Montessori Preschools -- Valueable or a Waste of Money?

[deleted account] ( 49 moms have responded )

Any moms out there have any opinions on the value of Montessori preschools? Did/do your children attend them? I am planning on sending my almost 3 year old twins to a Montessori preschool next fall, but the cost is literally giving me heartburn. Any thoughts on Montessori schools out there? Pros/cons?

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Kate CP - posted on 12/18/2010

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...How much do you guys think it costs to send a child to a Montessori preschool?! I only pay $700 a month for a full day/full week school. It's less if she only goes half days or 2-3 days a week.

I honestly don't think it's that expensive for what you get out of it. My daughter thrives on it and most (MOST) children do. There are some kids who need a more structured environment. The Montessori method is about letting a child explore their environment with some guidance. A child is allowed to work on one thing for as long as they want. When a child masters a work (like the pink tower, the brown stairs, or the bead chains) they are encouraged to teach other children how to do it which reinforces the things they have already learned. Children are taught to respect each other and their environment from the very beginning and are encouraged to be as independent as possible. When a child says "I don't want to do that work today. I want to do this instead" a Montessori teacher SHOULD acquiesce and allow the child to work on that item. A good Montessori teacher is really hard to find in the classroom because he or she will blend in. They don't shout across the room, they don't interfere with children while they are working, and they observe EVERYTHING. A Montessori school should encourage you to visit and observe the classrooms several times before making a decision on whether or not to send your child there. They should also insist on meeting with the child before they enroll to determine whether or not the child would benefit from the classrooms they have. Any school that doesn't allow observation or drop in visits is a school you DO NOT want to send your kids to.

The materials in a classroom should be made of wood or metal and very few things should be made of plastic. The tables and chairs should be aligned in such a way as to make the room flow evenly and not seem like rows or groups of tables. There should be ABSOLUTELY NO desks in the classroom. Everything should be at the child's level and easily accessible.

I love the Montessori method. I was raised in a Montessori environment and my mother is a certified Montessori teacher. If I couldn't send my kids to Montessori school I would home school without a doubt. But thank god for Montessori because I don't think my personal abilities to home school are that great. :/

[deleted account]

I did go to preschool, but it wasn't a Montessori preschool. Montessori is definitely more advanced than regular preschool. It’s not just based on playing and crafts – everything has a purpose. Most Montessori kids are reading by 4, doing addition and subtraction by 4 to 5, etc. It's kind of hard to consolidate the Montessori philosophy down into a short summary, but basically, the Montessori method is based on the concept that very young children (younger than 6) can absorb concepts very easily if they are given the appropriate materials. The Montessori materials use hands-on items to teach complex concepts. So instead of learning how to read just looking at books, first you play “I Spy” to learn the sounds, then you learn your letters by tracing letters made out of sandpaper (so you are experiencing the letters with multiple senses -- sight, touch, sound). Rather than teaching kids to write early, they have a set called the moveable alphabet, which is basically cut-out letters, that allows very small children to "write" by selecting the letters (rather than having to use a pencil). They also "write' in sand trays. In the meantime, they have a lot of activities that are designed to develop writing skills – e.g., picking up cylinders with pegs on top to work on the pincer grasp for writing, tracing circles and other shapes to work on the movements needed to write. A lot of the early materials are designed to teach concepts without really teaching them -- e.g., numbers are learned by using rods of varying lengths, then the numbers are introduced with sandpaper numbers, then they use counters and rods to develop the concept more, etc. -- it's all very hands-on. Instead of telling a child what the number 1000 is, you would give them a box made out of 1000 beads sewn together. Everything builds on each other – the trinomial cube is basically a 3D puzzle for the little ones based on matching colors, but is actually the physical representation of algebraic formulas introduced in later grades. To me, a regular preschool would be a waste of time – my boys are already involved in plenty of free playgroups and already know their colors, numbers, how to count to 20, and most of their letters and their sounds. One of the beauties of Montessori is that it is totally child-paced -- you child isn't forced to sit and watch other kids learn their colors when they have known their colors for two years. That being said, none of the teaching methods are incredibly complicated and there are lots of people who homeschool Montessori.

