Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Choosing a Montessori School for Your Child: Tips for Finding the Right Fit

NAMC choosing a montessori school for your child mother walking with son
As a certified Positive Discipline parent coach, I ask parents to imagine a time 25 years from now: Your child pulls into the driveway ready to share time and a meal with you. What kind of adjectives would you use to describe your child? The responses are overwhelmingly positive. Not once have I heard a parent say they want their child to be stressed, depressed, co-dependent, or unhappy. In fact, all parents agree that they wish their children to know happiness, respect, independence, and love.

Choosing a Montessori education for your child is a good step toward helping him become be an independent and happy adult. But how do you know if the Montessori school you are considering is the right one for your child? Although they embrace the same methodology and philosophy, each Montessori school is different. Finding the one that best fits your child’s needs, personality, and learning style requires some careful reflection. Let’s look at some factors to consider when looking for the right Montessori school for your child.

How to Choose the Right Montessori School for Your Child: Experience it Yourself

Some schools are more traditional, choosing to remain true to the original Montessori philosophy and practices and not deviating from how Dr. Montessori presented the methodology over 100 years ago. Other schools are more flexible, taking into account changes in culture, research, and technology and incorporating these into the school’s culture. Before visiting a Montessori school, ask about the school’s vision or mission statement. Be sure the philosophy of the school matches your personal parenting philosophy.

Teacher Preparation
Dr. Montessori was very precise about the responsibilities of her teachers. Her method was specialized and she wanted teachers to receive training specific to the method. When choosing a school, ask about the qualifications of their teachers. All teachers should have or be in the process of obtaining their Montessori training. The administrative team should have a background in Montessori, as well.

Using Your Senses
Maria Montessori believed that education occurred through the refinement of the senses. When visiting a potential Montessori school, use your senses to understand the environment.
NAMC choosing a montessori school for your child children reading together
  • Observe the environment. Is it neat and orderly? Is it free from clutter and distractions? Are the Montessori materials prominently displayed? Is there plenty of floor space for children to spread out and work?
  • Look, too, at the children. Are they smiling and happy? Are they working intently or wandering around? Are they actively working with and engaging with the Montessori materials or are they doing worksheets and workbooks?
  • Close your eyes and listen. Notice not only what is being said, but how it is being said. Is there respect for the child? Are there choices being offered? Do you hear words of encouragement or words of punishment? Is there laughter and joy?
  • Is this someplace you would want to be every day? Would you have liked it as a child? Does it feel homey and secure? Do you feel welcome and safe? Imagine your child attending and learning there. How does he greet you at the end of the day? Is he happy or will he dread returning the next day?
If you have the opportunity, visit multiple Montessori schools before you make your final choice. While word-of-mouth is often the Montessori school’s best advertising, you owe it to your child to personally visit and spend some time at the schools to know which is best for your child. Only then will you be able to make a wise choice.
As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Tuesday, March 5, 2013.


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