Before you choose a Montessori preschool for your children, it is a good idea to visit the school, talk with the staff, and observe how the classrooms work. Write down a list of your own questions to ask, including those listed here, and watch how the children and staff interact while you are at the school.
3 Questions You Should AskThere are many things you should ask any person who will be trusted with your children’s welfare, including 3 important subjects to ascertain that you are dealing with an authentic Montessori preschool:
Accreditation - Montessori schools are typically accredited by the AMI. Montessori’s best practices are well-defined and accreditation indicates that the school adheres to them.
Student-Teacher Ratio - AMI standards state that the class size should be no higher than 30, but the ratio differs by the inclusion of assistants working with the teacher. Ideally, the ratio of students to adults in each class should be between 3:1 and 6:1.
Curriculum and Structure - Montessori focuses on 4 avenues of education: practical life, sensorial development, language development, and early preparation for mathematical learning. These avenues are an indicator of a true Montessori environment.
What To Look ForA common reaction from parents entering a Montessori classroom for the first time is that it seems incredibly quiet and organized. Some key indicators of the Montessori classroom include:
Children’s House - The objective is to promote self-worth and personal responsibility by creating an atmosphere made just for children including the size of furniture and placement of decorations.
Toys and Decorations - Montessori avoids the use of fantasy in education and relies on play-based activities that have real-world applications rather than toys that simply occupy the child’s time.
Teacher Observation - Montessori guides spend more time observing than instructing. Their primary objective is to help the children focus and guide them from one activity to activity. The objective is to help children learn naturally rather than through rote memorization.
Montessori Materials - Classrooms should be free of traditional workbooks but filled with authentic Montessori materials and workstations. Live plants are common because they help children develop practical, real-world knowledge.
It is also a good idea to drop in on your chosen Montessori preschool unannounced, both before enrolling and periodically afterward. This gives you a realistic view of how the school operates when they are not expecting visitors, and that can make a huge difference.