So, you’ve decided to go with the Montessori method of schooling for your preschooler, but what’s the next step? How do you decide on the right school for your child?
Every single day I get queries from parents, especially prospective parents, about what makes the perfect Montessori. How do I choose a Montessori school? they ask me. They want names; they want to get directed to a perfect place. Let me tell you, no one can answer this question for you or for your child.
However, there are aspects which you can consider, a checklist of sorts. and hopefully you will find the Montessori pre-school your child would love; a space s/he belongs to. So who am I, that parents ask me these questions? Well, I just happen to run a small group on a social media site about Montessori schools in Bangalore. I have also recently started my own House of Children in Bangalore, called Ayelet Montessori.
From my knowledge about the method, I can say, if you want to admit your child in a Montessori, please do your homework. Read about the method and go for an observation at a Montessori school. Now, in the case of a newly launched Montessori like ours, how can you observe these things?
Here are three things to know when you choose a Montessori school for your child
1. Study the environment
- Most children ideally should be happily engaged and enthusiastic to learn. They will be independently doing a lot of work/activities. The furniture and the material is easily accessible to them and they can handle it themselves(in most cases).
- The adult in the Montessori environment is a guide, an observer and not a teacher. You might see the guide carefully observing, working with a single child or group of children.
- Older children are mostly independent workers; extremely comfortable in the environment. You might see some of them working with younger children as well.
- Mostly children and adults are respectful and courteous in their interaction.
- Children of mixed age groups work together harmoniously. Age groups typically can be 1-3 years, 3-6 years, 6-9 years and 9-12 years.
- Most guides need to be Montessori certified in the environment.
- The environment should foster independence and a desire to learn.
2. Ask the right questions
Prepare a list of questions before you go and ask the director/ headmistress. Ensure you get all your answers.
Here are some things you can ask:
- Who oversees the Montessori?
- What are the working hours of the school?
- Is the school registered with a Montessori body or are the adults registered? What about State government accreditation? Please know, not all Montessori schools choose to get a recognition from a Montessori body, but at least the guide/s need to be Montessori trained.
- Do they have mixed-age group classes?
- What age range do they cater to?
- What are the qualifications of the adults in the environment?
- What is the student-teacher ratio per environment?
- What is your idea of Montessori, what’s the overall goal of your school?
Besides the above points, ensure you ask your questions about safety, hygiene, quality of staff, help and other concerns.
3. Know what a typical Montessori should have
Here is something I read on Facebook, on a Montessori group I follow. Some aspects of the Montessori-prepared environment are:
- Beauty (must be clean & inviting).
- Order (everything in its place and a place for everything).
- Nature (access to plants or pets, or both. Use of natural local material. No plastic toys).
- Social environment (mixed ages, freedom to move).
- Reality based activities (real objects for the children to use).
- Intellectual environment (self-teaching material).
- A calm, unhurried space.
- A well-prepared adult/guide who is warm and soft spoken.
- A peaceful and orderly environment which promotes movement and activity.
- A truly wonderful place full of interesting activities which “call” to the child, promoting independent learning.
“The goal of early education should be to activate the child’s own natural desire to learn”– Maria Montessori
It’s important to be an aware parent and pick a Montessori for your child wisely. Have these tips helped you? What would you want addressed as a concerned parent? Do let us know.