves, digital version of the Fraction Insets, the Golden Beads, the Stamp Game, and the Checkerboard. Included with these is a “control of error” where children can self-check their results. These are delivered through our state-of-the-art learning platform, Altitude.
Other materials can be easily reproduced with everyday homemade objects. We have suggestions for quick and easy substitutes for materials like the Large Bead Frame or the Pegboard using materials like construction paper, paper clips, and beans.
Enrolled students will also receive a monthly package including a “kit” to make materials themselves with the guidance of their teachers, as well as some actual Montessori materials that your child can work with at home.
Lastly, some math concepts don’t need specialized materials – in fact, they are best taught embedded in Practical Life activities! This includes mastering money (use real money!), measurement conversion (use measuring cups, rulers, tape measures!), graphing (pie, bar, and linear) and of course word problems–an integral part of any math curriculum. Once a child has reached the point of readiness for memorization in a given operation, online or offline options are available for routine skills practice.
Will I need to purchase special materials or supplies?
No. We will be shipping your child's supplies and materials to you on a regular basis. These shipments will consist of a mixture of Montessori materials and child-constructed materials.
Are your teachers Montessori trained? Are they prepared for teaching in a virtual setting?
Yes! All our lead teachers (guides) are Montessori trained, with a rich background of teaching experience both in the public and private sectors. All our staff members are supported and coached by a central professional development team to ensure they are set up for success in the virtual Montessori environment.