Choosing a Preschool

Choosing a preschool is an important decision to make for your child's future. There are many options available but if you are specifically looking for a Montessori preschool there are a few things you should know.

The word "Montessori" is not patented, so unfortunately anyone can use the name for any reason or purpose. Hence the use of the word does not guarantee a quality child care facility. Many schools that use the name are not familiar with the Montessori Method and do not use authentic Montessori equipment. Some key features of an authentic Montessori school are:

1. High Quality Montessori teachers are B.Ed certified and specifically trained additionally in the Montessori Method.

2. A full range of authentic Montessori materials (didactic aids) and staff who are trained for ECE (early childhood interactions); in particular scaffolding learning methods. This element is taught via mentor in a work experience not in school based programs.

3. Happy peaceful children who are busy with self-chosen work or group activity that engages them especially in appropriate emotional development supporting self soothing and self regulating.

What a good preschool should have:

The "Feel Good" Quality

Furthermore, it is important to look for a preschool that has a warm and friendly atmosphere as well as being stimulating to a child. When making your decision, it is useful to observe the children while attending the school. If the preschool is filled with unhappy children who look like they'd rather be anywhere else, it's a good sign that you should take your business elsewhere. A great school will invite you to become part of their community and encourage prospective customers to visit and also will allow parents to participate, volunteer, and accompany their children on field trips. For many families the willingness of the operator to accommodate parenting customs, family schedules as well as a child's personality quirks is also very appreciated! :)

Established Rules

A preschool should be flexible within reason but it is very important that it has clearly established rules for staff, students, and parents. In Alberta these rules are reviewed enforced by the provincial government through Child Services Licensing. These standards are established by regulation bodies to cover everything from hours of operation to emergency procedures; all rules are in place to ensure the safety of the children and maximize their developmental opportunities. Adhering to these regulations is the law in Alberta and demonstrates that the facilities is taking both their obligation to the safety of your child seriously. A parent may also note that the Best Facilities have achieved Accreditation Standards Award for operating practises by the Alberta Provincial Government. Just ask the operator when you come for a scheduled visit.

Stimulating Curriculum

A well thought-out curriculum stimulates child development and also makes daily life more fun. The best schools are those that include plenty of time for activity, reading, socializing, art, individual and group activities, in addition to lots of one-on-one learning opportunities. A great Montessori school should provide a child with the chance to try something new. So the curriculum will be adjusted to match the abilities and the skill levels of the children. Montessori preschools have specialized educational philosophies and encourage independence through a wide range of activities. Montessori preschools have specialized educational philosophies and encourage independence through a wide range of activities.

A Qualified and Caring Staff

It is the law that preschool teachers be trained and certified in CPR and other procedures; that gives preschools a significant advantage over babysitters and day homes that may not have such training. Good Montessori teachers should be professional, warm, well educated, responsible, enthusiastic, and very well-prepared. A key thing to look for is that a preschool shares your philosophy about discipline and other child development issues. Make sure that your chosen preschool has plenty of staff to give your child the attention they need to thrive. Also a preschool with responsible staff well trained is most likely to be able to provide consistent and stable care to your children.

Clean and Safe Facilities

In order to meet licensing requirements, a preschool must be clean and follow the basic rules of safety. Still it is a good idea to visit the school and ensure that the floors are clean, trash isn't left sitting out, and that the building is adequately lit, heated, and ventilated. It is also important that toys and play equipment are in good condition to ensure the children's safety. Another important feature that a good preschool should have is an available fire extinguisher and first aid kit in case of emergencies. Also, to ensure the safety of students, the school and surrounding property should be secure in order to ensure that strangers can't just walk in off the street.

The Bottom Line....

Ultimately, choosing a preschool is a very personal decision for the parent and the right preschool will be instrumental in shaping a child's future. if you're searching specifically for a Montessori program, you'll want to find a gentle stimulating curriculum and a classroom full of authentic Montessori materials that are tended to by a staff that is happy and content with their employment. Children need warm, clean, and safe environments with consistent caregivers because a child thrives best when they are able to form strong and enduring bonds with their caregivers.

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