Frequently Asked Questions

What has the school planned for its reopening for September 2020?

The school's staff adhere to all of the NYS Education Department and CDC guidance for health and safety protocols in the care and education of the students.


For a complete description, please see the FAQ section of the school's Reopening Plan.

Does my child have to be vaccinated to enroll?

New York State (NYS) Public Health Law Section 2164 and New York Codes, Rules and Regulations (NYCRR) Title 10, Subpart 66-1 require every student entering or attending public, private or parochial school in New York State (NYS) to be immune to diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, measles, mumps, rubella, poliomyelitis, hepatitis B, varicella and meningococcal in accordance with Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommendations. 


Every child in day care, Head Start, nursery school or prekindergarten in NYS must be immune to diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, measles, mumps, rubella, poliomyelitis, hepatitis B, varicella, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), and pneumococcal disease.


Public Health Law Section 2164 provides for medical exemptions to immunization.


Full details on school and child care immunization requirements are available at New York State Immunization Requirements for School Entrance/Attendance (PDF).

What is the difference between Montessori and conventional education?

     Children in Montessori classes learn at their own, individual pace and according to their own choice of activities from numerous possibilities. Learning is an exciting process of discovery, leading to concentration, motivation, self-discipline and a natural 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 represents an entirely different approach to education.

My child doesn’t speak Spanish. How will she be able to understand and communicate in her bilingual class?

     Castle Island uses a bilingual model of having two teachers each using one language with the children in the class. Since most Montessori lessons are carried out one-on-one with the teacher, your child will have hands on experiences in Spanish. She will hear new language in the context of the materials with which she is working and begin to show understanding by pointing to a material or answering just “yes” or “no”. After a few months of working individually with the Spanish speaking teacher and participating in daily stories, songs and games in Spanish, your child will begin to naturally acquire Spanish as she did as an infant and toddler with English.

Is Montessori good for children with unique needs or abilities?

     Montessori is designed to help all children reach their fullest potential at their own unique pace. A classroom where children have varying abilities is a community in which everyone learns from one another and everyone contributes. Moreover, multiage grouping allows each child to find his or her own pace without feeling “ahead” or “behind” in relation to peers.

Which ages does Montessori serve?

     While there are many early childhood Montessori programs for children up to age 6, but Montessori is not limited to this age group. Across the US there are many Montessori schools serving elementary (ages 6-12), adolescent (ages 12-15) and even high school (ages 15-18) children.

Are Montessori children successful later in life?

     Research studies show that Montessori children are well prepared for adult 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, negotiating social interactions and adapting to new situations. Here’s a Wall Street Journal article about business leaders who attended Montessori schools, including the founders of Google, Amazon and Wikipedia.

What special training do Montessori teachers have?

     The two major organizations offering Montessori training in the United States are the American Montessori Society (AMS) and the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI). Most training centers require a bachelor’s degree for admission. Training ranges from 200 to 600 pre-service contact hours and covers principles of child development and Montessori philosophy as well as specific uses of the Montessori classroom materials. Montessori training centers can be found across North America and around the world. Castle Island Bilingual Montessori is an initiate member of the American Montessori Society, the foremost advocate for quality Montessori education.

What is the best way to choose a Montessori school for my child?

     Ask if the school is affiliated with any Montessori organization. Ask what kind of training the teachers have. Visit the school, observe the classroom in action, and later ask the teacher or Head of School to explain the theory behind the activities you saw, as well as their philosophy of child development and education to see if it is compatible with your own.

How many Montessori schools are there?

There are an estimated 8,000 certified Montessori schools in the United States and about 22,000 worldwide.

Are Montessori schools religious?

     Some Montessori schools have a religious affiliation, but most do not. Castle Island Bilingual Montessori is not affiliated with any religious association.

If my child is left to choose his/her own activities, will he/she tend to do the same thing every day or simply do nothing?

     No. The teachers are trained to observe the children’s activities. When a child has mastered a skill, the teacher will give the child a new lesson that is more challenging, considering the age and interest of each child. Because the environment is so stimulating and exciting, children seldom “do nothing.” The teachers guide the children to ensure a balance of language, math and cultural (history, geography, science, art, biology) work.

How do children transition from Montessori to conventional schools?

     It has been our experience, and the experience of virtually all Montessori schools, that the transition is very smooth. The brief adjustment period is no more than the adjustment that occurs when transferring from one traditional to another traditional school. Montessori alumni typically score well on the standardized tests and consistently show enhanced ability for following directions, independent thinking, and adapting to new situations. Teachers often comment on the leadership abilities of a child that comes to them via a Montessori program, as well as their overall depth of knowledge. Castle Island’s pre-school and school-aged curriculum is educationally equivalent to conventional school curriculum, covering all of the learning objectives included in the “Common Core” standards and beyond. Because of the unique Montessori approach to learning, students typically meet and exceed the learning outcomes of conventional schools, and develop many exceptional non-academic skills in addition to the academic content that they are expected to acquire.

