Is a Montessori child care center right for your child? If you're not sure what type of day care center to choose for your toddler, take a look at the top Montessori questions answered.
Are Toddlers Too Young to Start Montessori?
Montessori education isn't just for older children. Unlike traditional daycares or preschools, Montessori schools group children together in multi-age classrooms. Children under age three are typically in the same infant/toddler room, while Montessori "preschool" ranges from ages three to six.
Some Montessori programs divide the infant/toddler room into two groups or offer a parent-child class for the younger age range. If you're not sure whether a zero-to-three classroom is right for your toddler or they need another option (such as a parent-tot class), ask the school's director about the program and whether it's the right fit for your child.
Are Montessori and Child Care the Same?
There's no simple or universal answer to this question. Montessori schools are based on the specific philosophy developed by Dr. Maria Montessori over a century ago. These programs provide children with the chance to learn, grow, and develop through self-directed activities and the use of a prepared environment (including materials/toys specific to the Montessori approach).
Even though Montessori has obvious differences from a traditional school or preschool environment, your toddler will still receive child care services. While how they learn, what they do, and the overall setting may differ between the two types of "schools", your child will still get the supervision and care in Montessori that they need while you're away.
What Do Toddlers Do in Montessori Schools?
You won't see your toddler sitting and listening to a teacher talk at them in a Montessori classroom. Instead, your child will have the chance to learn through exploration in a prepared environment. While the teacher will closely supervise your toddler and interact with them often, they won't force your child to engage in specific activities or participate in strictly planned lessons.
What Type of Materials Do Toddlers Use in Montessori Programs?
Unlike toys in other daycares, Montessori infant/toddler rooms use specific materials based in the educational program's philosophy. Materials such as the Object Permanence Box allow toddlers to develop hand-eye coordination and cognitive abilities. Along with this material, the Imbucare Box helps young children to learn about shapes and spatial relations.
Your child will also use other materials in the infant/toddler classroom. To better understand the specific items your toddler will explore with daily, talk to the teacher about what materials they routinely make available.
If you have more questions, about the materials or other aspects of the Montessori classroom, schedule a time to meet with your child's potential school staff. A tour and question/answer session will help you to understand the child care center, the philosophy, and what your toddler will get out of this early education environment.