Montessori Schools For School-Age Kids
Montessori, a type of school based on the child development research of Dr. Maria Montessori, can be public, charter, or private, but they should be affiliated with one of the national organizations such as The Montessori Foundation or The American Montessori Society, says Tim Seldin, president of The Montessori Foundation, chairman of the International Montessori Council, and author of How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way.
What Makes It Montessori?
Here are some characteristics that distinguish a Montessori school from other types of schools:
- Enrollment is available from birth and up to 12th grade.
- Class sizes are larger, between 25 and 30 children, except in the cases of infants and toddlers where classes are smaller (around 8 children).
- Classes generally are overseen by one accredited Montessori teacher and two teaching assistants. The class focuses on student learning, not teachers teaching.
- There is a three-year grade span among children in a class (for example, K-3 would be one class).
- Children learn at their own pace -- there are no grades, no comparing children. The goal is to make the Montessori environment noncompetitive.
- Children have the freedom to choose their learning activities instead of having it imposed on them by a teacher.
- Children take responsibility and clean up after themselves.
- Students are treated with respect. "A 3-year-old is treated like a 35-year -old with a master's degree," Seldin says.
- Children work in small groups, and rather than get group instruction, they often choose what they will learn themselves.
- There are no standardized test scores, adult expectations, or politics.
- Children work on skills for weeks or months until they master the material well enough that they can teach it to the younger children in the class.
Is It Right for Your Child?
A Montessori school could be a good choice for a child who:
- is mature enough to handle the personal and peer responsibility of an unstructured, self-directed learning environment
- would welcome lots of opportunities to explore educational materials and manipulatives
- would benefit from three different grades in one classroom
Tuition is about $7,000 year. For more information, log onto the Montessori Foundation Web site.