Want to Hear Your Experience with Montessori Preschools

Updated on April 04, 2011
J.W. asks from Ithaca, NY
6 answers

My family and I plan to move to Ithaca this summer and I am looking to enroll my four-year old son in a preschool. He currently attends preschool 3 days per week from 9AM - 3 PM. Although he will turn 5 in October and meets the age requirement for kindergarten, we think he is not quite ready for kindergarten. I would love to hear your experince good or bad with Montessori-style preschools. And if you live in the Ithaca area, any recommendations for preschools.

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

More Answers



answers from New York on

I think that the individual Montessori program makes a big difference. There is no licensing requirement to be "Montessori" and anyone can use the name, or call themselves "Montessori based." My daughter is a Montessori daycare, and so far we're very happy. The idea that there's NO structure is not true in a real Montessori environment. And the children are self-directed to a large degree, but the teachers encourage them to explore different areas. Montessori strongly pushes internally based discipline, and many kids come out with a much greater ability to focus. However, it does encourage individual work, and may not be the best choice for all children.

My suggestion - do research and visit the schools. Montessori is only one option, and it should be mostly about finding a good fit for your child. We didn't choose our daycare because it was Montessori, but because the calm, respectful atmosphere impressed us, and because they had a great physical space and great playground. It "felt right" for our daughter. We visited/talked to other Montessori (or in one case "Montessori") schools, and I can say definitively that there's a BIG range out there for things that call themselves Montessori.



answers from New York on

I had my oldest daugher at a Montessori preschool from age 2 to age 4. The first year was wonderful--the children were grouped appropriately to their age, the learning materials were all appropriate to their age, and my daughter felt nurtured and could grow at her own pace. However, when she went to the primary program, the children were grouped from ages 3-5 in the same room. In theory, the idea was great (the younger could learn from the older, etc) but the reality of it for my particular child was that she seemed to be left to her own devices more than what was good for her. She wasn't challenged to move out of her comfort zone and I found she became more rigid in her temperment as a result (she's always been a difficult child). At the end of the year, when she turned 4, we moved her to a preschool where the children were grouped according to age, and where they moved class to class--4 classrooms per day, each class focusing on a different developmental area (social emotional, number concepts, language concepts, physical education, etc) with a nice long break in the middle of the day for free play, nap, lunch, etc. Rather than overwhelming her like I feared it would, having all those transitions every day actually really boosted her confidence, and within 2 weeks she was a different child. Bottom line is, it totally depends on your child. Bear in mind: the Montessori teaching materials are very different from the learning materials in the traditional school classrooms, so when your child is taught concepts in Montessori, he is taught using materials he will never see again if he switches to mainstream education, and it might take him a little while in the beginning of the new school year to catch up. Hope this helps!



answers from New York on

Dear J.,

Our experience with Montessori has been wonderful, fantastic, over-the-moon. When my son first started at Montessori, at just-turned-3, he was so shy with other children he literally wouldn't say a word in their presence. We were looking at all kinds of neurodevelopmental diagnoses. Now, after two years in Montessori, he has two best friends, from whom he's inseparable, and plays with all kinds of children. He's academically advanced for his age and is reading quite well (at about a mid-first-grade level) and doing basic addition and subtraction at only four-and-a-half. He even has a conceptual grasp of multiplication and fractions. So, I think the world of Montessori.

I don't know a thing about Ithaca (except that it's beautiful), so I can't recommend a specific school there. But many Montessori schools have kindergarten programs. If yours does, you might consider enrolling your son in that and then evaluating, toward the end of the year, whether he should go from there to kindergarten or 1st grade.

Best wishes,




answers from Syracuse on

I dont have any personal experience with my boys at any Montessori schools in Ithaca, they dont went to a parent-cooperative nursery school in Trumansburg (small town about 10 miles outside of Ithaca) that was wonderful. However I have had a few friends that have had their children in Montessori schools in Ithaca. There is Eac Montessori School and the Little Feet Montessori. I am pretty sure my friends take their children there. There is also Ithaca Montessori school and Namaste Montessori. Unfortunately I cant give you much more information other than that but I haven't heard of any issues at any of them and all of the school around the area are really good. I could tell you which elementary schools I have heard arent great or daycares to stay away from. I hope this was at least a little bit helpful to get you started. Good luck on the move!



answers from Oklahoma City on

I have over 10 years in child care and can honestly say the ones that I have worked in that have been Montessori based were the worst. The kids did not have any structure, they were allowed to so whatever they wanted, that means if they got hungry they went and fixed themselves a sandwich and then cleaned up the area. They had little self control and when they started actual school they were bringing notes home nearly every day that it took them hours to calm down and get mentally focused. I would never send any of my kids to them. Kids need structure, not crammed down their throat but some structure.

Four year old children do not belong in Kindergarten. I don't know of hardly any states that allow kids to go at four anymore. I think trying the Pre-K program at the local elementary school would be the best choice for your little guy. That way he can make lifelong friends that he will be in elementary school on up with.



answers from Boston on

It really depends on your child. My two older children went to Montessori preschool for 2 years each then they went on to public kindergarten in our town, which has one of the top school systems in the state (MA). My oldest struggled in school -- he was behind in reading and handwriting. He ended up on an IEP (special ed) in first grade. He's now in 2nd grade and has caught up and is doing really well. I don't think Montessori was right for him. Montessori ed stresses independence and the child choosing his own activity. My son needed way more structure. Now, my daughter did much better -- she was reading at 4 and is still ahead of the curve. I think that's just her though; she's a smart cookie :-)

We were debating about whether to send them to public kindergarten, and the public school principal said that many Montessori kids have a tough transition to public school. The teachers have to spend half of the first year catching them up on things they should already know, yet the kids are more advanced on other topics (it really depends on what the child is interested in, since they choose what they want to do). So, if you ultimately intend to send your child to public school, I'd think about whether a Montessori education for 1 year is the right way to go.

It's also very expensive; we spent the equivalent of a college education for 3 years, which I deeply regret.

Hope that helps,

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions