San Jose Montessori Preschool: Is It Right For Your Child?
There are many different types of preschools available. In our area, you can find everything from a Montessori preschool in San Jose to religious preschools, Waldorf schools and schools that incorporate several different philosophies. Deciding which one is best for your child can be tricky, so take a look at the following preschool types to determine what style is a good fit for your child’s needs.
You’ll see many a Montessori preschool in San Jose and Mountain View, and some of these schools adhere strictly to the Montessori philosophy, while others only use some of the elements of Montessori.
The Montessori philosophy and curriculum was developed by Maria Montessori in the early 20th century. This is a child-centered model of education, where the child chooses their own activities, rather than having the teacher lead the class and select the activities. However, the activities provided are selected carefully to correspond with the age and development of the child.
Additionally, Montessori classrooms are meant to be quite orderly and neat, and the students are expected to clean up after an activity as well as taking part in activities such as sweeping, dusting and general clean-up after lunchtime, etc. Montessori believed that children had an innate desire to help and this purposeful work would foster independence and better prepare children for adulthood.
Furthermore, one of Montessori’s goals was to help children communicate with each other, work collaboratively and find positive ways to resolve conflict. She also stressed the importance of politeness and respect. Teachers are to model respectful and kind behavior to each other as well as to students, thus setting a tone of kindness and acceptance.
People often mistakenly believe that a Waldorf school would be quite similar to a Montessori preschool in San Jose. There are some similarities, as both tend to be child-centered, but where Montessori focuses more on real-life activities, the Waldorf encourages imaginative play.
Playing pretend, so to speak, is not part of the Montessori experience, which focuses on practical skills. Waldorf educators focus far less on academic development, and more on areas such as art and music and play. However, it’s structured, and each day follows a predictable routine, as the Waldorf philosophy stresses the idea that children prosper and feel safe in environments where they know what to expect. Both Montessori and Waldorf preschools typically do not include technology in the curriculum.
STEM & STEAM
It seems like everywhere you go, you hear a lot about STEM-based education. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, and as we live in the center of the tech world, it’s easy to understand why we want to encourage young learners to explore these crucial areas.
At our preschool, we take it one step further, and use many STEAM-based lesson plans. STEAM is simply STEM with “Art” added into the curriculum. There have been countless studies to show the benefits of art, music and drama for students. Artistic activities provide children with a creative outlet that encourages innovative thinking, which then can be applied back into the other components of STEAM.
It has often been said that there are two types of preschools – academic preschools and play-based preschools. With a play-based preschool, which is much different from a Montessori preschool in San Jose, it would be a mistake to assume that there is no learning going on.
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Students are learning, but the focus is more on socialization and getting students used to the idea of school rather than jump-starting their academic skills. Some parents prefer a less academic and more welcoming and nurturing style of preschool. We believe that there should be a healthy mix of academics and play, and, if surrounded by a nurturing environment, children can excel both socially and academically. Basically, we believe that if school is fun and interesting and students feel welcome and safe, they are going enjoy their preschool experience.
This sounds just like a town in Italy, and it is, but it’s also an educational philosophy. This style of education developed in a city in Italy after World War II. This type of preschool will have no set curriculum or lesson plans. Typically, the day is student-led with the children deciding what they wish to learn and how they wish to learn it.
While a Montessori preschool in San Jose will be child-centered as well, there are very specific activities in a Montessori classroom, carefully designed to help students attain a specific skill. In a Reggio Emilia classroom, a student “lesson” might begin with the student asking a question about a flower. Rather than answering the question directly, the teacher might ask the student what they think and what other students think.
This could lead an activity session where some children might draw pictures of a flower, while others might decide to write a song about flowers and others might want to create a dance about flowers or perhaps head outside for a nature walk and view flowers in their natural environment.
A language immersion preschool is precisely what it sounds like. Students are immersed in a language other than English throughout the day. The idea is that young children learn second languages more easily than older children, and immersing them in this new language builds fluency more quickly than spending half of the day learning Spanish or Mandarin or French or something else.
There are several public schools in the San Jose Unified School District that provide two-way bilingual immersion programs that teach Spanish and English. If this is something important to your family, you might consider a language-immersion preschool to get a jump start into the language they will be immersed in during their elementary, middle and high school years.
At Precious Moments Preschool, we see value in several of these philosophies or teaching styles, and have designed a curriculum that incorporates elements of Montessori as well as providing STEAM-based activities and projects. We also believe in the power of imaginative play, as it can foster creativity as well as improving social skills, language development and even critical thinking skills.
Rather than simply focusing on one single teaching style, our goal is to provide curriculum that engages students and sparks that love of learning that will make them enthusiastic students for years to come. This is their first school experience, so it needs to be something truly valuable.
While curriculum and play are part of the package, we also take a mindful approach to nutrition. We serve balanced, healthy meals filled with organic ingredients. You can view our monthly menus under the Nutrition & Enriched Programs tab on our homepage. This section also provides information about typical daily schedules as well as goals for our students based upon age.
Whether you want a Montessori preschool in San Jose, a STEM or STEAM preschool or perhaps just a safe and meaningful place for your child to spend their days, we hope you will take a look at Precious Moments Preschool. To learn more about our preschool, simply click on the green Book a Tour tab on our homepage and we will set up a time for you to visit and learn more about our programs for children ages 2 to 6.