Once you have decided that Montessori is the path for your child, picking the best Montessori preschool is the next step. Factors that you should keep in mind when choosing include whether the school uses authentic Montessori, how many children are in a classroom, and how well you and your child “connect” to the school staff and students.
Be wary of schools that use the Montessori name but do not practice the Montessori Method. An authentic Montessori preschool will have Montessori certified instructors, child-centric classrooms, and Montessori workstations. Unless the school follows Maria Montessori’s teaching philosophy, it isn’t really Montessori. Look for things like mixed-age groups, child-sized furnishings, and a practical life skills area.
Staff to Student Ratio
Montessori preschools keep the staff to student ratio as high as possible. Each classroom will have one Montessori teacher and one or more aides to assist with children. Because Montessori is a self-teaching environment, teachers and staff are able to devote more time to children who need a little extra guidance while other children are happily busy with their self-guided activities.
Visit the School
Not only should you tour the school before enrolling your child, but you should also bring your child in for an interview. Take notice of how the staff interacts with the children and the activities the children are working on. Ask questions of the teachers and staff. Introduce your child and observe how the school staff and other children interact with him. It is important that you feel comfortable with the staff and facility.
Location and Availability
For working parents, the Montessori preschool location and availability may be critical factors. The posted hours of operation are important so that you can plan your commutes. Authentic Montessori schools typically offer before and after school care as well, and that makes life easier for you while allowing your children to spend more time with their school friends.
Take your time in choosing a Montessori preschool. Your children are the most important thing in the world, and you should feel reassured with your final choice. Making the right choice today will give your child a lasting advantage for years to come.