Before deciding to start a school in my home I had many questions, including whether or not I could make enough money. After checking the state rules and restrictions, I discovered that I indeed would be able to earn money from this endeavor, and I was relieved. Although Montessori principles encourage a larger child:teacher ratio, given the size of my home, as well as state guidelines regarding the ratio, I knew I would only be able to accept a small number of children. This was an issue for me for employment purposes for sure, but I also had to explore it in terms of the Montessori philosophy.
I have to admit, although I have seen how a larger group of children is a benefit to the children, and I would advocate for it under the right circumstances, I have also been witness to the heavy burden placed on teachers as a result of having a large number of children assigned to her class. This was part of my burden as a Montessori teacher. Just as well as good habits and friendly relationships can be formed through interactions with a large class, bad habits and unhealthy relationships seemed as likely to form in a classroom that is not yet settled and on the path to normalization. It takes a strong teacher with strong administrative support to achieve such a balance, and in my experience at large schools so far, this is a rarity. It was tough to justify such a large ratio when the environment simply was not supportive of it.
Instead, I look forward to starting a small school and having more of a “family” atmosphere here. Even though the numbers will be small, the age ranges will still be varied, and the children will still have many lessons to teach to each other and to learn from each other on a daily basis. In addition to this, more expansive social experiences can be provided in other ways, such as by joining up with other local home school programs at a park or other local event. Education would not have to take place exclusively in the home, or exclusively with the one group of children I would have at any one time. There will certainly be many opportunities for socializing and learning outside of the home environment, for myself and for the children, and I look forward to exploring those outlets.