i love theo's school and wanted to give you my thoughts about why we chose montessori school for him, and what we love & don't.
we decided on his school before he was even born, and knew we wanted to put him in a montessori progam instead of daycare. we are private about which school he attends, but it is in the hamilton area.
as we researched, we learned the structure and priorities offered in montessori schools were complimentary to what we were doing at home, and felt that it would be a good fit.
montessori, for toddlers, prioritizes movement, language, order, respect, and independence, skills we were already trying to foster at home. theo's school offered a prepared environment with traditional montessori materials, included hot lunches and two snacks, nap time structured into the day, lots of outdoor time, and a respectful environment where independence is prioritized, all of which were critical in our decision to enroll him.
between covid, and me being self employed, it would have been POSSIBLE to keep him home with me until he went to junior kindergarten BUT, it's not what mike and i wanted for him, or for me and my career. i'm so glad that we put him in this school. his language has just blossomed since starting in sept 2021. he's really well adjusted and tries new foods that he's resistant to trying at home. he comes home with stories about his friends and teachers, and overall, has been a wonderful experience in him being around other children and adults for the first time, mainly due to covid, which has limited his exposure to other people.
here's the process we followed and what we think about it:
before he started school:
we researched local montessori schools before theo was born, knowing of the waitlists that exist for daycares, and assuming that would be the case for montessori programs as well. when he was 8 weeks old, we decided to go for a tour at the program we loved the most and attended an open house. this was just weeks before covid, but i'm so thankful for this experience because it completely solidified that this school was the right choice for our family. if you are considering montessori schools or daycares, i highly recommend touring (in person, if possible) the space, and talking to teachers/students there if given the opportunity.
after the tour, we completed the application process and a few months later, had an interview with the principal to go over kind of who we are as a family, our priorities and why we were choosing a montessori program for theo.
a few weeks later, the school offered us a spot for theo. the way his school operates is that you are given a full time spot, and if you wanted to do half-days, it's simply half the day at half the cost. but this allowed the flexibility built into the program for us to move him to full days if we ever wanted to, since there wasn't another child filling the afternoon block of his spot. to secure his spot, we had to submit a one-time registration fee that was in addition to any tuition costs we'd need to pay, not something that would come off of the fees.
before starting, the communication from the school around the process, and opportunity to meet the teachers just before school started, was so helpful!
we went in august 2021, a few weeks before school started to tour the classroom and meet theo's teachers. this was an amazing opportunity to talk to the teachers about what we could expect of them while he was in school and eased some of our anxieties about him being with other adults for the first time ever.
started half days september 2021:
theo started half days in september 2021, and at this point, he was 21 months old.
we would drop him off at 8am, and pick him up at 11:45am, so really, he'd just be there a few hours. in that short time, he would have outdoor time, work time, two potty breaks, and a snack. it was such a great thing to be able to put him in just half days at first to get him used to the idea, though we've also discovered he's much more adaptable than we give him credit for.
his first 2-3 days he cried when we dropped him off, but those were the only tears, just at drop off. because i felt so comfortable with the school, teachers, and our decision to enroll him there, it wasn't as hard as i thought it would be to be away from him. overall, he adjusted well to the morning schedule of waking up, breakfast, playing and getting ready for school, which is quite a bit to accomplish before 7:45am when we have to leave the house.
coming home from school, on the other hand, was hard. theo was learning so many new things, and engaging in so much gross motor skills that often, it was hard to get him home, a 15 minute drive, without falling asleep in the car. even those few minutes of sleeping would push off his nap for a few hours when we got home, and then he was going to bed later than we wanted. because we picked him up before lunch, he'd also have to eat lunch when he got home, which was hard to make happen when he was so tired. all around, this schedule just wasn't working for us.
i'd leave to pick him up at 1130am, get home for 12pm with him, and then struggle to make lunch, and get him down for a nap, for almost 2 hours, having him finally nap around 2pm. so nearly 2.5 hours during my day was just struggling with the schedule, and was really not enjoyable for theo or i.
in december 2021, we decided to enroll him full time starting in january 2022.
started full days january 2022:
i had so much anixety over him eating lunch at school, and napping at school. we've been pretty rigid about his nap schedule. i was also a little emotional about not being with him for the full day, as it had been nearly 2 years of me spending hours with him every day, and how he'd be at school most of the day, so we'd only have a little time in the morning and around dinner time/bedtime.
ALL OF THAT SAID, he was fine with the adjustment... it didn't seem to bother him at all, and in fact, he loved it. from the first full day, he was well adjusted, ate lunch, napped without any issues, and has continued sleeping great at home, too.
my absolute favourite part of the day is 4pm when we go and pick him up. he's so excited to see us and i'm so so so glad to see him after not being with him all day. he runs to the door, or to the fence if they are outside and calls out "mama", "mama" and he laughs and excitedly shrieks, and its so fun to watch.
theo knows the name of all his teachers, and most of the students in his class. he tells us on the way home what he played with, and who he helped throughout the day. the only place so far he's peed in the potty was at school, and he is always open to trying new things there in a way that he resists sometimes at home. theo is now able to nap in different places, like his grandparents, partially because of the structure we, and the school, have around naptimes.
and most importantly, he is happy, and well adjusted. he is helpful and adaptable. he is engaged in the learning and always participates, according to his teachers, and this is more than we could have asked for in terms of what we wanted out of the child care we chose for him.
the school gives us progress reports a few times a year, and they have two parent teacher interviews, and this is so helpful to gauge how he's doing overall, beyond just day to day communication.
i actually don't think i have any cons of the school, LITERALLY THE ONLY ONE, is that we are moving, so the commute is going to be hard for a few months until the summer. we will see how it goes.
if you are considering montessori school, i saved some stories as a highlight on my instagram page over at @missmrsmama_ and you can see it all there :)
i hope this was helpful! if you have any questions, feel free to connect via instagram and we can chat further!