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Montessori: You did what today?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Dd (5) is in her first year of Montessori. She'll often start explaining excitedly about a lesson she had that day and most of the time it makes sense. Sometimes, though, her descriptions are lacking and I can't figure out exactly what it is she's doing ("...and you take the blue stick thing and put it under the cup with the red thing on it..."). Or I'll understand what she's doing but I'm not sure why.

I get the general Montessori philosophy and purpose of most of the lessons, but I need a little more information. Is there a website where I can look up the different "works" she does and maybe see photos of the materials, read a description of the activity or an explanation of the motivation behind it? I have read a few books, but they're not exhaustive.

Thanks for any information you can provide!
post #2 of 9
ooooh! You'd MD...I'm looking at montessori schools right now...where does your child go? How do you like it?

I hope one of the experienced montessori moms can help.
post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 
She's at the Montessori School of Westminster. We like it and she loves it. I haven't had any experience with other Montessori schools, so I can't really compare, but it's definitely VERY Montessori. The Headmistress has been there for a long time and is very devoted to what is best for the kids and to making it a true Montessori school.

I've heard good things about The Montessori School in, I think, Towson?
post #4 of 9
Lutherville, I think. Their satellite in Ellicott City did not impress me that much...in my class observation she was doing a lot more "directing" than I have seen in some other montessori classrooms...but it was probably just that teacher. The main school sounds very nice. That is good to know about Westminster...I have friends that just moved there with a new baby.

post #5 of 9

Maybe I can help...

I am a Montessori teacher who is currently home with my ds (15 months old). I am trained at the primary (2 1/2 - 6+ years old) and elementary (6 - 12 years old) level through the Association Montessori Internationale. My dh and I (he is also a Montessori teacher) will be starting a home-based Montessori school this fall.

We love to talk to parents and others about Montessori. I've been involved for almost 12 years and am still so excited about it. Now that we have our own dc it is even more exciting!

We have an e-newsletter. I don't know if I'm allowed to post a link to it here, but please pm me for a link. We also have a website with lots of info, and more to come.

Also, please just feel free to ask any questions on this thread - I'll try to check it soon. I'd love to explain what your dd is doing at her school!

The NAMTA website posted by Clarity is also a great resource.

Good luck!
post #6 of 9

Oh, and I wanted to add...

That Clarity is right in being concerned about a teacher doing too much "directing" - a Montessori teacher should be hard to spot in the classroom. She/he should definitely be (at least usually) a background figure.
post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thank you both for your replies and information!

The longer dd is in Montessori the more I realize how little I actually know! The general information sites look like they'll be helpful. I feel like I do have the basic ideas down (I was an elementary teacher for a bit and studied about Montessori) but sometimes I wonder what the reason is behind a particular work she describes (knowing, of course, that there is a good one!).

So, Ellen, I may just be sending a few questions your way, if you don't mind! How exciting for you and your dh to start a school - and how lucky for your ds!

One thing we've been thinking about is whether dd will stay in the primary or move up to lower elementary next year. She turned 5 in December, so will be 5 yrs, 9 mos when school begins next fall. Her directress indicated that by the end of this year she would have what she needs to move up, but wondered what our thoughts were.

I feel strongly that another year in primary can't possibly be a bad thing ... why rush? This is her first year in any kind of school situation so the social development could use another year before she must contend with much older kids. She's not so advanced that she will be bored to distraction, I wouldn't think. Perhaps in a different school, but wouldn't she be able to be challenged within the primary environment? She seems to be doing well with the "academic" side of things - she's reading like a madwoman! This is the only reservation I have... that she wouldn't be challenged enough. We will, of course, talk with her directress about this, but it would be good to have some objective input as well.

So, while I know that other, simpler questions will arise, this is the one thing that has been on my mind of late. Any insight you may have is greatly appreciated!
post #8 of 9
Well, whether to move a child up to lower elementary or leave them in the primary another year should be based on what plane of development she is in.

Montessori describes development in terms of "planes." The ages for each plane are just guidelines, each child is different.

0 - 6: first plane. A time of rapid growth and development. During this plane the child absorbs the culture of the people around them - she called this period the "absorbent mind" because children didn't just "learn," but their experiences became a part of them. The most obvious example is language acquisition. A small child does not learn their native language the same way that an older child or an adult would learn a second language - The learning of the native language during the first years of life forms the way the child thinks and organizes information. This is the time when the child creates her/himself.

6 - 12: second plane. A time of consolidation. The age of justice. The child works to become part of the greater group/culture (friends, clubs, extended family, etc.) The child is interested in collaboration with peers. This is a time of great physical stamina and intellectual work.

This is a very barebones explanation of the first two planes. Some physical signs of the emerging second plane: losing milk teeth, lengthening of the body (trimmer looking), very interested in social situations and true collaboration (not just working next to someone, but actually working together to solve a problem).

Whether or not to move to elementary depends on what plane of development your child is in, not on how they are doing academically. The primary class (the way I was trained through AMI) has academics suitable for about grade 2+. We learned how to do grammar, fractions, etc. in the event that we had children ready for these things, yet still in the first plane of development.

If a child is in the second plane of development, regardless of their academic ability, they should be in the elementary where the social situation is more suitable for their plane of development.

Some schools use academics to determine placement. I think that this is tragedy and is not in keeping with Montessori philosophy. A child who cannot read, but is truly in the second plane of development is not served in the primary class. A child who can do advanced work, yet is still in the first plane of development struggles in the elementary class. Primary is the place for them.

I'm sorry to go on so much. Basically, if you feel that your child is best served in the primary class another year, you are probably right. I have found few children under six who were really ready for the more lively elementary class. Does your school offer mid-year transfers? Perhaps your child could spend the first part of the year in primary and then move up. I have had children stay in primary until they were seven. It is unusual to find a parent like you - willing to let the child stay in primary. Unfortunately, many parents will pressure the school to move a very young child to the elementary class once they have achieved a notable level of academic ability. It is good that you are concerned about your child as a person, not as an academic entity!

I don't know if this answers your question - if not please feel free to inquire more.

Oh, about the challenge question - will she be challenged if she stays another year? I touched on it above, but there is so much work that she could do in primary! If you don't get satisfactory information from her teacher, let me know. I can give you a list of wonderful advanced academic things that were in my primary training. I'm sure, though, that her teacher can do these things with your dd. Music, geography, math, grammar, sentence analysis, advanced practical life (cooking, etc.).

Good luck!
edited for clarity
post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thank you so so much, Ellen for your reply!

I will investigate further the planes of development that you mentioned. She seems to be in between, but I'll do some reading. My feeling is that she just really isn't quite ready for the whole social society thing that comes with older kids, though I think she'd do fine - why not just wait and make it an easier transition. Plus it's a whole day, instead of half, so there's that part of it.

And I had to laught about losing milk teeth - she is SO ready to lose some teeth and shows absolutely NO signs of it. She tells me every day that one of her teeth is loose. Wishful thinking!

I had a feeling that it must be built into the curriculum/training of Montessori to provide challenging work to the child who is "advanced" in the primary (or any) class. It just seemed to be all part of the philosophy. Thanks for clarifying that.

I'm sure that in my reading I will come up with other questions. Your post has given me a good starting point and has also provided the needed information to speak with her teacher.

Thanks again!
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