Montessori Musings

Am I the only one who thinks of preschool and thinks, “Oh, cool. A chance for kids to learn how to play nicely with other kids, learn some colors and shapes, and figure out life in a classroom”? That had always been my impression…Until I toured a Montessori school.

Wes, being the stalwart Libertarian Constitutionist he is, asked me to look into Montessori education for our son. I took one look at the tuition for Montessori and passed out, then refused to look into it any more.

We saw a booth for a local Montessori at the farmer’s market on Wednesday so I stopped by to see what it was all about. They invited me to take a tour, which I did today.

Oh my goodness, you guys. They’ve figured out a way to civilize toddlers. The toddler room was so quiet, all the little kids just working away industrially on their developmentally-appropriate projects. A few came up to me and were exquisitely polite, and it was astounding to see these toddlers doing stuff like serving their own snacks using tongs and then carrying their plates to the table, where they sat and ate them nicely.

And then there was Aidan, rushing into the fray like a tiny conquering Viking child, messing with the other childrens’ projects and making a giant crumby mess of the snack table. I watched a little girl use a tiny brush and dustpan to sweep up the crumbs and could scarcely believe my eyes.

There is something to be said for the Montessory approach to educating children. I have never, in my life, seen children engaged in learning like that. Kids working on numbers and mathematics because they were interested in it, not because a teacher told them it was time to work on math. Absolutely incredible.

Man sakes alive is it expensive, though. I mean, think of a number you would feel extremely uneasy about paying each month for preschool tuition. Then double it. Then maybe double it again.

Is it worth it? Argh, that’s the crux of the problem, isn’t it? Experts say the most important foundations for how children learn are established from ages 0-6, so maybe. As a parent, you want to provide the absolute best possible start for your kids. Then again, when you’re talking these kinds of monthly costs, you start to really wonder how important it is to send your child to the Super Genius Kids’ Preschool.

You know what I could really go for right now? A giant pile of money. Or, better yet, a giant pile of gold bricks. Aidan can use them to weigh down his Montessori art projects.