[deleted account]

That could be it Sherri. The public schools in my town have been ranked #1 in our state for the past 6 years. If you live here, why would you WANT to pay for private school? I'm sure people have their reasons, but the large majority are more than happy to take advantage of our free pre-school for 4-year-olds (and through grade 12). I never realized how expensive pre-school is outside of this town, but I guess that would be the reason. We pay for it in property taxes though...

Schmoopy - posted on 12/20/2010

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The thing I find confusing about Montessori is that schools that aren't certified as Montessori can still call themselves that.

My daughter attends a Waldorf school. No school can use "Waldorf" in its name or its literature unless it's certified by AWSNA (the governing body of all Waldorf schools in North America). That's b/c the word "Waldorf" is copyrighted.

Too bad Montessori isn't able to better control the use of its brand so we parents can know exactly what we're getting when we choose a school.

Kate CP - posted on 12/19/2010

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Brittany: That is just NOT true. There are two schools of Montessori: AMI and AMS. AMI tends to follow a more traditional Montessori method of teaching and child-led classrooms whereas AMS is more structured and teacher-led. If a school wishes to teach the Montessori curriculum they MUST have teachers who are certified in one or both methods of teaching.

However, any one can label their school Montessori or Christian or Happy Pants and do their own thing. But if a school is a true Montessori school they MUST follow the curriculum and methodology set forth by Maria Montessori.

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[deleted account]

If you can afford it and think your child would like that type of learning environment then go for it.
It's a fairly structured child directed program.
There is a lot of belief that skills are learned in a specific sequence. Any child I have known to go to a Montessori school is reading by 3 or 4. The ones here in my area have programs for 18 months of age and right up to grade 5 or 6.
The only thing to consider is that just as it is for any preschool or day care, it is only as good as the staff working in it. So get some references and feed back from former and current parents of children who attend the school.
And the only cons are price and the fact that if you switch into a public school later, the children will almost certainly be ahead of his/her age group.

[deleted account]

Well...this is actually the first year the pre-school is free. In years past it has been $300/month for the "public" pre-school. But then, pre-school and even kindergarten are not required by law here.

Sherri - posted on 12/20/2010

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Our public schools are ranked #2 in our state and still we don't have public preschool. School system itself is phenomenal and I would never pay for private school once they hit kindergarten just no need too. But no choice for preschool.

Sherri - posted on 12/20/2010

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Wow I never knew our preschools here were so much money compared to others. Probably because all of ours are privately owned and operated. We don't have public preschools or any preschools that are at no cost. We don't even have headstart in our town either. I know in the next city over they have rates based on your income but honestly those are the low of the low of preschools and my child would NEVER step foot in the door of such a place.

[deleted account]

Here I can pay about $200/month for 5 half day at a private pre-school (starting at age 3). It would be about $80/month for 2 half days a week, which is what I'm *considering* for next year.



There is ONE reason I would start her at age 3. The public pre-school (that starts at age 4) is free! But it's 5 full days. It just seems like such a HUGE jump to go from being home to going to school all day every day. I think it would be good to introduce her to a school environment before that big transition.



However, if the $80 a month doesn't come easily for us at that point, I'll keep her home. I'm confident that she won't miss out academically. We go to a music class and library program and church each week so she gets plenty of social interaction. Therefor 3-year-old preschool is not a priority for us, but I'm not closed to it if we can make it work financially.

Amy - posted on 12/20/2010

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See, my daughter has learned nothing at preschool that I have not already taught her. She knows her letters, the sounds they make, her numbers, she speaks VERY well. Her 20 month old brother speaks as well as her 3 year old cousin - kinda scary for the 3 year old. She knows a few states on the US map, knows shapes, can write/copy letters and numbers and does crafts with scissors, glue, colors, paints....I guess preschool for us is only there so she can be around children I don't approve of. It's 60 dollars a month for two days a week here. She learned sign language at home, learned some Hindi, Spanish, and French [and about 5 words in German thanks to daddy]. That's why I was asking about this and why it's so stellar. Because from most preschools I've seen or heard of, all they do is play and do crafts and occasionally learn letters, colors and numbers. And those basic colors/numbers/shapes/letter things, I have already taught her. And even if preschool and kindergarten have been around for a while, my sister didn't go, i didn't go, my parents didn't go. Maybe we just live too far in the country. ??

Rosie - posted on 12/20/2010

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dana, i havn't checked out any private school prices, cause i'm super cheap. but all the regular preschools around here are 3 days a week, 2 1/2 hours a day, and range from $100 a month to $250 a month. i called ALOT of preschools when trying to enroll vinnie, and $100 was the cheapest.

i personally think it's a waste to do before the age of 4 as well. my children have never suffered, and are always in the top 6 students in their class.

Amber - posted on 12/20/2010

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Our local school system actually offers preschool here, and we have Head Start too.
About half of our private preschools are through church organizations and the other half are just independent private preschools, like the one my son attends.

[deleted account]

We have a huge range in costs in Michigan -- some are $1000 per year for 2 days a week (which is about $100 per month) all the way up to $8000 per year for the most expensive Montessori schools (which are five days a week; half day). Co-ops are much less expensive, but I'm not crazy on the whole co-op concept. I don't know of any free preschools here (not including Head Start, which isn't really free to the taxpayers).

Amber - posted on 12/20/2010

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I live in Northern Indiana just outside Chicago. But we have about 7 private preschools and several free preschools in my town. There is a lot of competition. So, the prices went down.

Amber - posted on 12/20/2010

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Hmmm...I'm intrigued now. I love my son's current preschool. It's about $100 per month for 2 half days. They are learning to write letters and numbers, letter sounds, working with shapes and colors, the kids have swim lessons, gym class, and next year they start math. It's a great place.
I really think that Christian would love the Montessori way though. He likes to do things at his own pace. When I put him into kindergarten, I might switch him to one of these schools.
We're currently putting out $600 a month for preschool and childcare as it is...and he's only part time at both. So, it's really not that big of a jump when you think about the cost of child care.

Sherri - posted on 12/20/2010

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What I pay is actually the most inexpensive school around and actually I get a break. I was paying $75 a wk for 2 days and they weren't at capacity and offered a break to send my son an extra day raising it to $85 a wk for 10 1/2 hrs a wk of school. Guess things are more expensive here. Heck to send children for full time daycare runs you minimum of $225 a wk.

[deleted account]

That seems like so much. How come where I'm at I send her to a regular preschool two half days a week for $100 PER MONTH! I can't believe you guys are paying that much. Maybe I'm crazy and understood something wrong about our preschools here in Canada.

*opens a new window to research the cost of preschools in BC*

Sherri - posted on 12/20/2010

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I pay $85 a wk for my son to attend 3 half days a week. That is just a regular preschool not anything special.

[deleted account]

$380/mo? Is that a Montessori preschool, Joanna? That seems like SO much money. I'm not opposed to preschool and I would LOVE to put Roxanne in (mainly for socialization which she doesn't have much of now) but when I priced out 2 days a week, at a regular preschool, it was only $100/mo......we're still undecided!

Joanna - posted on 12/20/2010

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Amy, I'm glad to be paying the $380 a month for my daughter to go to preschool 2 days a week. She's only 3, but what she's learned in her 3 months there is amazing... Her social skills are amazing, and her speech is a million times better. Plus she gets to have her own time (perfect since we just had a baby) away from me. It makes her feel like a big girl. Definitely worth the money!

Sherri - posted on 12/20/2010

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Actually kindergarten has been around a very long time. I am 38 and my parents are in their 60's they went to kindergarten back in the 50's.

I know in my son's preschool they have learned all their upper case and lower case letters, all their #'s by site and written 1-10. Know how to write their first and last names by memory.

Amy - posted on 12/20/2010

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I had NEVER heard of this before and had to look up what it was. I was homeschooled, no idea what type it was. ?? Our daughter just goes to a Christian preschool at a local church. Honestly, it's preschool. I didn't even go to school until the 1st grade. What kind of curriculum would a preschooler require? I hope no one takes offense, but I often believe we push our kids too far too fast. After all, they didn't use to go to school until 1st grade way back when and they still made it through much more info in less time. I just don't get it. I would rather keep my daughter home with me and make sure her manners are learned before ABC and 123. All you really need to teach them is a map, outside, inside, the park, a plant, maybe the zoo and some books. I guess, someone explain to me also how this is worth all the money for so young an age. My daughter just turned 4 and is now in preschool. I thought I was sending her too early.

[deleted account]

@Schmoopy -- you can blame the US Courts for that -- they ruled decades ago that the Montessori name wasn't intellectual property. Therefore, anyone can use it, which is too bad because it makes it tougher to figure out which schools are true "Montessori" schools.

[deleted account]

Montessori schools are not standardized anyone can call their preschool a Montessori and not follow the curiculum that was originally made.

That reason alone makes me a sceptic. At the same time I went to one for a year and loved it.

Sherri - posted on 12/19/2010

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For some children they are amazing for others they are the worst thing possible for them. You really need to know your children to see if they will flourish in this type of environment. My children need a very structured environment and this type of school would have been very detrimental for them. However, for others it is exactly what they need.

[deleted account]

I wish we had the money! I truly do but we're going to wait until Roxanne is 4 and she'll do one year of preschool prior to Kindy.

[deleted account]

Last year, my son attended an amazing preschool that shared Montessori philosophies, but there was more structure and defined curriculum. He went full time at $163 a week. IMO, I wish I sent him there sooner as a 3 year old! We LOVED his preschool, and he also attended their summer camp. I cannot even begin to write all the praise of his school. Science experiments, cooking, art class, music, sign language, drama, in addition to reading, writing, math, etc. All age appropriate level. My son & his little 'girlfriend' went through preschool together, an dnow in teh same Kindergarten class. They are both top students. And it all goes back to the preschool. In fact, his little friend had to test early into Kindergarten becasue she wasn't 5 when school started. If you can financially do it, I am a huge advocate for early childhood preschools!

Schmoopy - posted on 12/19/2010

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Montessori is fine, but preschool in general isn't a mandatory thing - for a reason. Children really don't NEED to be in school at age 3. You can provide plenty of learning opportunities, stimulation, and social interaction with a little planning. Playgroups and homeschooling websites are a great place to start. Many museums have "free" admission days. You can find countless "mommy and me" classes.



Here are some great websites with fun and educational activities you can do with your children:



http://themagiconions.blogspot.com/



http://bendingbirches2010.blogspot.com/

Kate CP - posted on 12/18/2010

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They learn math and science in Montessori school. When a child masters a certain work the teacher will introduce a new work for them to learn. They encourage the child to go back to the work over and over even if they don't really "enjoy" it. But any gifted teacher (in any system) can get a child to enjoy a subject matter by tweaking the lesson plan to suit the child's needs/desires.



Edited to add: Summer camp in Montessori school is a little like their traditional school year but it's much more relaxed.

Joanna - posted on 12/18/2010

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Our local Montessori is about $800 a month for 2 half days a week!

I like the more structured school for Paige. She needs a schedule and to be told "we need to do this now." it's just how she learns best. So we aren't a fan of Montessori for her.

[deleted account]

J didn't go to the year round preschool, but we put him in a couple of Summer camp preschool programs. We have a few Montessori schools to pick from in this area--some are fantastic and worth every penny, some leave a lot to be desired.
I loved the one we sent J to for summer camp. I think tuition for year round preschool is around $9,500 /yr, so well under $1k/month. The summer programs varied, the ones we chose were $800 for two weeks, 6 hours each day, Monday - Friday. He got to do all kinds of wonderful things--they have a solarium, a huge telescope, a greenhouse, and a greenhouse that was like a rain forest (I forget what they called that thing, but it was like the regular greenhouse, but with different insects and plants growing directly out of the ground). They worked in the garden, and learned about solar panels and green energy. They also took several field trips.
It was not very structured, but the classes were small (there were 4 in my son's class), and they learned and experienced a lot.
Now, this was preschool summer camp, and it was wonderful for that, but we decided he needed a more structured environment for actual education.

Caitlin - posted on 12/18/2010

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Not worth the price.. You can get a kid excited about learning in other ways, I'd rather pay my car and house TYVM. I kind of agree with it, but only until grade 2-3 MAX, after that the kids NEED to learn science, even if they don't care, they need to learn math, even if they don't like it.. Heck, if I was in a montessori school when I was a kid, I wouldn't have done science or maths at all (even though we had pretty damn good teachers, I just didn't like it).

