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How Do You Choose a School

Now that you have learned the basics of Montessori education, how do you use this information to find the best school for you and your child? A school should be judged by the following factors:

  • philosophy
  • physical plant
  • program
  • students
  • commitment to Montessori principles of observation, individual liberty, and preparation of the environment

If you want a  Montessori  education  for your child,  you  must first  have  done  enough reading on the subject to know how your own philosophy of child rearing and education compare and differ from that offered in a Montessori school. Before going to observe ; school, set up a mental list of your criteria and know exactly what it is that you are looking! for to best suit the needs of your child. It is important to find a school atmosphere that is compatible with the home environment, rather than diametrically opposed to it. Children learn far more from imitation of what they see and do than from what they hear.

Because of individual adaptations and interpretations, all Montessori schools differ somewhat. These differences can be minor or significant, but there will always be common elements:

  • An environment prepared with child sized furnishings
  • An array of learning materials on shelves
  • Children free to move about while pursuing disciplined activity - singly or in small groups within a three year age span
  • Teachers who are observing and directing the activities of the children's interaction and rapport between the teachers and the children should be positive

Remember that any classroom can have an impressive array of materials and the superficial appearance of a "good school", but there is far more to be observed than just that.  You want a place where your child will feel happy and secure while he is learning, where he is treated and respected as an individual and where he feels comfortable in his surrounds while realizing what is expected of him in this new situation.  A child's first school experience has a great effect on his future feeling concerning school and the learning process, therefore it is vitally important to make a wise decision in these early years of a your child's educational experience.

What Montessori can do for your child will largely depend on how his directress/director (teacher) interprets and applies Montessori philosophy and principles in a concrete situation. The biggest favor that you can do for your child, once he has been enrolled in a Montessori school, is to become actively involved yourself.

The return on your investment in Montessori will be enhanced if there is a consistency between your home and your child's classroom. This does not mean putting Montessori materials in your living room.  It means taking the Montessori perspective.  With this perspective, your attitudes, your pace, your expectations, and the limits you establish for your child will be in keeping with the principles that Maria Montessori developed for her teachers - principles that came from her lifelong observation of the nature of children. To gain this perspective, you can read Montessori's writings, attend parent information nights at your child's school, and / or join a Montessori discussion group.

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