Choosing a Montessori preschool for your children involves understanding what authentic Montessori is all about. Because the name is not trademarked, some private schools use the name but function much differently. Some key points to look for in Montessori preschools include:
- Training and Accreditation
Authentic Montessori preschools are accredited by the AMI. Because Montessori is child-centric, teachers are trained to observe and guide children toward goals rather than simply dictating the course of studies. AMI accreditation is a badge of honor for the school and a guarantee of authentic Montessori methods for the parents.
- Full Child Development
Some people describe Montessori preschool as a holistic approach to learning. Instead of focusing on academics alone, the Montessori Method addresses all aspects of a child’s education, including fine motor skills, academic studies, and social skills.
- Multi-Age Classrooms
Montessori classrooms contain children of mixed ages, typically covering a spread of 1.5 to 3 years, with closer ages in the smallest children and broader changes for preschool and elementary students. Montessori Method uses the idea that younger children will readily learn from older ones, and helping younger children helps older kids develop a sense of personal value.
- Self-Directed Learning
Children learn to be more self-reliant in Montessori preschool. With uninterrupted blocks of time to work in, child select self-directing activities which help them learn in specific ways:
- Sensorial Learning
- Practical Life
- Language and Communication
- Basic Math Concepts
- Social and Cultural
- Authentic Montessori Materials
Montessori classroom materials are designed to be multi-purpose and engaging for children who are learning to sort, stack, count and explore. They are created to serve as play-based learning tools for everything from developing fine motor skills to performing simple addition and subtraction, to honing social interaction skills with other children.
- Montessori Method
Teachers are called guides in a Montessori setting, referring to the fact they are focused on observing and guiding children. Montessori Method revolves around the child’s perspective and encourages childhood development. In this way, the teacher guides children to self-fulfillment and a sense of achievement or purpose.
Play-based learning alone does not indicate a Montessori environment. Authentic schools will adhere to Maria Montessori’s philosophies, the tools she created, and the methods she found to be successful. Look for– and ask about– these things when you visit the school.