The state of California does not regulate Montessori schools in the same way that it regulates public schools. The public schools in the state have a long list of standards to meet, and they are required to prove that they are meeting those standards with how well students perform on standardized measurements. If a Montessori program is a licensed preschool then there are a few standards the teachers are required to meet by the state. Beyond those requirements, each Montessori program can decide the standards they want the teachers and students to meet. The good news is that the best Montessori programs have expectations that are far above the minimum standards that public programs are expected to reach.
Regulations the state of California imposes on Montessori schools
According to the California Department of Education (CDE), ‘private schools function outside the jurisdiction of the CDE and most state education regulations.’ However, many Montessori programs provide early education to students, and there is some state regulation when it comes to teaching at a licensed preschool. At Fountainhead Montessori School, students as young as 18 months can start the program. If a preschool is licensed in the state of California the teachers are required to get a minimum of twelve credit hours in early childhood education. Assistant teachers, as well as the lead instructors in the classroom, are required to take these courses.
Factors not impacted by state regulations
Beyond the early childhood education course requirements, the level of training Montessori teachers receive is up to the discretion of the individual program guidelines. Each Montessori program is unique, and many interpret what it means to be ‘Montessori’ in different ways. Because of this it is extremely important to consider the Montessori programs. The state of California does not regulate the training of the teachers or the development of the curriculum in the same way as it does for public schools. This fact is what draws many families to the idea of Montessori education. A well-designed Montessori program will meet the needs of the individual child. Students are allowed to move more rapidly than others if they master a subject quickly or slow down to fully master a concept they find difficult. In the public classroom, teachers have to pace their instruction to ensure that they cover everything the state requires regardless of how each student is doing. This model can hold advanced students back from making progress and often leaves students who are struggling behind. The freedom from excessive regulations that Montessori programs enjoy allows for the flexibility to meet the needs of the individual student.
The lack of state regulations for private schools means that you need to take an in-depth look at any program you are considering for your child. A top-notch Montessori program will challenge your child and provide him or her with an education that far exceeds the minimum expectations set forth for education by the state. However, the lack of regulations can also mean that there may be programs that exist with subpar academic standards. The key to finding a Montessori program that meets your standards is to research your options carefully and spend some time on any campus you have decided a possibility.