As your child grows, it is important to choose the educational path that will help them be as successful as possible. You might wonder if the Montessori learning method is the right thing for your preschooler. After all, most parents don’t know what to expect from a Montessori preschool.
Montessori Preschool is good for children as preschool is one of the best times for children to be introduced to the Montessori method of education. Whether children continue with Montessori schooling or not, Montessori preschool will help a child be ready for a lifetime of learning.
Let’s take a look at what Montessori preschool has to offer.
When it comes to education, most people are familiar with the sight of desks in a row and chalkboards. However, this isn’t the only option when it comes to school. The Montessori method started in the early 1900s and provides a different approach to learning.
The main goal of Montessori education is to make learning a student-driven process. Instead of having a teacher that instructs the students on math and science using textbooks and worksheets, a Montessori teacher, called a “Director/Directress” or “Guide“—helps guide the students to choose what they want to learn from a selection of different learning materials.
Instead of having classrooms full of desks, Montessori preschools are equipped with shelves along the walls that contain different materials and tools that help the children to learn different concepts. The goal is that the children chose for themselves what they want to learn. By encouraging independent learning and by providing choices for the children, Montessori schools hope to cultivate an attitude of lifelong learning.
When it comes down to it, the main difference between the Montessori Method and traditional schooling is the different goals that the two programs have. Traditional schools seek to prepare children for the workplace. They involve team-oriented projects, structured learning and schedules, deadlines, and an ever-present grading system that holds students towards a standard of performance.
Montessori schools have the goal of turning a student into flexible, self-powered learners and problem solvers. The curriculum seeks to help children play to their strengths while accepting that not every student has the same aptitudes for academic work. There are rarely grading systems present in Montessori schools, and there is much more support for children that have special learning needs.
Montessori Preschools are built around the same ideas as other Montessori schools. Students are free to interact with the other children and participate in the various activities and other things in the classroom. The room is built to help the students try things out individually or in a group of other children. Learning and independence are heavily encouraged.
Like with many other Montessori schools, most Montessori Preschool programs are offered in private school. This can be a problem for many parents, as they may need to drive a long way to drop off and pick up children. These private schools can also be expensive, as it is not cheap to acquire all of the necessary toys and other elements of Montessori learning.
However, there are some public and free Montessori school options.
Though there are challenges that can prevent parents from putting their preschoolers into a Montessori program, there can be many rewards to doing so. Children that are between the ages of 3 and 5 are at the prime spot to start Montessori learning. The program does a great job at helping these younger children to enjoy learning before they begin Kindergarten or First Grade.
Even if you are planning on letting your child go to traditional elementary schools, the habits and attitudes that your children can develop from a Montessori preschool can be impactful on their success as a student throughout their lives. A child’s first year of school is what sets their whole attitude towards education, so it is important to start them off well.
Differences Between Montessori and Traditional Preschools
Though you might assume that Montessori preschools are very different from a traditional preschool program, the reality is that traditional preschools have been changing to support the Montessori model more and more. Educators realize the benefits of having an open, student-driven preschool program, and many standard preschool programs have grown to reflect that.
Though traditional preschools have grown to incorporate more elements of a Montessori program, this isn’t true for all schools. Though a school might consider itself a Montessori school or a traditional school, there aren’t clear guidelines for what makes the difference. Many schools that advertise themselves as Montessori schools are often traditional schools with a few hybrid elements, like de-emphasizing grades. On the other hand, some of the more traditional schools might have been using Montessori ideas for years.
Because of the difficulties that there are in identifying what truly makes a school a “Montessori” school, and because of how many traditional schools have a preschool program that closely resembles the Montessori learning model, it can be difficult to find differences between the two systems. However, there are a couple of factors that you can expect to be different between a true Montessori school and a traditional one.
First of all, the true Montessori learning model involves classrooms containing students of a range of ages. Typical classrooms at a Montessori school contain students whose ages span about 3 years. The purpose of this is to have older students in a classroom that can lead and support the younger ones.
Another main difference between traditional preschools and Montessori preschools is that you will find more diversity of students in a traditional preschool. Because Montessori schools almost all cost money, these schools are almost exclusively attended by students and children from wealthier families. Though there are some Montessori schools that are paid for by a city or by a state, they are rare and even then overrepresent the wealthier population.
