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What I want from Montessori - new questions posts #5/7

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by spedteacher30 View Post
I guess then, the question to me would be, "What are you trying to get out of his education?"

We're probably the only parents in our son's class who don't quiz the teachers on his academic progress during conferences. We ask about what he enjoys, and his social interactions, because we have faith that he will learn everything he is expected to learn. it might be on his own timetable, but it is obvious to us that he can learn and that he enjoys learning.

We figure that the Montessori approach is giving him a tremendous luxury: the luxury of time, of space and of opportunity. He is only ahead or behind if we compare him to other children. As long as he's at a Montessori school, he won't be compared to other children, so he's developing on his own schedule.

He probably could be pushed to do some things that he is academically ready for (like reading) but he is not yet emotionally ready for them (he tells us, "I can read, but i don't want to because I want you to read the books to me!") I am sure at some point, he will be pushed or led a little more than right now, but it seems to me we owe all of our children at least a few years of school where they aren't compared to others, where they aren't pushed to meet standards, and where they are free to explore and develop their own interests based on their own timetable.
What I want from his education is for him to be developing his skills - from independent choice-making to socializing to academics, or any one of the above. He has a way of getting people to believe that he can't do things for himself - from putting his coat and shoes on to reading. (If you ever watched the sitcom Just Shoot Me , my mom and I lovingly refer to him as "Donny" to each other - Donny was Elliot's brother who pretended to be brain damaged for 15 years and got people to give him things and chew his food). I don't stop doing some things just because he's gained a skill - I still read him stories nightly and I still help him with the zipper on his coat, if he wants it.

With Math, I feel comfortable now that I have a better understanding of the Montessori progression. My concerns are that he doesn't seem to be developing many of the skills I listed (that I can see from my viewpoint). I'm told that he gets off-task during his works and doesn't focus (this is a kid whose teacher last year - different school - told me he became hyper-focused during his works), he needs a lot of guidance to make choices, still doesn't consistently sit on line without disrupting (this has always been an issue for him), has been working on 3-letter moveable alphabet with objects for months at school (he's on "short u" finally) and tells my mom that he's "avoiding the hard words" - when he can read level 2 readers to me at home (with very little assistance).

These are the reasons I chose Montessori. I'm not trying to push him or compare him unduly. He is a very capable child, and he certainly can learn. I just don't want him to grow into a life of underachieving, and until I find a better way or he finds that intrinsic motivation, I think someone needs to keep an expectation commensurate with his abilitiy.
post #2 of 17
I've always thought that Montessori was a great choice to teach kids' intrinsic motivation, concentration and self-evaluation. We figure that the skills of reading and math are in some ways secondary--particularly at ages 3-6 or so. We want him to learn confidence, problem-solving, persistance, concentration, independence, etc.

The skills will come easily once the rest of the foundation is in place. It sounds to me like your son is still learning the foundational learning attributes, and once he has those down, he'll storm full speed ahead with the skills. If he doesn't have the confidence to try the longer words yet, he'll get there soon, and get there faster if everyone ignores the reading skills for now. Just 10 or 15 years ago, we didn't expect a kid to be able to read a word at the start of 1st grade (so age 5.5-6.5) but now, we want them reading by the middle of kindergarten (age 5).

the last thing you want to do is make learning "schooly" things a power struggle, because the kid will win every time.
post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 
Right! It think Montessori seems like a great choice to teach kids intrinsic motivation, concentration, and self-evaluation also. I realize he started Montessori late, and he's only 1-1/2 years in. I've really never been a drill seargent kind of parent in terms of academics, and I've for the most part stayed out of it especially since he started Montessori. Usually, I spend the most time worrying about the social piece. I know that if he gets bored, though, he will make his own entertainment and get off-task, which is why I'm looking more closely at his levels right now.

And I understand that intrinsic motivation, indpendence, etc. are not developed overnight, but I'm seeing very little progress from where he used to be, at this point, and I'm getting frustrated. I remind myself daily that between changing schools and gaining a sister, things in his world are a little shaken up. (And unfortunately, I am guessing he'll have to change schools again next year, because $6000 is just going to be too much with a baby in daycare also.) But how long should we "expect" it to take for a child to start developing those skills? (I can hear Matt's coy response now! )

I'm sorry. Thank you for reading this ramble - I am obviously frustrated with myself and my ds. I want to choose the right learning environment for my child, and I'm feeling like I don't know what that is anymore, which is a huge letdown because I thought Montessori would be perfect. Maybe it still is and I just need to step back and trust.
post #4 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rose-Roget View Post
What I want from his education is for him to be developing his skills - from independent choice-making to socializing to academics, or any one of the above. He has a way of getting people to believe that he can't do things for himself - from putting his coat and shoes on to reading.
My concerns are that he doesn't seem to be developing many of the skills I listed (that I can see from my viewpoint). I'm told that he gets off-task during his works and doesn't focus (this is a kid whose teacher last year - different school - told me he became hyper-focused during his works), he needs a lot of guidance to make choices, still doesn't consistently sit on line without disrupting (this has always been an issue for him), has been working on 3-letter moveable alphabet with objects for months at school (he's on "short u" finally) and tells my mom that he's "avoiding the hard words" - when he can read level 2 readers to me at home (with very little assistance).

