What parents should look for when considering Montessori education for their children.

Many factors will 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 setting.

  • Consider the provision from your child’s perspective – does the philosophy suit his or her personality?
  • Consider the ethos of the school from your family perspective – are the school s values and principles aligned with your own?
  • What are the facilities of the school like – is the room spacious/ light / is there access to the outside?
  • What is the teacher/pupil ratio? In other words, will your child get the attention he/she may need?
  • Is it a genuine Montessori setting where the child will be respected and trusted to lead his/her learning?   See the criteria for accreditation of a Montessori setting committed to on-going improvement in their work with children.
  • During your visit, are the children calm, engaged and interested in their activities/work? Is the atmosphere harmonious, industrious and happy?
  • Can your child spend a taster day at the school?
  • Explore the setting s partnership with parents are there regular newsletters, opportunities to observe your child, are there regular parent/teacher or key person conferences, will you receive written reports about your child’s progress and how often?
  • Where do children move on to when they leave the school and at what age do they tend to leave?
  • Before the visit check the Ofsted website for a report of the school; see if the school has been accredited by a Montessori accreditation scheme, such as MEAB  which encourages an on-going commitment to improvement and high quality practice.  
  • Then start thinking about location, travelling times to and from schools and what the fees are like. Make sure you read the prospectus and the terms and conditions of enrolment, and visit the school before making any decisions.

The following are signs of a good Montessori school:

(click each to reveal the answer)

The learning environment inside and outside is...

  • beautiful, clean and ordered – obvious care was taken to make things look as pleasing as possible.
  • where as many objects and activities as possible are within the child’s reach.
  • offers evidence of love of nature with fresh flowers, plants and sometimes an animal, as well as interest tables reflecting nature walks and expeditions in which the children participated
  • children of different ages are working alongside each other, watching over and helping each other. They are interacting easily and spontaneously with each other and the adults in the environment.

The children are...

  • having continual and free access to ranges of materials.
  • calm and deeply involved in individual activities but also the same children are demonstrating dynamic energy and enthusiasm when involved in social and group activities.
  • maintaining the order in the environment, putting things away and cleaning without adult involvement
  • demonstrating a high level of confidence, independence and concentration. not waiting to be told what to do.

The teachers are...

  • treat all children with love and respect
  • care for the environment
  • observe the children and note their activities
  • work well as a team
  • have a positive attitude to each other and value parents as first educators of the child.

The classroom is organised into the following areas of learning:

  • practical life / activities of everyday living
  • sensorial education
  • communications, literacy area and a well stocked and comfortable book area
  • numeracy and mathematics
  • knowledge and understanding of the world are sometimes also referred to as the cultural area where children explore nature, learn about the Earth, its many cultures and their special celebrations, and are encouraged to live peacefully on our planet
  • an area where children have opportunities to engage in arts and crafts activities, music and dancing
  • the outdoor area, often referred to as the Outdoor Classroom, is an integral part of the leaning environment, offering a wide range of activities from across the whole curriculum.

How does the Montessori early years curriculum meet the requirements of the regulatory framework as set out in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) (DfE 2014)?

The principles which underpin both approaches focus on the child, the learning environment and the relationships within it in promoting children’s learning and development. The synergy in the principles ensures that Montessori early years education works well alongside the EYFS without losing its key focus on following the child. To find out more see The Guide to the EYFS.

Our magazine, Montessori International contains many useful features both on Montessori education. Please follow the link here to either subscribe or to read more detailed articles: Montessori Magazine

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