Posted on: 8 June 2020
What should you look for in a Montessori preschool? If your child is ready to start preschool, the school tour experience can leave you with questions. Before you make a decision, take a look at what you should expect to see in a quality Montessori classroom.
A Mix of Ages
Montessori programs use a multi-age approach to classroom groupings. Traditional preschool programs often divide classes into specific one-year age groups (such as three-year-olds, four-year-olds, or five-year-olds). In comparison, the Montessori early education room mixes children ages three through six.
The multi-age classroom isn't just an option in Montessori education—it's a foundational practice. A school that doesn't allow ages to mix isn't following the principles of the basic educational philosophy. If you have concerns about the multi-age approach, talk to the school's staff. This educational strategy has benefits, including the promotion of social and emotional growth.
Montessori programs don't take a passive approach to learning. You should expect to see plenty of hands-on activities and exploration. This means the students will actively participate in the learning experience and use materials they can physically manipulate.
Individual and Group Activities
Montessori programs use a mix of individual, small-group, and whole-group activities. This type of learning environment encourages young children to learn in different ways while developing skills such as emotional intelligence, social understanding, independence, and self-reliance.
When you tour a Montessori preschool, you may see one or all of these types of groupings. There's no magic formula used to divide class time into individual, small-group, and large-group activities. Instead, the educator may allow the children to take the lead. If the students actively engage in individual explorations, it's not likely the teacher will push the children to move into a group activity.
An Aesthetically Pleasing Environment
Montessori programs don't stock preschool classrooms with plastic play furniture, generic posters, or piles of toys. The Montessori preschool room is an aesthetically pleasing environment, with a home-like feel. Instead of shelves overflowing with toys, the Montessori classroom is neat, orderly, and remains clean at all times.
Along with the aesthetics, the Montessori preschool space is also set up to provide easy access for the young students. Prepared items are placed on reachable shelves, where the students can remove and replace the items. You'll also see child-sized furniture (chairs and tables) as well as real-world items. These may include utensils for meals/snacks or other items for everyday use.Share