Last week, I visited a Montessori school with pre-school. I've always been interested in the Montessori method, and Londo and I have talked about Montessori schools and pre-schools since before we started trying to have kids.
As I've looked into it recently, I've discovered a few things I didn't know realize would be important when finding a Montessori school. First, since the term Montessori isn't copyrighted or anything like that, anyone can stick the label Montessori on what they do, so you have to be sure that the school you are considering meets your expectations. Second, some of the schools can seem like they are full of Stepford children, which is not what we want for the Pumpkin. A coworker of mine visited one school and said it was like they were Borg children, all mindlessly complying. Third, schools can get accredited, but if I understand correctly, there are two different schools of thought: the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) and the American Montessori Society (AMS). I believe the AMS school of thought is a little more creative, and I think those that are Stepford-ish are probably AMI which is more structured. But I've learned all this second hand, so please take this information with a grain of salt and educate me if I'm not right.
So I realized that it is important to visit the school you are considering and see if it is right for your child. As I said, I visited a Montessori school with pre-school last week. I LOVED this school! This was what I had in mind when I thought of Montessori. The kids were doing different activities in different areas of the room, some doing puzzles together while another child painted on the easle by himself. The teachers and assistants were engaged and interested in what the kids were doing. The environment for 2 year olds (who are not groups with the 3-6 year olds because of the different needs and capabilities that they have at 2) was very much like a big playroom at home, with lamps and rugs and kid-sized tables, chairs, sinks, cubbies, etc.
The kids weren't all happy little automatons, either. In one room, the kids were doing songs while sitting in a circle, but one or two were jumping up and running around. The teacher was watching them, but not impatient or wanting to control them. Letting kids be kids. In another room, two kids just got dropped off and were crying, but the director explained that they would be drawn into the activities soon and that the separation tears didn't last for long. The director answered my questions and other visitors' questions with thoughtful and caring answers, answers I liked hearing.
Most importantly, I could see the Pumpkin in one of those rooms and really loving it. I'm sold on the school, and don't even want to look for another. Unfortunately, they can't take her until the fall after she is 2, over a year from now. We are still working on a solution for the change we need to make in our childcare situation. While it's great I love this school, I still have to look at other solutions that can happen in the next month or two. And we still haven't address how on earth we'd be able to afford the Montessori school--or a nanny, for that matter. At the very least, I will now work towards having a "Montessori Home" in our house, thanks to the information a person online who I highly respect sent to me.
This evening, we meet with a financial planner to see get a fresh perspective on our finances and see if there is some way to afford what we ideally want for the Pumpkin. Wish us luck!