[deleted account]

Only $700 a month? Well let me skip right over to sign up. ;)
I'm joshing you. I'm glad you (Kate and Rebecca) can do it. The potential $80 a month, if I chose to send my daughter to two half days at age 3, is making me a little nervous.

[deleted account]

I would say most Montessori preschools in our area are between $5,000 - $7,500 per year per child. Since we have twins, double that. It's extremely expensive, without a doubt. We also have a public Montessori school that is K - 8, so once our boys are kindergarden level they could go to the free elementary school.

However, having done a lot of reading about the methodology and visiting a few classrooms, I'm in love with the program. I love the freedom the children have to pick their own work and to move around the classroom freely. I also think the methods of teaching math and reading are brillant. I also love that the pace of work is highly individualized. My mother was very pro-montessori, although we didn't attend montessori schools due to cost concerns, we did have a lot of the methods incorporated into our home growing up (she was also a teacher). I'm finding a lot of my friends, who are elementary teachers, think the method is nonsense, but I get the feeling they don't really know anything about it other than the cost. My brother-in-law (again, teacher) feels like some of the people here do -- that if you are involved in your kid's education, they will do will regardless of what type of school they are in. Which is true to some extent, but I also don't want the boys spending two years learning nothing when I think they are capable of doing more and interested in doing it.

[deleted account]

$700/month? That was my rent before HUD started helping me. Not including food... I live on less than that right now. ;)

Minnie - posted on 12/18/2010

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Yeah... Sallie Mae squeezes it all out of us. No way do we have an extra 700 a month.

[deleted account]

WOW! Kate, $700 a MONTH? YIKES....if I was loaded, I would for sure but I can't even afford the $100/mo for a regular preschool.

I wish ***I*** had a mom who was a Montessori teacher. ;)

[deleted account]

I would LOVE to send Roxanne but it's more than double the cost of regular preschools. I think we're going to hold off on preschool all together until she's 4 and then put her in for one year just prior to Kindegarten. Hopefully by then our financial situation will be better and we don't have to live in a cardboard box just to afford preschool! ;)

We've also considered a french immersion preschool because we will most likely be enrollling her in french immersion elementary school. The only problem with that is there are only two french immersion preschools and neither are nearby. ACK!

Rosie - posted on 12/18/2010

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i was thinking $1,000, which is more than my mortgage. $700 is almost my mortgage-it's $775. i'm still shuddering, lol.

Rosie - posted on 12/18/2010

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i'm not to up to date on these things, but from what i've gathered the above average scores on things normally starts to even out with other children around the age of 12.

i'm too cheap to even consider spending money on a school like that. no amount of fabulous education is a good enough reason for me to depart with that type of money. that sounds horrid, but it's just simply something i can't fathom doing. i got a great education, everybody else i know got a great education without spending gobs of money. i think it's stupid. your child can get a great education at a normal preschool if you are actively involved, which it sounds like you would be. i'm shuddering at spending that much money on preschool.

Minnie - posted on 12/18/2010

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I like the idea, if one can afford it. We can't, so plan to homeschool our children, with their interests leading the way.

April - posted on 12/18/2010

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For me, Montessori schools are as close to unschooling as I can come to, without having to homeschool my children. I like the idea of the children taking charge of what they want to learn and guiding their own learning. I am considering sending my son to a Montessori preschool, as well when he is 4 (maybe 3, not sure yet) . The negatives are: a lot of times there is only one in the area (so likely a waiting list), cost, well that's all I can come up with for now.

[deleted account]

I would be all over it...except the closest one is a 30 minute drive (in non-rush hour traffic) and we can't afford it. I think it's great if it's something that is feasible for you. I'm most likely going to keep my daughter home until we can enroll her in the free 4-year-old pre-school program that our public school offers. Until then, I'm teaching her at home. I have an elementary education degree, and my mom has an early childhood education degree. Between the two of us, I have plenty of resources to give my daughter a good education without breaking the bank. But like I said, if it was feasible, I'd do it. =)

[deleted account]

Because of the cost I've never looked into them enough to form a valuable opinion. From what little I DO know/remember.... it sounds pretty good.

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