Parent demand drives growth in Montessori programs

Erin Richards:

When Katy Van Schyndle toured Fernwood Montessori last winter as a potential school for her daughter, she was impressed by how many children prompted at random could clearly explain their work to a bunch of strangers.

Van Schyndle thought her daughter, an independent learner at age 3, could thrive in that environment.

But when Van Schyndle and her husband decided instead to apply for a spot in Fernwood’s 4-year-old class, Norah Van Schyndle wound up on a wait list. By August, she and more than 130 other 4-year-olds across the city were waiting for spots in the district’s increasingly popular Montessori programs.

Competition was even stiffer at the 3-year-old level, where 278 children sat on a combined wait list for five district Montessori schools this August, according to Milwaukee Public Schools.