Choosing Montessori School for our Toddler

My husband and I decided a while ago that we were strongly going to consider putting Lucas in a Montessori School. Whenever that time came, be it when he was 20 months or 3 years old, Montessori style teaching and learning, and the environment it has is something we see fit for our children and our family.

Of course, we are still fairly new to the idea of Montessori method as we have never had a child specifically use it before. However, form what I’ve read, seen and heard, it sounds like a perfect method and aligns with many of the things that we believe in.
We toured a few Montessori Schools in our town and found one that we loved. I wish I could have taken a picture- the classrooms are so neat and beautiful. They are calm and inviting. The toddler room has several plants in it, a couple tanks with different animals, numerous stations, small tables and chairs, a small toilet and sink, and even a place where children wash their dishes after snack. A large play area out front with balls and slides and a place to run around. And get this- they go outside until it reaches 5 degrees! And in Oregon they cancel schools if it’s snows .5 inches….
(I’m not kidding about either of those things. You have to dress properly with good clothing and you’re fine- the cold won’t hurt you, even if you’re a toddler. And yes, Oregon is known to cancel schools if it snows a small fraction because they are scared to drive in it. Alaska also cancels recess if it rains… but will let children play in 5 degree weather. Not.Kidding.)

While getting a tour of a potential Montessori School, the director gave us a great example of what the Montessori method is like. Twice a week a women comes in to speak spanish to the kids. The children (of any age) are not required to come and sit with her on the rug. They are not forcing spanish. If a child is, for example, in the middle of creating a tower with blocks, it is best for the child to continue doing that. The Montessori method does not disrupt that, if a child is invested in something he or she is doing. Chances are, the child will come and sit on the rug and listen to spanish when he wants to and needs to, thus when he is ready and wanting to learn. And the director said that most, if not all children DO come to the rug and listen to spanish because it looks interesting and inviting and they are not forced to do it.
One of the goals of Montessori is to foster the love of learning. There is no strict curriculum. Generally children are not assigned specific task with specific groups. For example, in a traditional school at 11:00am math time might begin with group B. In Montessori, children are able to choose which activity they play/work with and if they work alone or with a group. Children are free to work at their own pace rather than stop an activity and move to a next because it’s “math time.” Children are encouraged to discover and lean on their own.
I certainly don’t think traditional schools are bad at all. They are just different, both with pros and cons I’m sure. And, I know at some point our children will be in a traditional school, and we are absolutely totally fine with that. Traditional schools are great too! Just different.
For now, I think Montessori is the way we’re headed. Lucas is still very young, so “school” isn’t needed at this point. Day care isn’t needed either as I have no plans of working full time once our 2nd is born this Fall. However, there are still several reasons why we’ve considered (and most likely will) put Lucas in a Montessori School this winter.
He will be almost two years old when he starts, and we will most likely do two days a week- each half a day, 3 hours in length. We are currently on the waiting list, but I imagine that we will have no problem getting him enrolled since we’re not looking to start for quite a while.

Benefits we see:
  • Interaction and play with other children is important. Lucas (and any child) needs to be around other children his age…. sometimes without Mama. He needs to have social opportunities and room to grow.
  • A place to have FUN!
  • A place to LEARN!
  • Baby and mama alone time while Lucas is at school.
I think it will be a great thing, and if not, we will take Lucas out no problem. It’s a good idea to test it out though and see if it’s something we like and something that will work well for our family. Who knows what will happen!
Do you have any experience with Montessori Schools? What do you like- or not like- about them?

Published by Samantha Mellen

Certified personal trainer & health coach helping women transform their lives through fitness, abundant mindset coaching and internal peace. Mom of two boys, living life in Alaska.

19 thoughts on “Choosing Montessori School for our Toddler

  1. I don't have any experience with the Montessori environment, but it sounds wonderful! We have plans to homeschool our children, and we arrived at that decision after considering the schools in the area. There isn't a Montessori school here, but from what I've read it would be a definite second choice for us. We are choosing to homeschool for many of the same reasons that you seem to be choosing the Montessori environment. I feel like the single most important thing in learning is wanting to learn, and I love that the Montessori schools encourage that!

  2. This sounds like an amazing alternative to a traditional daycare for Lucas. I've always wondered what a Montessori truly is. This post has actually inspired me to look into the local Montessori school as a possibility, in place of a traditional “kids day out” that I wanted to put B in next year. Thanks for sharing the info!

  3. I've heard wonderful things about Montessori! We don't have one in our town but my two nephews go to one as their full time “day care” (ages 4 and 2) The only “negative” I've ever heard from them is that at their school they don't have a “nap time” perse and that the kids only get to lay down and try to rest if the children themselves ask to do so. This was REALLY hard on the little ones for the first couple months and finally the parents insisted their boys were asked to lay down and rest etc. and given a quiet time. They seem much more functional now. Obviously not an issue for Lucas going 2 or 3 hours a day though! Hope he likes it! Sounds fun!

