There are an overwhelming amount of choices to make when you start searching for a daycare, preschool, or kindergarten for your child. Montessori schools are probably on your list, which means you have some questions that need answering. Knowing the facts about Montessori schools will, ultimately, help you make the best decision for your child. Here are some important questions to ask when considering Montessori school for your child:
Does The School Have Credentials?
There are many Montessori schools in the US that claim to follow the teachings of Maria Montessori but hold no accreditation. Attending a genuine Montessori school with a fully certified staff is important if you want the best outcome for your child. Two of the best credentials a Montessori school can have is Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) and American Montessori Society (AMS).
There are other credentials that schools and teachers can obtain, but AMS and AMI are the best for in-person training. All teachers who have trained under AMS or AMI have extensive knowledge about Montessori philosophy. Other certifications come from the North American Montessori Center (NAMC) and International Montessori Council (IMC).
In short, make sure the Montessori school you are considering has properly credentialed administration and teaching staff.
How Does The School Handle Discipline?
Montessori classrooms operate differently than traditional schools. This includes discipline. In Montessori, discipline and obedience are not forced. The classroom experience should be joyful. This means that instead of time-outs and other harsh forms of punishment, Montessori teachers instead work towards co-regulation, as well as logical consequences for actions.
In other words, children who are acting out may be taken aside by the teacher and spoken to in a soft and gentle way. For example, many Montessori classrooms utilize what is called the Peace Corner. It is never used for punishment but instead for children to calm down when they are experiencing a heavy emotion.
Furthermore, Montessori students are guided by teachers to speak civilly to one another and to express their emotions tactfully during disagreements.
Will My Child Be Able to Adjust to Traditional School After Montessori?
One of the common questions parents ask when their child attends a Montessori daycare, preschool, or kindergarten program is if they will struggle in traditional elementary school. Eventually, Montessori students do switch to traditional schooling, whether that be elementary, intermediate, high school, or college. However, there is rarely any issue with this.
The Montessori classroom and curriculum encourages critical thinking, self-motivation, and also adaptability. Research has also found that children from Montessori schools have an edge over traditionally educated students in both academia and social skills. Montessori students also have better test scores once they begin attending traditional schools.
Therefore, even a short period in a Montessori school can do wonders for your child both academically and socially.
What is the Daily Schedule Like?
The trademark of a Montessori school is the 3-hour long period of uninterrupted work. Most schools will have a 3-hour block in the morning and another in the afternoon. The work periods may be shorter or longer, depending on the age of the students. However, all Montessori schools provide their students with a decent length of time to work on their tasks.
The reason why uninterrupted work periods are essential to the Montessori classroom is because that is when children learn the most. By providing the students a time when they can work distraction-free and can concentrate deeply, they are able to challenge their work from different angles. This is when students start to self-assess their work and use the self-correcting materials to their advantage.
During this period, the teachers are also observing. They make notes about who needs more or less of a challenge, for example. Should a child need assistance, they will be there to provide insight for how to go about solving a problem.
Are Classes Mixed-Age?
Another key piece of the Montessori classroom is the mixed age group, such as children between the ages of 3-6. Younger children are given a chance to interact with older students who may become role models and mentors. Infant and toddler groups are the exception, because students tend to develop rapidly.
Most classes are not perfectly balanced, though it is good to find a school with a better ratio between the ages. Classrooms with a good amount of both younger and older students tend to run more smoothly.
Can I Observe a Class?
You are allowed to observe a Montessori classroom to assess the teacher, environment, and interactions between the students. Be on the lookout for a room with accessible materials, including child-sized furniture and supplies. You should also see Montessori materials. There should be more to the classroom materials than books and worksheets. Nature, such as plants and animals, are often found in the Montessori classroom.
See if the teacher knows how to talk to the children. A firm but kind voice is ideal. Also, are the children put into small groups, spoken to individually, or are they gathered into a large group when taught? Montessori classrooms often have individual or small group lessons. Keep an eye out for how the teacher reacts to misbehaving children, as well as the interactions of the children with the environment.
Looking For a Montessori School?
Choosing a quality Montessori school is important in giving your child the fundamental education they need to succeed. Finding an incredible school will feel like one of the best decisions of your life. Be sure to ask these questions and observe the Montessori school of your choice.
If you are looking for a Montessori school in Philadelphia, consider Fishtown Montessori. Our teachers are passionate about what they do, and our classrooms are beautiful spaces for children to explore. Why not give us a call or schedule a virtual tour today?