When it comes to how well the students from one program or another learn and perform in school throughout their lives, there isn’t much information. Some data suggest that graduates of a Montessori program score higher on standardized tests, while other data shows the opposite. However, there is some data that indicates that graduates of a Montessori school program are more likely to become entrepreneurs or some other form of creator.
Related: Do Montessori Students Do Better Than Traditional Students?
At the end of the day, both preschool programs will support a child’s learning and development. Because the two systems are becoming so mixed at the preschool level, try to prioritize finding a good teacher that you can trust rather than looking for a specific program or school.
The Good and the Bad of Montessori Preschool
Though we have already discussed the main differences between a Montessori preschool and a traditional preschool, it is important to understand what the true pros and cons are for putting a preschooler into a Montessori program. Though many people don’t even have access to a nearby Montessori preschool program, understanding the good and the bad is important to understanding how to supplement your child’s learning at home.
When it comes to the list of good things about a Montessori preschool, there are plenty of options to choose from. First of all, the increased costs of a Montessori school and the particular elements of it generally attract teachers that are more passionate about their work and are more educated about education in general. These schools are well-kept and provide enriching environments for students to learn.
Additionally, Montessori schools are an excellent choice for students that have difficulty learning or other challenges that would prevent them from making as much progress in a traditional school. The Montessori system is much more supportive of students that have these challenges, as the learning is student-driven and goes at each student’s pace.
When it comes to long-term effects on your preschooler, there isn’t enough evidence on how a Montessori preschool experience impacts a student throughout their school years. However, if the Montessori school achieves its goals to influence your child, then your son or daughter will grow up with a greater love for learning and a greater ability to solve problems on their own. They will also hopefully be better leaders and more natural around other people.
See also: Is the Montessori Method Effective?
Having your child attend a Montessori Preschool will also help you to know if you want to send your child to a Montessori school for the rest of their education. By using preschool as a good trial run of the Montessori Method, you can get a better idea of what a Montessori school has to offer. After preschool, you can decide if it would be better to continue with Montessori ideals or not.
There are several downsides or disadvantages of entering your child into a Montessori Preschool. The biggest problem with a Montessori preschool is the price. Tuition at these schools can be steep, depending on the situation. Different programs also encourage parents to provide Montessori learning tools at home, which are not cheap.
Another problem with a Montessori preschool is that you generally are not going to get that much better of an education if you are at a Montessori school compared to a traditional school. Because preschools in the United States are bending to be more and more aligned with Montessori ideals, your child can probably get an excellent Montessori-hybrid education without bringing a large tuition fee.
Another disadvantage of a Montessori preschool is the lack of emphasis on deadlines and other parts of a structured curriculum. While this isn’t as much of a problem in preschool (as preschoolers generally don’t have to worry about deadlines), the culture of Montessori education might make it so that your child has a hard transition from Montessori schooling to the traditional academic system.
While many parents see the less firmly structured model of a Montessori school as something that keeps a child from being prepared for the real world, there is also an argument to be made that overemphasis on grades and deadlines causes undue stress on students. Once out of school, graduates of a Montessori program should be able to quickly adapt to the more rigid requirements of a job.
How to Prepare for Montessori Preschool
If you are planning on having your child attend a Montessori preschool, there are a few things for you to expect and a few ways for you to prepare. First of all, you can prepare your child by having them play with a few of the standard toys that are found in Montessori schools. These usually include a variety of wooden pieces that can be stacked or sorted by color, size, or weight. A little bit of experience with these kinds of things can be really helpful for making your preschooler feel at home while at school.
You can also prepare for a Montessori school experience by meeting the director of your child’s class. While the teachers at Montessori schools don’t play as heavy of a role in instructing your child as a teacher at a conventional school does, the teacher will still play a big role in encouraging a child to learn and to explore their strengths. by talking to your child’s director or directress, you can also get a better idea of what you can expect from a Montessori education.
In addition to these things, you can prepare your child for a Montessori education by providing great learning support for them at home. Remember that the idea of Montessori education is that children learn best when they can independently direct their own learning. You can provide them opportunities to do this while also encouraging them to do things that will help prepare them for working a standard job in the future.
All in all, Montessori preschools provide excellent learning opportunities for children that will hopefully make them lifelong learners that love to experience new things. Though preschool is a small place to start, it can be just the thing for your son or daughter to help them become a vibrant and creative person.