These are the reasons I chose Montessori. I'm not trying to push him or compare him unduly. He is a very capable child, and he certainly can learn. I just don't want him to grow into a life of underachieving, and until I find a better way or he finds that intrinsic motivation, I think someone needs to keep an expectation commensurate with his abilitiy.
Montessori writes a lot about what she calls "the spiritual preparation of the teacher," but the advice she gives teachers hold true for parents as well. She says that "the Montessori teacher is always looking for the child who is not there yet... she sees man as he ought to be: the worker who never tires, because what drives him on is a perennial enthusiasm. She sees one who seeks out the greatest efforts because his constant aspiration is to make himself superior to difficulties; he is a person who really tries to help the weak, because in his heart is true charity and he knows what is meant by respect for others, and that respect for a person's efforts is the water that nourishes the roots of his soul. In the possession of these characteristics, she will recognize the true child, who is the father of man."

I know that when you hear that your child is being disruptive at line time, can't choose his own work, or is still working on the Moveable Alphabet, it can be hard, but try to look past it and see the potential that lies within (hopefully, his guide does).

Two other thoughts:
First, based upon your description of your son, it sounds like Montessori is absolutely the right environment for him. It will encourage his independence and initiative, and should not hinder his development by providing unnecessary assistance.

Second, I certainly understand the pressure that parents (and teachers) feel about ensuring children are progressing in "academic" work (reading, writing, artithmetic), and that it can be really easy to be somewhat myopic about judging a school (and even a student) on the basis of these skills. From your description though, it sounds like your son's "challenging work" right now is participating in the work cycle (choosing work independently, completing work independently, putting the lesson back where it goes, and taking initiative and interest in perservering). I know that it can be frusterating to feel like he isn't making the "academic" gains that you want to see, and that he might even appear to be regressing, but I assure you that it is probably not the case. The guide is probably trying to intervene as little as possible until he learns to participate in the work cycle and shows more self-direction. That will happen in time- but only if someone doesn't rush in and provide that direction for him (concentration and perserverence are like muscles they only develop through repeated use, and no one can "make" another person concentrate). It sounds like this is a big change for him, from an environment where he probably didn't have to be very self-directed (someone was alsways making the choices and judgments for him). During the first few months of school, you might see him doing some "easier" works, because the guide is waiting for that moment where he is able to choose something on his own and really concentrate and polarize his attention on it (and, initially, it doesn't matter what the lesson is, so long as he chooses it). Once concentration is established, then will come perserverence.
For children who began in a Montessori classroom, this happens in the first year (generally through use of the practical life activities), so the second year is really a blossoming (they have the character development to really make amazing academic gains); for your son, it's a little backwards. But, it will happen in it's own time and it really is more important that he develop the ability to concentrate deeply and perservere in his tasks, than it is that he move on from the Moveable Alphabet, because those skills and fundamental attitudes toward learning will serve him for the rest of his life. Every time, you find yourself thinking that maybe the guide should just "push him" a little more, or set higher expectations, remind yourself that it is a well documented fact that children perform better, perservere at a task longer, report higher enjoyment of it (and willingness to do more of it), and develop more self-confidence when they choose it for themself. So, if the end goal is to have a child who loves learning, or loves reading, it really behooves you to be patient and let him come to it himself (to entice, not to force).

Of course, that doesn't mean that your son can't be getting new presentations and moving on academically (although it honestly sounds to me like he is doing very well and that the guides are making good decisions about what to present), but I think it is important to follow the child and to remember that his "important" work right now is not acquiring new knowledge so much as it is constructing his character (he is transforming himself through work- the process is more important than the conceptual knowledge).

Finally, remember that children don't generally acquire habits or knowledge by gradual accretion (so it can be hard to "see" progress). You can have children who just don't understand something for days on end (or always forget to put their lesson away) and then one day, like magic, it just clicks and it is a part of them forever.

To me, his comment about "avoiding the hard works" makes me think that he is probably a very sensitive child who might fear really trying something challenging because he is worried about not being successful (and that being successful is so important to him that it has compromised his ability to take risks). If he says that again, it might be worth having a conversation about the fact that what is important is doing one's best. The Montessori environment is great for children who have these worries (often, gifted and advanced children in particular are so used to being the recipient of praise that it really adds to their fear of failure), because it takes such a friendly attitude toward mistakes (the materials are self-correcting so the child can engage and learn from it without being afraid of error or correction, and the guide makes a point of not correcting the child or interfering with their natural learning process).

