What to look for when thinking about Montessori education for your child
Many factors 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 it from your child’s perspective – does the philosophy in the setting suit their personality?
- Consider the school from your family perspective – are the schools values and principles aligned with your own?
- What are the facilities of the school like – is the room spacious and 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 their own learning? Do the staff have Montessori qualifications?
- During your visit, are the children engaged and interested in their activities? Is the atmosphere harmonious and happy?
- Explore the relationship the setting has with parents – are there regular newsletters, opportunities to observe your child, 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 you 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)
- What about the location? Look at travelling times to and from the school. Make sure you read the prospectus and enrolment information, as well as visit the school before making any decisions.
The following are signs of a good Montessori school:
The learning environment inside and out is:
- Beautiful, clean and ordered – obvious care was taken to make things look as pleasing as possible.
- Has 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 unstructured work time, where they are free to choose what to work on.
- Deeply involved in individual activities, as well as 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
- 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
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.