What are your hours for care?
The operating hours for Estrellitas Montessori program are 8am to 6pm Monday through Friday. Before Care is available from 7:30am to 8:00am. Although Before Care is included in the price of tuition, families are required to register for this service at the time of enrollment and their children need to be picked up by 5:30pm. We do not offer part time enrollment for mornings only or less than five days a week. Consistency for our students is a key to their sense of security and developmental progress. Our calendar for the 2019-2020 School year can be found here.
What is the child-adult ratio?
We operate within the ratios set by the American Montessori Society below. Ratios are higher than those found in daycares or child development centers. This is a key component to Montessori education that allows less reliance on teachers and more self-care and cooperation among children. Our ratios based on age groups are as follows:
Birth to 18 months: 4:1
18 – 36 months: 6:1
2.5 – 6 years: 8:1
*If the full age range is not enrolled, we will have a lower ratio to meet the developmental needs of younger children. For instance, with all 2.5 and three year olds in our oldest classroom, we have a 6:1 ratio until the full spectrum is met.
How is this different than a daycare center?
Becoming a Montessori School is an indication of the intention behind the curriculum and methodology our program follows. The Montessori philosophy began with Dr. Maria Montessori in Italy over a hundred years ago and is a worldwide method of educating children that has gained substantial recognition as a respectful, natural means to educating young people. It is based on the understanding that every child is driven to create himself at his own pace without needing external motivation. We create carefully prepared environments to assist the child in that process.
It also means that we do not offer drop-in care as needed, but rather offer a consistent program with our students’ best interests in mind, not only those of their parents. We are more than child care and ask that families recognize our high expectations for their participation in our program.
How often will my child get outdoors?
Children at Estrellitas enjoy the outdoors twice a day. Aside from our own outdoor play area on school grounds, we take trips to Hamilton Park or nearby Rock Creek Park while walking on a rope for security. If weather allows, we stay out for an hour at a time.
What does Spanish Immersion really mean?
We are not a bilingual program- we offer a 100% Spanish immersive environment. Spanish immersion means that Estrellitas is a setting where children will learn Spanish in the most effective way possible: naturally. Through considerations in environment, materials and teacher-child interaction we have designed the program to make Spanish a part of daily life rather than a lesson to be taught. Interestingly, this approach fits organically with the Montessori approach--where learning is guided and nurtured rather than instructed.
Is your building safe?
Yes. Our doors are safeguarded by keycode locks and remain closed at all times of day to limit access to our families and staff only. Parents receive this code upon enrollment and the code is changed periodically.
Where is Estrellitas certified?
The American Montessori Society granted Estrellitas Montessori the title of “Full Member School,” a title that proves Estrellitas holds a Montessori administrator or teacher credential and scores a requisite number of points based on related professional development and work experience. Estrellitas Montessori School is not pursuing accreditation by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Instead our School has taken its first steps to achieve the American Montessori Society accreditation. While pedagogically we are in line with Montessori methods we expect full certification to be a three to five-year process.
What training do you require for teachers?
Our teachers are experienced early childhood educators. Our lead teachers are trained by MACTE (Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education) approved Montessori teacher training programs and are either AMS or AMI certified, a level now recognized on the same level as a Master's degree. Many of our assistants hold Child Development Associate certificates and several of our teachers have more advanced degrees in the field of early childhood education and Montessori studies. All participate in ongoing professional development training, receiving at least 18 hours of training per year. All staff are CPR/First Aid certified, renewing their training in their language of choice as necessary to remain valid.
What happens after I submit an application?
We review available spots according to date applied and your child’s age. Your placement on the waitlist does not give much indication of how long it will be before we have availability since our enrolled ages vary quite widely. Once we determine a spot is available, we will send you a welcome letter requesting that you confirm your registration through a written intention of enrollment, a one-time non-refundable Registration fee, and the enrollment package.