8 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Montessori School

When it comes to choosing the right preschool, daycare or school for your child, it is easy to become overwhelmed. There are many different options to consider.  Many parents are interested in Montessori education for their preschoolers and children from infancy through adolescence, but may not know what to look for when trying to determine which Montessori school will be the best fit for their child.  Here are some helpful questions to ask when looking at Montessori schools in your area:

  1. What does Montessori mean? Before you can understand how to choose the right Montessori school for your child, you should know what it means to be a Montessori school. When touring a Montessori school, hearing the staff explain what Montessori means to them can be a good indicator of the type of Montessori education your child would receive at the school.  Montessori education was founded in 1907 by Maria Montessori, the first female physician in Italy. She based her educational methods on scientific observations of children and their learning processes. Dr. Montessori used her observations to better understand the inner nature of a child, and her child-centered Montessori approach is based on her findings. Montessori emphasizes learning through all five senses. Children in Montessori classes learn at their own, individual pace and according to their own choice of activities. Learning becomes an exciting process of discovery, leading to concentration, motivation, self-discipline, and a love of learning. Learn more
  2. Do they strive for academic excellence? If you want your child to achieve academic excellence in his or her schooling career, you should ensure that the school you choose for your child shares this goal. So, what exactly is defined as academic excellence at the Montessori schools you are considering? Ask the staff at each school to gain some valuable insight.  When we speak in terms of a student striving for academic excellence, this is typically referring to the child’s effort to fully achieve their intellectual potential. How can you determine if the schools you are considering are striving to achieve academic excellence? This is demonstrated through the student’s pursuit to acquire, adapt, and apply knowledge. Learn more
  3. Is an authentic Montessori education being provided? As you are considering Montessori schools, you should ensure that an authentic and effective Montessori education is provided. But what constitutes an authentic Montessori education, and what makes it effective? The school’s culture should be devoted to helping each child grow toward independence. This is done through building confidence, increasing competence, promoting self-esteem, and teaching respect for others. Montessori is not simply an approach to education, but it is an approach to life. There are specific details of a Montessori program that should be followed if the school is providing an authentic, effective Montessori education. Learn more
  4. Are private school and Montessori benefits being maximized? Before even considering a Montessori school, the choice that many parents struggle with is that of public vs. private school. Parents are often unsure if they want to take on additional expenses if they will not ultimately benefit their child. After all, many public schools do an excellent job of educating students. However, the benefits of a private education can still far outweigh the costs depending on the local options parents may face. Learn more
  5. Do they offer kindergarten? If you are looking for a Montessori preschool now, you will eventually need to decide whether to enroll your 5-year old in public school, or keep them in the Montessori program for kindergarten. Then you may want to think through if there is a possibility you would want to consider continuing your child’s Montessori education after kindergarten. To start, you should be well informed about the value in having a kindergarten program available at your Montessori school. Families who place a high priority on their children’s education will often go to great lengths to keep their children in Montessori through kindergarten and even beyond. So, why is this? The Montessori approach involves working with children in a way that is carefully based on what we’ve learned about the cognitive, neurological, and emotional development of a child. Over recent years, educational research has increasingly shown that students in many traditional schools often don’t truly comprehend a lot of what they are being taught. An important advantage that Montessori offers 5-year olds is how the approach helps children “learn how to learn.” Learn more
  6. Are they a member of the American Montessori Society (AMS), and are teachers certified? The reality is that anyone can legally use the name “Montessori” in their school. Of the approximately 4,000 Montessori schools in the U.S., just over 1000 are members of the American Montessori Society (AMS). While membership in AMS does not guarantee the quality of the education that a member school offers, it does hold the school accountable to the Society’s Code of Ethics and principles of membership which the AMS stands for. It is also important to ask if teachers are AMS or Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) certified. Training for certification ranges from 200 to 600 pre-service contact hours, covering the principles of child development and teaching the Montessori philosophy. Learn more
  7. Are extended hours available? In family situations when both parents are working in full time occupations, the availability of school or day care program with extended hours is a necessary concern. The primary focus of a quality Montessori program should be centered around providing an effective academic program and an outstanding Montessori education. However, day care and/or extended hours can be provided as an additional service. When considering a Montessori school, you should look at the programs offered to ensure that they are focused on providing academic excellence, and are not simply acting as a “daycare” facility. But also, be sure that the school’s programming hours and availability meet your needs.
  8. What foreign language and enrichment programs are offered? The mind of a child is like a sponge for knowledge. A child can easily absorb information, soak it in, begin to process it, and retain the knowledge in their long-term memory at a much greater capacity then we do as adults. That’s why it is so important to begin teaching children a second language at a young age. A good Montessori program will offer foreign language for even the youngest learners. Learn more

Choosing a quality Montessori school will provide your child the foundation they need, as they embark upon their educational journey. This can be one of the best decisions you will make for your child.  Don’t be afraid to ask these questions and more to help you in this important decision-making process for your family.