Perhaps your child is nearly school-aged or your child is already in school and you're considering switching from a traditional classroom to a Montessori program. Regardless, knowing the key components of the Montessori philosophy will help you choose a good preschool.
It is Officially Recognized
When looking for a quality Montessori school, consider if the school is part of a professional organization, like the American Montessori Society (AMS). The membership level in which the school is able to join is a reflection of how many classes are led by teachers who have earned credentials from a program that has been accredited by the Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education. If a school is a full member Montessori school, the head teacher in each class has earned these credentials.
Generally a good Montessori school for children under kindergarten age is licensed by either a local agency or state agency. This license indicates that basic standards have been met, like teacher training, safety, and health. Ask about a potential school's licensing and make sure it's current.
See the School Firsthand
Before selecting a Montessori preschool, check it out yourself and look for the elements that set a good school apart from the rest. You'll want to look for classrooms that are mixed-age, have a full selection of Montessori materials, and are led by teachers who function as a guide.
Inside the Class
An efficient classroom should be organized in a manner that encourages the children to be independent, with all items easily accessible. It should be clean and uncluttered, with spaces for the children to work as a group or alone. Rather than desks look for rugs and couches. For older students, you’ll find tables where the students can work together. Also, look for select areas for each part of the school curriculum, such as an area for math, one for art, and so forth. Each area should be clearly defined with appropriate Montessori materials. Nature should also be central in the classroom, such as a display of shells, live plants, or flowers.
The students in a classroom at a good Montessori school should span three years. Older children should serve as role models for the younger ones, and also assist them, as needed. The children should be able to move about as they wish, talk to other students, and choose which activity they would like to do. Respect of school materials and other students is also central to the Montessori method and should be seen.
Good preschool teachers should be observant and thoughtful, guiding the students to help them learn. An awareness of each student's academic level, interests, and learning style is central to guiding each child through the curriculum. Teachers should move about the classroom and demonstrate respect and kindness.
If you're looking for a good Montessori school, contact us at Montessori School of Pleasanton and schedule a tour to see our school!