I know all the wonderful things about Montessori, and I am for sure enrolling my daughter once she is Kindergarten-age because she will then be eligible for free tuition through a charter school.
My question though is that next fall, she will be eligible for head start. I know that head start has very high standards compared to a lot of early-childhood programs. And of course, it's free to me and I am a full-time student and low-income mother.
The 5 full-day program (which is the only thing I could do being a full time student and working) is $500 a month. I know that Montessori is worth that, but that would be a very hefty price for me.
Does anyone have experience with state Head Start programs? 1) Would there be any issues transitioning from two years of "traditional" schooling to Montessori? 2) Is Head Start adequate since it would probably be 1/4 of my weekly income to put her in Montessori?
The Montessori curriculum is based on a student being in the program from age 3 through Kindergarten, the full three-year cycle (Here is a blog post on the subject:http://mariamontessori.com/mm/?p=1640 and a video on it: https://vimeo.com/46107251). Most authentic Montessori schools would not accept a student at age 5, because he or she will not have the foundation for independent learning that is required in a Montessori classroom and is established in the first two years. While in the conventional schooling world Head Starts are usually quality preschools, it still does not come close to what an authentic Montessori education offers. They do not focus on life skills and independence the way a Montessori classroom does, which happens mostly in the first two years. If these are things that you value and why you would choose a Montessori school, then you should do it the full three years.
Sounds like a really tough situation for you and I hope you find a solution that works for you and your daughter.
Yes, I agree, that 3 is in many ways an ideal age to start Montessori. But IMO it really isn't something to go into bankruptcy for... and I still feel your daughter will benefit from Montessori even if she doesn't start until kindergarten. Yes, the transition may be a bit of a challenge... but there's many things you can do to prepare her. For example, there are a lot of things you can do to support Montessori at home, which I'm sure you already know something about if you've been looking into Montessori. I think How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way is a nice reference.
My son started Montessori at a Montessori preschool in August last year. I know they have accepted two five year olds since my son started. (This preschool is connected with an elementary school that goes through 5th grade - so these children have started with the intention of continuing there). I don't really know how the individual children have done (umm... none of my business!) but I remember one of the teachers making a more a general comment that it is usually harder for kids to start later but that the staff are aware of this and are prepared to give extra support as needed.
Yeah, I wouldn't be going bankrupt, but the tuition is more than my rent is a month...
It's good to know it CAN be done, and I'm thinking it's actually fairly common in this situation since it is a charter school. I'm guessing a lot of families can't afford to pay the early childhood fee, but once the lottery opens up in Kindergarten place their children.
I also love that this school is 3 years-High School.
Are there any costs to consider aside from tuition? Is head start the same amount of hours or would you need childcare as well? Does one have fees for things like supplies and field trips? What about transportation to and from, is one significantly closer or easier to get to? Is lunch or a snack included in either? There may be a way to get a full or partial scholarship as well, which is worth checking out.
I know of kids who didn't go into montessori until kindergarten, it can work.
Head start is the same amount of hours, I wouldn't need any more childcare than I would with the Montessori. I think for the Montessori, the tuition includes supplies, field trips, etc. And Head Start is significantly closer. Meals are included in Head Start (you actually pay for nothing at all, even field trips and such). And the way I understood it is they don't offer scholarships because she isn't compulsory school age (plus I'm thinking the tuition may be one way the finance the free elementary education?)
It is really more convenient in all ways to go to Head Start. I just wanted to make sure it would be doable to put her in Montessori when it was free.
That is a tough one.
I'm sure she'd be happy either way, tbh. It just depends on how strongly you feel about Montessori Education. The "worth" is entirely subjective. It would be worth it for some people, and not for others, you know? It's all a matter of priorities and comfort in sacrifice.
My opinion? Rice and beans are delicious! I'd just figure out a way to live more frugally and go ahead and enroll her. But also have a fallback- look into Head Start and see if they will accept her in the event that after a few months you realize it is no longer feasible.
Oh, and you can always just implement more Montessori at home, and probably should either way if she will eventually be at a Montessori school.
Have you toured both schools? If they seem comparable, I would really go with the head start. You are young & on a budget- what is really the most important is that your child have kind, loving teachers- regardless of the philosophy. My 2 cents.
We didn't love Montessori that much. I agree with PP, I would tour both schools and see which one seems like a better fit. I found Montessori to be a very restrictive environment for my kid, and a high quality play-based environment was a much better fit for her. In your case I would be learning toward Head Start.
And one more thing to answer your question more directly - I put DD in Montessori at age 3, but for her I honestly think it would have been a much better fit in K, when she had gotten a lot of her social wiggles out and was starting to really enjoy reading and writing and the "work" atmosphere of Montessori.
I respectfully disagree with the previous statement that Montessori will not accept a kindergartner. My daughter's Montessori (accredited, well-established, 45+ years, excellent reputation) will accept a child at any age if they're a good fit, in fact my daughter's primary had 1 or 2 new kindies. Yes, they PREFER a child go through primary 3,4,5 - for many reasons, but a well-run class can assimilate a new student into the routine. It's not like a kindie was just hatched from an egg.
Check to see if the Montessori has grants. Also, it might be that the charter won't take 3 yo, but they will take pre-K.
If you decide you can't afford it, do what you can at home and then get into the Montessori charter as fast as you can reasonably afford.
Now I'm laughing - I completely agreed with Caitlinn's post, when I realized she was an incoming Montessori parent when I was. Hi Caitlinn