If you’re like me, and here’s hoping you’re not in this situation, you’ve suddenly realized that it’s time to think about sending your first child to preschool… No, wait– it’s past time to get your child registered for preschool. Don’t panic, though. There’s still space available in some wonderful Montessori programs in the area. Otherwise, keep this list for the following year, as Montessori education is so worth checking out for your kids.
Garden Montessori is a converted house and yard, located in a residential Danville neighborhood, not far from downtown and the freeway. The school has a lovely garden out back where kids can plant vegetables and flowers for the butterflies, and spend time with the resident bunny—Nibble. Garden School focuses on teaching a whole world viewpoint– learning about our Earth, continent by continent, through pictures, sampling food and looking at objects from different cultures. My daughter attends Garden School, and it could not have been a more perfect fit, in terms of her personality and the school’s philosophy and curriculum. She has enjoyed following her five senses through North America and Africa— listening to rock and roll, and African drums and tasting snacks from both continents. She learned a few songs in French for the unit on Europe, and even got to sing them in the school’s Spring concert. Garden School emphasizes the Montessori philosophy, while also preparing kids for kindergarten with longer circle times. This year, the children also explored various art concepts and master painters, learning about shapes from Joan Miro, and action painting from Jackson Pollack (don’t try this at home).
While the morning class is full, the afternoon still has spots available, and for a child who doesn’t nap (like mine who gave hers up within days of her third birthday) an afternoon preschool class can open up a whole world of possibilities, including not having to do the yell-and-hustle morning routine to get out the door, and the chance of lunch out with friends. When was the last time you did that?
Starlight Montessori in downtown Danville has both a preschool program and a toddler program for ages 18 months- 3 years. The toddler program focuses on promoting a love of learning and respect for the environment and each other. Their goal is to help young children begin to gain a sense of confidence and independence and being able to concentrate for longer periods of time—no small feat for someone at that age. Another huge plus to a toddler program like that at Starlight is promoting potty independence—something every mother could use a bit of assistance with. After all, the motivation to go because all your friends are doing it is much higher than it is because mom told you to go. Spots are still available in the two or three day a week toddler program.
Children’s House is their preschool— the ages 3-6 program named after Maria Montessori’s original school in early 1900’s Rome. Concordia School has two campuses—one in Concord and another serving the Pleasant Hill/Martinez area. And if you love Montessori schools as much as I do, then you’ll be excited to know that Concordia also offers a Junior Elementary Program (ages 6-9) and Advanced Elementary Program (ages 9-12). Child care is offered year-round, outside of the school calendar, during winter, spring and summer breaks at additional cost, which is great if you need coverage and don’t want to switch your child out of school to a different program.
Like most preschools (and the public schools) they start taking sign-ups for the following year in January and February, but will admit children throughout the year as space opens up. Concordia School still has spaces left for two-year olds, and while the toddlers share the same classroom with the preschoolers, they do have their own space as well, which follows the Montessori philosophy of integrating kids of different ages.
Diablo Valley Montessori
Diablo Valley Montessori in Lafayette offers a variety of programs for different age levels and time schedules, including a toddler program, preschool and after care or full day program.
Diablo Valley still has a few openings in the two-year old/toddler program for full days and half days. Their summer program is full.
Other Montessori schools in the East Bay and Tri-Valley area include:
Valley Montessori in Livermore offers programs from the toddler level all the way through the eighth grade, in addition to art, music, Spanish and before and after school care programs.
Myrtle Farm Montessori
Located in Concord, Myrtle Farm is a preschool Montessori program, set on an actual working farm. Children help on the farm according to the seasons, picking and cooking with apples in the fall, preparing the soil for crops in the winter and celebrating spring as the trees begin to bloom, the chickens begin laying eggs and the farm’s goats give birth.
Eagle Peak Montessori
Eagle Peak Montessori in Walnut Creek does not have a preschool program, but is a California charter school for kids in the first through eighth grades. It is open to the public and admission-free, but gives priority to those living in the Mt. Diablo School District. Admission is through application and yearly lottery. I’m setting my sights ahead a few years, hoping we can nail this option for elementary school, as it’s the only tuition-free Montessori option I can find in the area.
For more on Montessori, check out: