Why are Montessori schools so expensive? And do they offer affordable rates?
There has been a lot of research on Early Childhood Education (ECE) in Singapore and other countries in the world. It has been prompted by the various studies confirming that children learn differently and have different levels of understanding. Therefore, it makes sense that there should exist a number of education theories and varying methods that teachers can apply in classrooms.
What is a Montessori method?
One of those popular ways is the Montessori Method, which was developed in 1907 by Maria Montessori. It is a specific child-centred method of teaching that involves child-led activities to encourage independence among pupils. There are numerous Montessori schools in Singapore and across the world. And many Singaporean have to come into terms with the costly fees charged at Montessori schools to pay for their toddlers to get educated in this method. In real figures, a parent has to part with between S$4000 to S$3,000 per month.
Dr Montessori had a unique belief that kids learn best when they choose what to study and that philosophy is what is practised in all Montessori classrooms today. The Montessori style involves large spaces divided into various activity zones to help children engage in exploration rather than a traditional classroom stuffed with desks. Textbooks are there to facilitate learning, different discovery areas, experimentation spaces and materials to promote hands-on learning, which often resembles building blocks, puzzles, clay and other natural and physical materials.
Real Montessori schools in Singapore
Montessori does not need endorsement for its method to be used, as it is an international system. This means that any school can claim to use the technique. It is the same reason why most Singapore schools are so expensive. However, a MOE study found that many preschools claiming to be using specific teaching methodologies like the Montessori method rarely manage to do so due to the high pressure to prepare the kids for primary education. It is also an apparent fact that their teachers are not well-trained on the method which means that they may not deliver fully what is required of the system.
The schools in Singapore claiming to use the Montessori style are particularly expensive. This is because they may not be exactly using the Montessori method but may have incorporated other curriculums similar to Montessori which are similarly expensive. Well, the rule of the thumb is—they are not true Montessori schools. It should be noted that kids who are enrolled in these schools have to work extra than other Montessori based kids.
This is because the schools have to succumb to pressures from parents demanding that children be prepared for primary school which forces the teachers to conduct short Montessori style lessons and spend the rest of the day conducting academic lessons. Note that this is at complete odds with the vision of Montessori’s approach which strictly forbids against tests and grading.
Why are Montessori schools so expensive?
Any Montessori school in any country including Singapore is among the most expensive schools you will come across, regardless of age. Well, there are a few reasons for the hike in fees one being the quality of teachers Montessori hires. Montessori school teachers are not ordinary teachers who have gone through any formal training in any college or university.
These are teachers who are specially trained to read pupils and not just mechanically rattle off similar lessons day in, day out throughout the year. Instead, they’re trained to assess the children and facilitate the application of a unique method specifically meant for the child based on his or her individual needs and age. In other words, a Montessori teacher has a more personal approach to the pupils and has to understand each child’s strengths and weaknesses. You can already tell that these extraordinary teachers cannot be paid a few coins and that their salaries are expected to be higher than other regular teachers in other schools.
Montessori classrooms are not those with plain desks and a few charts on the wall but more spacious, and specially designed to involve the pupils in practical studies using materials and experiments. Therefore, these classrooms can be expensive to build, stock and maintain as the material can be expensive and vulnerable when being used by kids.
Are there affordable Montessori schools in Singapore?
Probably one of the most asked questions in Singapore is the availability of affordable Montessori schools in the country. Well, as we mentioned above, some schools claim to use the Montessori system but in real sense do not. These schools are usually relatively cheaper than original Montessori schools. That is why it is prudent, that you first seek the schools with the most reasonable rates. If you go for the cheapest one available, you may not be doing any good to your child. In fact, you may be hurting his mind.
Benefits of enrolling your child in a Montessori School
One obvious thing that will capture your eyes the moment you visit a Montessori school is the beauty. Colourful paintings, as well as natural light and space, are just some of the priorities in all classrooms.
“Creating a beautiful and accessible environment is of paramount importance, as children direct their own learning with the help of meticulously designed learning aids,” — Karen Ricks, Founder of international Montessori school in Japan.
Karen Ricks explains that the use of these materials helps learners to relate theoretical learning to practical learning and understanding of vocabulary when repeated or seen every day. The independently used material provides the learners with the chance to develop coordination and concentration in addition to the standard typical traditional academic system.
Children are attracted to do what other children are doing, and Montessori takes advantage of that and capitalizes on grouping the kids of varying ages together in similar learning environment. Mixed age grouping intends to foster peer-to-peer learning an also allow the children to learn from each other and develop life skills such as self-esteem, acceptance and inclusion.