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Old 12-29-2007, 07:53 AM
 
23 posts, read 85,994 times
Reputation: 18

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I'm a Montessori teacher, and thought I'd chime in, based on what I've heard from parents on tours and what my school does for relocating families:

Montessori schools will often tug and yank to make room for relocating families who have kids coming from another Montessori school.

Our program will make room for siblings, and we tend to take families with several children off the waitlist quicker (the idea is, it's easier to take 1 family w/ 3 kids vs 3 families of only children, as you're orienting 1 instead of 3 sets of parents). There is a slight discount for siblings, and another slight discount for paying tuition for advance.

Why you may not want Montessori:
Many montessori schools emphasize full day, academic "hands on" programs, the smaller schools tend to lean more towards part day. Some teachers feel that part-day is not enough time for the child to really "own" his/her classroom, so there doesn't tend to be a great savings to part day vs full day tuition in Montessori world.

Montessorians also really want to keep your kids for kindergarten, and like to have them in the same room from 3 to age 6. The schools are usually more expensive in part because training teachers and keeping them is more expensive. You want more educated, skilled teachers, ya gotta pay more than you'd pay a babysitter on friday night.

Now, local standards:

Supposedly, lead teachers are required by the state to have a degree or 3 years of classroom experience. Realistically, it's very difficult for the state to verify that experience (especially with our interational and transient population), though most schools do check references, etc. All classroom staff undergo a background check, are checked for TB, and every classroom is required to have an individual certified in first aid, cpr, and medication administration. Schools are required to provide training on safety, disease prevention, and bloodborne pathogens. Staff are also expected to spend 15+ hours/year being trained in child development or other job-related information, outside of first aid, etc, but this is also difficult for the state to verify, as they basically are just taking the schools' word for it.

State ratios for preschool aged children are pretty high, around 1:10 for 3 year olds, it varies slightly w/ age. This is problematic for small classrooms, as you end up with a person alone in the room, which I don't personally like, or 20 three year olds in a room, which is also less than ideal. This is why I do mixed age; for 3-6 year olds, legal ratio is 1:14 (this is also crazy, but some schools do have 28 kids and 2 teachers in a classroom).

Home-based or non-profit schools are not necessarily required to meet the state requirements, from ratios to teacher training. That doesn't mean they don't meet them, just that they don't have to.
Vienna area parents tend to be pretty academically geared sorts, it would surprise me to see very many preschools that didn't have kids ready for kindergarten, just because of that. Kindergarten is not technically mandatory for the state, so technically, your child doesn't need to know anything to go to kindergarten, because he doesn't even have to go to kindergarten. Age cut off for kindergarten is 5 by sept 30, and the school system is pretty strict about that.

I'd try to schedule a visit out here sometime before Easter, and schedule tours with half a dozen schools that you liked b/c of word of mouth or "feel" based on their phone/web contact. You don't need to bring the kids. Make your choice based on how you feel about the schools while you're on the tour. If it feels right, it probably is. I always ask about staff turnover (and don't accept a vague reponse), ratios, teacher experience and education. If full day, ask specifically about the after-school staff. Ask what they do when a child misbehaves, and how long playground time is (should be at LEAST 30 min a day, not including lining up and putting on coats). Do the children and staff and the classrooms look happy, clean, organized? Is the playground large? Is it shaded (it's hot here in the summer)? Is the equipment better than what you could buy at walmart? Are there good books around?
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Old 01-24-2008, 07:41 PM
 
67 posts, read 204,912 times
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Originally Posted by novanative75 View Post
Me too! I went there and she ran it when I was there as well, I am 32! It is the greatest place ever, ahhh the memories. I still remember May Day.

I just happened to see this..a little late..yes, I remember May Day too..I can still remember being an indian....LOLOL! Its pretty amazing when you can remember a preschool isn't it??
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