What is a typical day like in the Elementary class?

     The day flows with as few interruptions to your child as possible. There is an uninterrupted independent work period in the morning, followed by a group circle, and outdoor play time. In the afternoon the students eat lunch, continue their work, have more small or large group lessons and attend special classes (i.e. Movement, Music, Art, Gardening, Sports, etc.).

What is the desired size of a Montessori classroom?

     A Montessori class is fairly large, typically around 20-30. Since it is a mixed-age class with ages between 3 to 6, 6 to 9, 9 to 12, 12 to 14 years, a large classroom provides a better mix of different ages and sufficient numbers of the same age. This allows effective interactions between the children of the same age as well as different age groups. An older child helping a younger one is pivotal to the success of a Montessori classroom. This classroom size does not pose a challenge for the teachers since the carefully planned environment allows children to function independently with minimal help from the teachers.

What is the student to teacher ratio?

     Our classes are staffed with at least one AMS trained teacher, as well as an assistant teacher. One teacher is fluent in English while the other is fluent in Spanish. The student-teacher ratio is approximately 12:1.

How does the teacher keep track of the progress of students who are working independently?

     The Montessori method of education is designed to support different learning styles, helping students learn to work and study in a way that is effective for them. Students progress as they master new skills, building on their prior experiences and moving ahead when they are ready. The children move through a logical progression from the initial lesson, to repetition with help or input from the teacher, to independence and mastery. The teacher keeps records of where each child is in this process, looking for signs of mastery and readiness to proceed. An inventory of the lessons and projects completed by each student is reviewed frequently.

In a multi-age class, will my eight-year-old spend the year taking care of younger children instead of doing his or her own work?

     The older children in a Montessori class often help the younger children with their work, solidifying their understanding of the lesson. Anyone who has ever had to teach a skill to someone else knows that the process of explaining a new concept or helping someone practice a new skill leads the teacher to learn as much, if not more, than the pupil. This is supported by research. The act of teaching other children also develops leadership skills and confidence. However, older children spend the majority of their time on their own work.

Does Castle Island accept donations? Will my donation be tax-deductible?

     Castle Island is supported in part by the generous contributions of community members, and your donation can greatly help to support the school’s mission to provide accessible innovative education to the children of the Capital District. Your monetary or in-kind donation will be tax-deductible according to the IRS regulations regarding contributions to qualified organizations. Castle Island was approved for IRS 501(c)(3) Tax Exempt – Recognized Nonprofit status on January 31, 2014, which is retroactively active from August 1, 2013, and remains in good standing.

I receive a childcare subsidy through DSS that I can use to pay for my child’s daycare. Can I use that subsidy at Castle Island?

     CIBM is a DSS approved site, enrolled with the Capital District Childcare Council, which operates under the auspices of OCFS. Castle Island accepts DSS subsidies for non-school-aged children (3 and 4 year olds), and accepts DSS subsidies for before and after-care for enrolled school aged children. We are happy to work with you and your caseworker to determine whether your child is eligible.

Is Castle Island a daycare or a school? Why does Castle Island not appear in the OCFS database of daycare providers? Is the school recognized by the NYS Education Department?

     Castle Island is a not-for-profit, independent, non-public school incorporated in 2012, and recognized by the University of the State of New York Department of Education with a “provisional charter” granted by the NYS Board of Regents (a “charter” in this case is the legal organizing document; Castle Island is not a charter school). When it opened Castle Island was licensed as a day care by OCFS from September 17, 2012 to September 17, 2013. In 2013, Castle Island expanded its program to include first graders, making it exempt from registration with OCFS as a licensed daycare. It is now recognized as a legally-exempt provider by the Capital District Childcare Council, serving pre-school and school-aged children. Castle Island is an enriching, educationally advanced alternative to standard daycares, and also an innovative early-education opportunity for school-aged children in kindergarten and first grade; the school works with NYSED’s Office of Non-public Schools and the Office of Child and Family Services to provide its children with a safe, educationally appropriate environment.

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Do not train a child to learn by force or harshness; but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each.


— Plato

© 2020 Castle Island Bilingual Montessori

Castle Island Bilingual Montessori is an independent school and does not discriminate in our enrollment policies on the basis of race, color, gender, religion, sexual orientation, nation or ethnic origin.