Your preschool age child is growing by leaps and bounds, not just physically but in every area of life. Choosing the best, balanced educational and social experiences right now can help your son or daughter excel as they go through school and life.
For most parents, this raises some common questions:
- Which is better for my child—a traditional day care or preschool program, or a Montessori school?
- Is there a significant difference between the two options?
- And how can I know which one will help my child to excel?
At Primary Montessori, we believe your child deserves an enriching, positive, empowering educational experience that brings out the best in them, on a schedule that is convenient for you no matter how busy and active your life may be. We love the Montessori approach for the way it supports your child’s development in ways that traditional day care may not be able to offer.
As you consider your choices for educational programs in which to place your son or daughter, evaluate these essential criteria that can help your child get the most out of their education.
How much training and experience do the teachers have?
Many day care programs are overwhelmed by too many children and overseen by too few staff. And depending on the legal requirements where you live, day care providers may not need special certifications. While they may love children, those providers often have only minimal educational training. They may lack experience in providing a stable and satisfying educational and social experience.
By contrast, an authentic Montessori school requires all teaching staff to be certified through well-respected and vetted Montessori educational programs. At Primary Montessori, all of our teachers have AMS, AMI, or MACTE approved post-graduate certification in the Montessori method, ensuring that all of our students receive a full, rich experience at our school.
Is the classroom environment calm and orderly, or messy and chaotic?
Children excel in environments that allow them to explore within reasonable, clear boundaries. The combination of freedom and clear boundaries allows a child to feel safe and cared for as they explore and learn.
Because many day care programs do not require teachers to be certified or trained, and because they are often understaffed, the atmosphere can be noisy and stressful. It can hinder your child from learning.
Montessori environments, by contrast, are intentionally calm and orderly. A serene setting empowers students as they learn to focus and engage joyfully in activities, without interruption. There are scheduled times for group work, working with a partner, or even individually, but the children are always free to mill about, ask questions, and socialize as they work. This creates a striking balance of a calm and orderly environment, yet the freedom they need to learn and grow both socially, academically, and even in leadership.
Is the classroom focused on the child, or on the teacher?
A hallmark of authentic Montessori education is that the instructors act as coaches, allowing children to choose their own activities and explore their interests at their own pace. This means that while a few activities may be scheduled, such as lunchtime, there are also many opportunities for your child to choose what he or she will spend time doing.
This allows your child to learn self-discipline, while also exploring their innate passions. And it also allows for more one-on-one learning, which is beneficial to children.
Day care programs rarely offer child-led activities. Instead, most or all of the day’s activities will be directed by the teacher. The entire class of students is expected to do the same thing at the same time. While this may make life easier for the teacher, it can be detrimental to the children because those who need more time for an activity won’t have it, while students who finish early will have to wait for everyone else to catch up.
Is the program deliberate and intentional, fostering learning, or is it essentially all-day play?
A time of play and fun is essential in every child’s day, but a time for learning and exploration of the environment for intellectual growth is essential too. Even toddlers benefit from a mixture of imaginative playtime, coupled with more structured opportunities to discover and learn about the world.
If not well structured, day care programs may not provide ample opportunities for exploration and discovery that captivate children and equip them to love learning. And if the teachers of a day care program are not properly trained in childhood education, they may simply not be equipped to plan educational experiences that engage your child.
This is an area where the certification and training required of Montessori educators can make all the difference in the world. Montessori teachers are experienced in how to engage young children in the process of learning and discovery. Everything from recognizing letters and putting together puzzles to manipulating objects to build eye-hand coordination happens in a Montessori classroom. Your child definitely won’t be bored!
Are students learning self-discipline, grace, and courtesy?
Another advantage of the Montessori approach is that it focuses on helping children to develop self-control. This is an essential skill both for their own learning experiences in the future, as well as how successfully they can interact with others.
In a Montessori classroom, there are clear rules that encourage a calm, courteous, respectful atmosphere for everyone. Children are taught considerate ways to communicate their needs. Teachers model polite, kind behavior by greeting each student at the door and demonstrating positive interactions with others. Alternatives are presented to help your child learn to think about and make good choices.
In day care programs, teachers and parents often take the approach that poor or unkind behavior is to be expected from toddlers. As a result, children may not be taught or encouraged to behave in more disciplined and respectful ways. Discipline may be handled strictly by giving rewards and punishments, which doesn’t support the development of self-control.
See the Montessori Difference for Yourself
Ultimately, you want the preschool program you choose to provide a supportive, nurturing environment in which your son or daughter can learn and grow. And it helps to see for yourself how a Montessori approach can benefit your child.
We would love to give you a tour of our school anytime so that you can see and experience in person how well children do in our Montessori preschool program. Our enriching educational opportunities are provided with a choice of convenient scheduling options that our active parents find appealing and easy to fit into their daily activities.
Contact us anytime to learn about our extended hours, or to schedule a tour—and see for yourself the advantages a Montessori education can offer your son or daughter.