Are you ready to start the preschool search process? If this is your first time exploring early childhood environments, take a look at the questions to ask before you select a school.
What Educational Philosophy Is the Right Choice?
Not all preschools are alike. Each school is built on a philosophical foundation. While some schools are traditional or general learning environments, others have specific educational methodologies at the root of instruction, learning, and curricular practices. The philosophy will guide the educator's decisions and impact each activity or lesson in the pre-k classroom.
Montessori is one of the most popular philosophy-based educational programs in the United States. According to the National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector, America is home to 5,000-plus Montessori schools. Based on the research of Dr. Maria Montessori, this philosophy features hands-on, self-paced, child-directed learning instead of copycat-like teacher-led instruction.
An educational philosophy choice depends on several factors, including your child's needs and your family's values. If you want your child to learn and grow in a caring environment that fosters independence, exploration, and self-discovery, Montessori is an option to seriously explore. To learn more about this philosophy, ask your child's potential future school for research and general information.
What Does Your Child Need in an Educational Environment?
The educational philosophy guides the overall instruction and curriculum. After you explore general educational philosophies, you need to learn more about the specific classroom settings. If Montessori pre-k is your top option, you should expect to see early childhood classrooms with plenty of specialized materials and not the typical toys in traditional pre-k schools.
Montessori materials are only used in this type of educational environment and may include items such as the Pink Tower (a series of 10 wooden cubes in graduated sizes), sandpaper letters, number rods, spindle boxes, and sound cylinders.
Along with these materials, preschoolers may also use real-world items, such as a microscope for science explorations or instruments for musical activities. The materials are kept in easily accessible spaces. This allows the children to choose which items they want to explore during work periods.
If your child learns through their senses and enjoys using real items (versus play or pretend/fake toys), Montessori is an ideal educational environment. To better understand the Montessori early childhood classroom, schedule a visit to your local school. A pre-k tour provides time to see the materials in action and decide whether this is the right school setting for your child.