  4. That sounds great. I've heard wonderful things about the Montessori program, so I just did a quick search in my area. The one thing I noticed is that it's pretty expensive! Granted, I get to stay home with my 20 mo. old, so I am ignorant of daycare prices, but 4000/year seems like a lot. I would love to be able to let my daughter go to a Montessori school someday. What age does the school in your area start taking kids?

  5. Stacy-
    I have several in my area (the advantage to living in a bigger town I guess) but most of them start around 18 months- some not even until 2 years. It IS expensive! That is the bummer part 😦 but I think any good education is worth it. It also depends of course how many days a week you go.

  6. Hi there πŸ™‚ To start, I want to share that I'm so glad I stumbled on your blog a while ago. I love reading your stories and seeing your pictures of Lucas. I have a barely 2 year old and a new born so I feel like we're on similar pages. πŸ™‚
    As for Montessori, Ford is at a Montessori school 3 days/week in the summer and 5 days/week during the school year (I teach.) I LOVE his Montessori school. As part of the idea to create a real world for them (the small sink, toilet, low light switches, etc.), they teach them to drink from cups and eat off of plates from the infant room on up. I love that! All the colors are calm and neutral, lots of wood, etc. In contrast to Alaska weather, they go outside here in super-hot and humid Houston even when the weather is in the high 90s and 99% humidity. In the temperate weather, they're outside 3-4 hours/day… a little less when it's so hot. They regularly change the “work” (toys/manipulatives) in the room b/c they don't leave too much out at a time. I could go on and on, but wanted to add my 2 Montessori-loving cents. πŸ™‚

  7. My cousin owns a Montessori School, which I went to for daycare through kindergarten and my younger brother stayed all the way through 5th grade. I couldn't say enough great things about Montessori- I'm thrilled you're thinking about sending Lucas there! I have such awesome memories from my time there. I don't know if we'll be sending Tommy to any sort of preschool, but if we do Montessori is at the top of my list!

    If you have any other questions about Montessori feel free to shoot me an e-mail!

  8. I think you'll love it! we just put our 18mo old son in preschool/camp for the summer (he will be in preschool this fall) for 3 days a week from 9-3pm and he is having a blast! they do arts & crafts, have play time, and people come in to do programs with them like creative movement, gymnastics, etc. they also put on shows for the kids each week. he has already brought home 2 art projects and it's so much fun!! They also let kids that age nap for up to 2 hours during the day which is perfect for his schedule. He has a great time and I feel that he is very safe there. Plus I am able to get things done. It is a wonderful experience.

  9. the only thing that stuck out to me was that you wrote 11pm for math time…i hope your school isnt open that late…haha. anyway. soundsfun i'll have to look in to that for my son, he just turn 2

  10. I've looked into Montessori a bit even though I knew we won't be able to afford it. There are many aspects of it that I love…but one thing I struggle with. From Montessori parents and teachers that I have talked to, I have gathered, that there is not a very big emphasis on children using their imaginations. In this regard, I would prefer Waldorf style where imagination is a huge part of their education. Good luck!

  11. I wanted to note that children really do no NEED to be around other children their own age to be in a natural environment. When in the real world are we in a room full of adults of our exact age? Social interaction can be achieved in a group of any age combination. And also, in trying to achieve a “real” environment, why would children be given small toilets and small sinks, etc.? In their real world, they will not be given such luxuries. In fact, I am very tall and I don't go to Walmart and have a special larger toilet provided for me! πŸ™‚ Despite what it may seem I'm not trying to be critical. I am simply trying to point out that sometimes we try too hard in trying to educate and expose our children. Sometimes leaving them in their own natural world (instead of trying to create a natural world for them) is the best route.

  12. I was fortunete enough to be able to work at a Montessori school for a summer (I was a school therapist before I became a SAHM and had the summers off) – it was so amazing that as soon as my kiddos are in school I'll be right there behind them going to a Montessori teaching school to get my credentials. The more you learn about Montessorit the more incredible it gets, there is a reason for EVERYTHING and it all makes so much sense. The children so thrive in that environment, and it is beautiful to watch them blossom and grow.

  13. I commented a bit about my family's experience with Montessori before and want to add a few points. You did a nice job of explaining the premise of Montessori schools. Parents at most schools are encouraged to extend the philosophy to their homes. Because of that, many of the families have like-minded ways of parenting and the bonds between families become very tight. I don't know how close the communities of other pre-schools are, but we have life-long friends from Jacob's school. One more benefit you may not have thought of!

    Additionally, if you or your readers are interested in things you can do at home you should check out the Montesorri Services catalog which has great products and informative books. This was our primary source of “toys” for many years. Especially loved the kitchen and garding supplies.
    http://www.forsmallhands.com/store/?m2k_medium=adwords_brand&gclid=COnMhf2IwqICFRGkiQoduHaC5A

    Oh, and for more information about how it all started, I suggest finding a book about Maria Montesorri at your library. Her story is absolutely amazing.

  14. I don't even know if there is a Montessori school near us. I just heard about it through the mom blogs I read and now I am really drawn to it!

    Thank you for this informative post. I have got to learn more and see if there is one around here. (Since I live in the boondocks of Kansas I doubt there is)

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