If you live in Dallas and are considering Montessori education for your child, chances are that you’ve heard of Saint Alcuin, Lakewood or White Rock Montessori. If not, read more below.
Before having a child, it is not uncommon to read traditional books such as What to Expect When You’re Expecting and The Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy among others (although much of that information is now available through apps and online). The sheer amount of information available to help you prepare for having a child seems endless — but that pales in comparison to the energy you will expend in determining how to educate and teach your child once they emerge into the world.
If you’re like most parents, early decisions that involve your child’s learning and education include finding the right crib mobile, beginner board books, and developmental toys. Then come other decisions like finding a babysitter, nanny or daycare that are consistent with your parenting style and philosophy. For some parents, the Montessori philosophy and approach to learning are at the center of how they raise and educate their child.
Understanding Montessori education
The Montessori approach to education has been around since 1897, when Italian physician and educator Maria Montesorri began developing a framework for early childhood education based on independence, autonomous learning within a structured environment, and respect for a child’s natural psychological development.
The basic cornerstones of Montessori education are as follows:
- Mixed-age classrooms that encourage students as mentors to one another — usually toddler (ages 0-3), primary (3-6), and elementary (6-12)
- Student-led learning environments where the student has the choice of activity from a set of options; Teachers are there as guides
- Uninterrupted blocks of activity time that allow the student to focus on task completion
- A discovery model of learning that allows students to learn concepts by working through tasks and with materials of their interest, rather than by direct instruction
Montessori classrooms emphasize activities and materials scaled to the child’s size and ability, and afford opportunities for independent movement and learning. There are usually small tables and chairs clustered around the room, and activity materials on child-height shelves throughout the room.
Benefits of a Montessori education
Studies have found that Montessori students tend to show significant advantages over their non-Montessori peers:
- better preparedness in reading and math skills
- ability to adapt to changing and more complex problems,
- better social and behavioral skills — demonstrating a greater sense of justice and fairness
- more positive interactive play with peers, and a greater sense of community
- cognitive creativity and more sophisticated sentence structures
Here are a couple of articles that highlight the benefits of a Montessori education and research findings:
- Montessori Builds Innovators – Andrew McAffee (Harvard Business Review)
- Montessori Education Provides Better Outcomes than Traditional Methods, Study Indicates – Association of Montessori Internationale (AMI)
And for what it’s worth, here are some names that you may recognize of people who were educated as children under the Montessori philosophy: Larry Paige and Sergey Brin (founders of Google), Jeff Bezos (founder of Amazon), Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Julia Child, Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Nobel Prize winner for literature), and Prince William and Prince Henry.
Finding the right Montessori school
Once you’ve decided that you’re on board with Montessori education, finding a good Montessori school is the next step — and not always an easy one. Any school can now call itself a Montessori school, since the Montessori trademark was diluted and lost in 1967. In your search, you will quickly find that not all Montessori schools are created equal. Look for Montessori accredited schools with Montessori certified teachers. Accreditations and certifications will come from the AMI (Association Montessori Internationale) or AMS (American Montessori Society).
A few resources to help you as you start your search:
- What to look for in a Montessori school
- AMI Montessori School Directory
- AMS Montessori School Directory
Notable Montessori schools in Dallas
In Dallas, there are several AMI and AMS accredited schools to choose from. Tuition can range from $3K-$30K per year.
- East Dallas Community Schools (ages 0-6+)
- Lakewood Montessori School (ages 2.5-12)
- Montessori Children’s House & School (ages 3-6+)
- Montessori School of North Dallas (ages 1-9)
- St. Alcuin Montessori School (ages 0-12)
- St. Christopher Montessori (ages 2-6)
- St. James Episcopal School (ages 1.5-6)
- White Rock Montessori School (ages 3-15)
Schedule a tour and observe the classrooms while they are in session. Talk to different teachers and get a sense for how long they’ve been teaching, and what they value about Montessori education. And most importantly, watch the students in the classroom, and how the teachers/guides and assistants interact with them.
You’ll know if and when you’ve found the Montessori school that’s right for your child, and for you.
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