- School stuff... We know it's Montessori, but which association certifies them? What are their standings in the state? Are their teachers certified (both in Montessori and as early educators)? Do you do fire drills? Do you have an emergency/disaster evacuation plan? Who can pick up the kids if, for whatever reason, I cant? Do you have a videocam so that parents can check in and see what is going on in the classroom?
- Classroom stuff... How many classes? How many kids? (They are mixed age groups, which is a principle of Montessori) What's the teacher-to-child ratio? How many aides are in each class? Are all the people in the school cleared by the state and FBI with child abuse clearances and are they updated? (Hey, Peter and I have these- they should too) Will the kids be in the same class? Will their class have the same teacher daily? How often due teachers leave (find other employment)? What is the behavioral problem management style of the school? How do they discipline (ie is it a type of isolation, physical punishment, etc)? What's a typical day like? Is there TV (and if so, how much)? Is there naptime?
- Education stuff... How much reading/writing learning takes place? Is there daily art/music/play-gym-recess? Do the kids go outside daily, weather permitting? Are there field trips of any sort? When are the kids evaluated on skills? (kids develop at differing paces, but if there are learning delays, we'd like to know sooner rather than later so that we can get some intervention)
- Hygience stuff... Kids must be potty trained, but will there be someone there to help to ensure cleanliness? (I know kids in elementary school who still struggle with their bottoms being clean). Hand washing? Is there a snacktime and, if so, are hands washed first/after? Do we provide snacks? Do they? Are children required to have certain immunizations? (We use Dr. Sears as a guide and dont follow the AAP guidelines) Sick policy for kids?
- Is the director onsite? Who teaches a class in the event a teacher is sick?
- Is parental involvement encouraged? Can I visit the classroom unannounced? Do you communicate with parents on a regular basis?
What am I missing? As someone who has A) never done this before and B) never really planned to send my kids to a preschool, I'm at a loss. The other big thing we are discussing is time. We know that we want no more than 2-3 hours away from home, and in the morning (since we do nap in the afternoon and I'll want to 'homeschool' a bit with them still, in addition to hearing about their day, playing, etc). How many days? Some places, like the Friends (Quaker) preschool offer 2 and 3 days, while the local Catholic school offers a 2 day, but the Montessori offers 3 day and 5 day. Which is best? And then, of course, there is cost... While the Catholic school is $3260 for both for the year and I havent heard back from the Quaker school yet, but the Montessori school is (gulp) $4140 (or about $3700 after discounts for 2 kids and paying in full) for 3 day or $5400 (or about $4750 after discounts). (Waldorf: $1040 for both kids... 4 days, 4 hours a day, but we could apply for financial aid). So, still, we're looking at several thousands of dollars... For a few hours a day...
So, there's a lot to think about. While I'm still not 100% sold on the idea, we do think that the kids could benefit from it. And I want that for them. I want a good, academic environment that still allows them to be children. I want them to forge new friendships and make connections with folks... I'd like to meet other, local parents of kids Bobby & Maya's age... So, there are positives. But I'm nervous...
Share your experiences- good and bad... And, if you have them, any additional questions we might want to consider. Our appointment is at 9:30 tomorrow, so I'll let you know!
(Unsure about what the heck I'm going on and on about??? Here's a link that explains the differences between Montessori and Waldorf preschools)