A Mother Taking Her Child to School for the First Time

How to Choose the Right Montessori School for Your Child

‘Montessori’ sounds familiar to parents nowadays. The easy access to information in the digital era exposes knowledge about Montessori among the parents of early childhood. Regardless of the correct understanding of Montessori or not, Montessori has a positive impression in the eyes of parents and educators. Therefore, Montessori education now becomes one of the considerations in determining education for their children.

There are so many Montessori schools opening and expanding in Indonesia. However, in reality not all Montessori schools implement the true Montessori philosophy. The existence of Montessori elements such as learning materials does not necessarily guarantee that the school has authentic Montessori philosophy. So, how do you choose the right Montessori school?

The School & Teacher 

Teacher with Montessori Education Background

The teacher’s role in Montessori education is as a facilitator or guide. However, that doesn’t mean that everyone with an education degree can become a qualified Montessori teacher. Authentic Montessori schools have teachers who have received Montessori education and training. Why? Montessori education has a deep philosophy in creating the curriculum based on child development. Dr. Maria Montessori also carefully crafted learning materials with specific purposes and instructions for use. Without clear Montessori education and training, the learning process can be misled and lose its purpose.

Positive Interaction of All School Members

In a Montessori environment, children do not only learn with teachers in the classroom. All interactions within the school community – between children, teachers, principals and staff-  train their social skills. Therefore, not only teachers, other staff at the school also display grace and courtesy to promote respectful interactions with each other.

A Montessori Teacher Showing a Montessori Class

The Classroom

Spacious, Structured and Aesthetic Room

The size of a Montessori classroom must be sufficient to accommodate children’s movement to walk, move and work. Every child has the right to use a work mat on the floor so limited space certainly can be a barrier. Each material also has its own allocated place and is always in a structured condition. Beauty of the Montessori class has a calming effect that allows the right amount of stimulation – children will not be overstimulated by too many colors, posters, decorations. Natural lighting in classrooms is another top priority. Montessori schools usually also have mini gardens and spots for taking care of plants and pets. 

Classes with Various Ages (Mixed-age Classroom)

If you visit the ‘Montessori’ school and they group children according to their age in one class, then this school is not an authentic Montessori school. The main characteristic of Montessori classes is the grouping of children in three-year spans. Children were grouped according to the following ages: 3-6 years, 6-9 years and 9-12 years. In this environment, there is a dynamic interaction among the children because the teacher is not the center. Younger children learn naturally by observing older children. Instead, older children benefit by deepening their understanding with repetition and practicing leadership skills.

Uninterrupted Work Cycle

In traditional school, children always have a daily and hourly lesson schedule with limited duration for each activity. However, in Montessori school, children have long work periods with  sufficient time to develop interest, focus and concentration that is not disrupted during work. This work cycle usually ranges from 2.5-3 hours for children up to 3 years old.

“The mind takes some time to develop interest, to be set in motion, to get warmed up into a subject, to attain a state of profitable work. If at this time there is interruption, not only is a period of profitable work lost, but the interruption produces an unpleasant sensation which is identical to fatigue.”

 -Dr. Maria Montessori, What You Should Know About Your Child

Children Learning with Montessori Materials in a Montessori Class

The Material 

Complete Montessori Material 

Many schools use the word “Montessori” to attract attention when there are only a few materials available in the classroom. An authentic Montessori school has a complete scope and sequence of Montessori materials and is neatly arranged per area referring to the principle: “from simple to complex and concrete to abstract”.

Arts, Crafts and Music Activity Materials

Montessori schools provide exploration opportunities for children to use tools and materials for Arts, Crafts and Music activities. For example, by providing trays containing Arts and Crafts activities with certain themes on open shelves that can be accessed easily, children can develop a love of Art as early as possible.

The Child 

Freedom with Limitations

Children have the freedom to move within limits. Dynamic scenes where different children are standing, sitting, walking, using the whole body to move and work are normal in Montessori schools. Manners and respect for oneself, others and the environment are part of this freedom.

No Rewards or Punishments

There are no star stickers or punishment corners to change a child’s behavior. There are no bribes or excessive praise heard in the interactions between children and teachers. Montessori schools believe that children have intrinsic motivation to do things without having to get external validation. In other situations when children break rules or are unable to manage their emotions, emotional validation and guidance to regulate their emotions is what they need, not punishment.

No Exams and Homework

Authentic Montessori schools do not give children tests and homework. Written exams and worksheets commonly generalize children’s learning processes, which are actually different and dynamic. This is contrary to Montessori principles which prioritize children’s individual and unique learning. Children in Montessori schools also do not bring mandatory homework because Montessori believes that children need other beneficial activities outside school such as playing, exercising and exploring nature.

Conclusion

There are many Montessori schools but not all Montessori schools truly apply Montessori philosophy and principles. Like a lifestyle, Montessori is not just a curriculum but a soul that then alters all aspects. Therefore, if you want to choose the right Montessori school for your child, always observe thoroughly all aspects of the school, teachers, classes, materials and how children are treated there. We want to give the best education for our children

FAQ

Maria Montessori views children as independent, competent, and full of curiosity. She believes that children have extraordinary potential for learning and development through self-directed processes. The role of adults is to support and guide children in their learning process, rather than directly dictating them.

The Montessori education model is centered around the child. Children are given the freedom to choose the material that they want to work with. Teachers act as facilitators, providing a safe and structured learning environment filled with engaging Montessori materials.

In general, Montessori schools have programs for Early Childhood (2.5-6 years). However, there are also programs for Infant & Toddlers (0-3 years) and Elementary schools (6-12 years). Keep in mind that the ideal age to start a Montessori school varies for each child. Parents should consider their child’s readiness before deciding to enroll them in a Montessori school.

Montessori Diploma 3-6 Years Online Course
Montessori Lower Elementary 6-9 Years Certificate Course
Montessori Certificate 3-6 Years Online Course
Short Certificate Courses 2-6 Years for Parents and Educators