Is A Montessori Child Care Center Right For You?

When looking at different types of child care centers, many parents feel overwhelmed. You might wonder whether a particular type of center is the right style for you and your family. Montessori is one type of education that appeals to some parents of little ones. Named after the Italian pediatrician, Maria Montessori, this type of education is known for fostering a sense of responsibility and encouraging creativity in its young scholars. Here are some considerations to keep in mind when deciding whether this style of child care center is right for your toddler or preschooler. 

Do You Agree With a Child-Led Approach?

One hallmark of Montessori education is that each child is ultimately in charge of what he or she is learning and in what order tasks are done. For parents who would like to continue a child-led education during the preschool and early elementary years, this might be the perfect type of child care center. Children who are allowed to follow their interests often focus on a few narrow topics, and they can become quite knowledgeable about those subjects.

Parents who plan to transition their children to a traditional preschool, which is often teacher-led, might feel less comfortable with the Montessori method and might look for a child care center that focuses on another type of education, such as the teacher-led Waldorf method.

Is Testing or Grading Important to You?

While toddlers do not typically receive grades at child care centers, some more traditional types of centers do perform testing on preschoolers. If you are hoping for this type of assessment, you might find that a Montessori child care center isn't providing this service.

In fact, a true Montessori approach involves no testing or grading, particularly for young children. Instead, children are observed carefully and, in many cases, the teacher will prepare a portfolio or other type of assessment. Many parents end up finding these assessments valuable, but some need to adjust their expectations as far as grading is concerned.

Are You Willing to Limit Television, Internet and Other Forms of Electronic Media?

One feature of a Montessori education is that parents are encouraged to place limits on the amount and type of media that their children are exposed to. While not as strict as the aforementioned Waldorf methodology, Montessori education depends on children using their imaginations, not copying stories that they have seen on television or the World Wide Web. If your family watches a lot of videos or television programs (even educational children's programs), it's possible that a different type of child care center would be a better fit.

On the other hand, if you already limit time on electronics, this might not be a problem at all for your family, and you might enjoy knowing that your child will not be watching a lot of television while at his or her child care center.

Are You Flexible About the Montessori Methodology?

One consideration to keep in mind is that the Montessori methods are not trademarked or otherwise official. While some Montessori schools follow Maria Montessori's teachings closely, others only adhere to a few of her ideals and are not very much different than traditional child care centers. It's a good idea to stop in to the center that you are considering and ask questions to determine how closely the facility sticks to the ideals of the Montessori method.

Choosing a child care center for your little one is a personal and serious decision. Take the time you need to evaluate different methodologies so you can make the choice that is right for you and your family. Don't be afraid to ask questions that will help you weigh all of your options and make an educated decision.