Entrusting your child and their well-being to an academic institution is a big deal, so it’s important that both you and your child feel comfortable with the Montessori program that you choose. It should be like your child’s home away from home—a place that they look forward to attending each day.
There are plenty of Montessori programs in Austin, but you want one that is a perfect fit—one that checks all the boxes. But what boxes should it check?
Not every school is created equal, and there are plenty of factors to keep in mind when you’re choosing a place to enroll your child. With Montessori schools, there’s even more to consider than there is with traditional schools—and the decision process can be somewhat overwhelming. Every Montessori school is different: each school owner has the right to interpret Maria Montessori’s philosophy in their own way. In order to see if the school works for your family, you should have a good idea of the school’s interpretation.
Start with a simple Google search to find Montessori schools near you in the Austin area, then narrow that list down to about five schools through the process of checking online reviews and calling to see if there’s space for your child. Once you’ve narrowed down the list, you can implement these tips to make the final decision.
Tip #1—Visit the Schools
It’s important to tour the schools that you’re considering in order to get a feel of the establishment—and don’t forget to take a look at the playground! When you’re touring the building, make a note of its cleanliness, the condition of the building itself (both interior and exterior), and its general upkeep. A quality Montessori school should be visually appealing with safe and child-appropriate playground equipment.
Tip #2—Learn More about the Philosophy
As we said before, every Montessori school owner interprets Maria Montessori’s philosophy in their own way. To see how a particular school interprets it, ask the school administrator how they deal with behavioral problems, whether they have religious foundations, and what their take is on how children learn and develop.
Make sure that they follow authentic Montessori practices such as a three-year classroom age range, independent learning, and child-friendly classroom setups. Before you settle on a school, make sure that their views are similar to your own—this way, you won’t continually butt heads.
Observation is a major component of the Montessori method, and it comes into play before you even enroll your child in the school. When you’re on the tour, it’s likely that an administrator will show you what a classroom looks like while school is in session, and you should ask yourself a few key questions during that time:
- Do the children seem comfortable in the classroom?
- How do the teachers interact with the children?
- Are any children being excluded?
- What is the teacher’s tone of voice like?
- How do the children interact with one another?
A successful Montessori classroom will show children moving around freely and confidently, engaged in their work while a quiet buzz of conversation occurs. The teachers should be engaged with the children in a positive and respectful way—but without interfering with their work.
Tip #4—Ask about Teacher Turnover Rates
If an establishment can keep their teachers on board for over two years, they’re doing something right. Turnover is common in the childcare industry for a number of reasons, so if teachers are staying at a particular school for an extended amount of time, they are probably being supported and treated properly. A teacher who is being treated the right way will put their best foot forward in the classroom at all times.
Stability and consistency are important in a Montessori setting, especially with the three-year stay in a single classroom, so teacher longevity is valued.
Tip #5—Ask Around
Word of mouth is the best way to get an authentic view of the school. Ask friends, neighbors, and colleagues where they send their children—and if they send their children to the school that you’re considering in Austin, ask them how they like it and what their experience has been.
Tour Our School
If you’re interested in touring our school, Austin Children’s Academy invites you to meet our staff, talk to parents of current students, and tour our campus during an open house or a scheduled tour.
We put our focus and care into every single one of our students and pride ourselves in the shining reputation we keep in Austin. To schedule a tour, call our admissions office at (512) 331-2075.