What parents should look for in a Montessori school
All sorts of factors can influence your choice of school - location, reputation, fees and so on. However it is wise to remember that it is not you but your children that will be attending the school so:
- Look at the school from your child's perspective - does the philosophy suit his or her personality?
- What are the facilities of the school like - is the equipment new or in good condition?
- What is the teacher- Pupil ratio? In other words, will your child get the attention you want?
- Is it a pure Montessori school? See below for some pointers.
- Are the children well organised, engaged and happy in their work when you visit?
- Can your child spend a taster day at the school?
- What is the reporting system like - can you see samples of the sorts of reports you will receive?
- What sort of staff turnover s there? In other words, do staff enjoy working there so they do not leave?
- Where do children move on to when they leave the school and at what age do they tend to leave?
- When was the school last inspected by Ofsted/HMI and are there copies of the report available for you to read?
- Then start thinking about location, travelling times to and from schools and what the fees are like. Make sure you read the prospectus and visit the school before making any decisions.
The following are signs of a good Montessori school:
A beautiful, clean and ordered environment – obvious time taken to make things look as pleasing as possible.
A child-sized environment where as many objects and activities as possible are within the child’s reach.
Children of different ages working alongside each other.
Clearly defined areas within the school where materials are arranged in the following curriculum areas:
- practical life
- Creative activities
- Children having continual and free access to ranges of materials.
- A love of nature – tables and shelves displaying a range of natural items – maybe live school animals that the children watch over and care for.
- Predominantly calm children that are deeply involved in individual activities – but also the same children demonstrating dynamic energy and enthusiasm when involved in social and group activities.
- Difficult children being treated firmly but with loving respect by teachers.
Children watching over and helping other children.
- Children watching over and maintaining the order in the environment (putting things away and cleaning without adult involvement).
- Children obviously not always waiting to be told what to do.
- Children demonstrating a high level of confidence and independence.
- Children socialising easily and spontaneously with each other and the adults in the environment.
- Teachers that often seem to be standing back and simply observing the children.
Teachers that the children see as friends.
- A general atmosphere of fun and happiness.
- A lack of care taken over the environment.
- A noisy, chaotic environment.
- Materials left lying around.
- A lack of order being maintained in the environment.
- Aggressive, argumentative children.
- Distressed children left unattended.
- Evidence of children predominantly being taught in groups.
- Children waiting to be told what to do.
- Children being constantly corrected.
- Children being split into age groups.
- Children looking bored.
- Children waiting to have their work ‘checked’.
- A predominance of teacher control.
- Teachers always being interactive.
- Scheduled learning.
Our magazine, Montessori International contains many useful features both on Montessori education in general but also on how to select the right school for your child. Please follow the link here to either subscribe or to read more detailed articles. Our new DVD featuring Tana Ramsay also gives a good introduction to Montessori. Follow the link below to order a copy.