You will learn a lot about the design of Montessori educational programs when you tour a school and observe a classroom. Seeing how the school and classroom operate with your own eyes will provide you with insight that you cannot get from simply reading about Montessori education. Before you go on your scheduled campus tour, take some time to consider what questions you want to ask. The three questions listed below are a good place to start. You can compare the answers you get at the programs you tour to determine how closely they adhere to the Montessori philosophy of education.
How is the time in the classroom structured?
There will be some variation between programs regarding how the time in the classroom is structured. This question is not about the order of operations but rather about what is included during classroom time. In a traditional public school setting, students often spend the majority of their time sitting at a desk. In contrast, students in a Montessori classroom engage in a variety of activities that involve moving around and working at stations. The time in the Montessori classroom may include circle time, small group activities, and independent work. Asking about how the time is structured in the classroom during your tour will help you understand what to expect for your child on a day to day basis.
What is the philosophy behind the design of the program?
The philosophy of the Montessori Method sets it apart from other types of education. Montessori education is designed to meet the needs of the students in the classroom and help them develop tools that are necessary for success in life outside of the classroom. A top-notch Montessori program will be designed with these two factors in mind. You will be able to see evidence of the philosophy behind the program in the way the classrooms and curriculum are designed. As you take a tour and observe a classroom, ask for an explanation about anything that grabs your attention or raises questions. The answers that you get about the design of the program will help you get a grasp on the philosophy that the school espouses.
How is it different from public school?
If you have any experience with the public school, you will be able to notice the surface-level differences between Montessori education and the public immediately. When you ask this question, you will learn that many more differences are not obvious at the surface level. The fact that you plan to tour a Montessori program most likely means that you are looking for an alternative to public school. Learning how Montessori differs from public school can help you in the decision-making process.
Use this list as a prompt to help you come up with even more questions to ask while you tour a Montessori school. Do not be shy about asking questions because the purpose of a campus tour and class observation is to help you get the information you need to decide on Montessori education.