Don't get frusterated. Parenting and teaching aren't for the faint of heart
post #5 of 17
Thread Starter 
I appreciate all of these responses - I was just re-reading them. When I asked ds about school today, he told me he did the book area and the brown stairs. After some questioning, I realized he'd not spent any real time with either work, so I asked what else he did, to which he replied, "Oh, I walked around the room and said, 'I don't know what to do'." (At least he's honest! ) Realizing that he is likely overwhelmed at the number of choices (he's very analytical at times and can have a hard time making choices among "Do you want milk or water with dinner?" only to answer "Both"), I asked how his teachers respond when he says that. He says they say, "Well, why don't you do ___." But I don't really see that as scaffolding his choice-making skills. I could see narrowing from all the choices in the room to a few to see if he will do that more easily. So this brings me to more quesions:

How does M. teach those qualities of choice making, intrinsic motivation, perseverence, focus, etc.?? What specific things would an M. teacher do to help promote these qualities? Is it just providing the opportunity and waiting for maturity to kick in? Also, I understand the idea of developing these qualities and not focussing on the academics, but can't academics and those intrinsic qualities be worked on at the same time - in fact, shouldn't they? I have a hard time motivating myself to concentrate on busy-work, just because that's the process (yes, I can do it because I have an understanding of the why and the outcome), but if a child is working on something that's too easy (leading to boredom), how is that developing a love for persevering, self-motivation, concentration, etc.? I see it as cyclical - if he's not challenged enough, then he's not motivated to do those other things, which gets him off-task and acting out, which impairs his social relationships and makes the teachers view him as younger, which leads them to continuing lower level works. Or do I misunderstand?
post #6 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rose-Roget View Post
I appreciate all of these responses - I was just re-reading them. When I asked ds about school today, he told me he did the book area and the brown stairs. After some questioning, I realized he'd not spent any real time with either work, so I asked what else he did, to which he replied, "Oh, I walked around the room and said, 'I don't know what to do'." (At least he's honest! ) Realizing that he is likely overwhelmed at the number of choices (he's very analytical at times and can have a hard time making choices among "Do you want milk or water with dinner?" only to answer "Both"), I asked how his teachers respond when he says that. He says they say, "Well, why don't you do ___." But I don't really see that as scaffolding his choice-making skills. I could see narrowing from all the choices in the room to a few to see if he will do that more easily. So this brings me to more quesions:

How does M. teach those qualities of choice making, intrinsic motivation, perseverence, focus, etc.?? What specific things would an M. teacher do to help promote these qualities? Is it just providing the opportunity and waiting for maturity to kick in? Also, I understand the idea of developing these qualities and not focussing on the academics, but can't academics and those intrinsic qualities be worked on at the same time - in fact, shouldn't they? I have a hard time motivating myself to concentrate on busy-work, just because that's the process (yes, I can do it because I have an understanding of the why and the outcome), but if a child is working on something that's too easy (leading to boredom), how is that developing a love for persevering, self-motivation, concentration, etc.? I see it as cyclical - if he's not challenged enough, then he's not motivated to do those other things, which gets him off-task and acting out, which impairs his social relationships and makes the teachers view him as younger, which leads them to continuing lower level works. Or do I misunderstand?
Montessori builds the teaching of qualities like perseverance, intrinsic motivation, choice making etc by modeling them through teacher modeled behavior and/or providing the environment where those qualities have the chance to blossom. So, things like intrinsic motivation are learned by consistently allowing the child to choose their own work, work at their own pace (teacher not trying to "keep them on task"), allowing them to complete or not complete the job, not correcting the child if the job isn't done "correctly" (letting the child figure it our entirely for themselves, in other words) and a really big one is to have minimal praise or criticism (so the child isn't doing something to either please, or in response to, the adults influence). In some kids learning these qualities takes a long time. That may be because of the individual child's personality or it may be because they have learned, through interactions from previous schools or parents, not to actually be intrinsically motivated or make their own choices or whatever. Those kids may actually be unlearning one way of behaving and then learning to be more independent, basically.

I think another important aspect of Montessori is trusting the child and recognizing that the child isn't a small adult, and therefor not motivated by the same things, or bored by the same things, as an adult. Things that are "busy work" and boring to us as adults, and therefor requiring motivation to get through, shouldn't be that way for kids. In Montessori, kids should be free to choose what work they want to work on, and an important aspect of that decision making is choosing it as many or as few times as they like. Some kids may want to do a job 25 times before it is really cemented in their minds. They should be free to do that, but not made to do that if it is boring for them. If they are choosing to do it, it is because it is filling some internal need for them. If it is something they need motivating, from an outside source, they shouldn't really be doing it. Montessori was really into trusting kids to know what they need to do - some times it is more of the academic work and sometimes it is more personal/emotional type stuff. So, by spending a day wandering around the classroom not really doing any jobs may be his way of taking it all in, making more sense of his environment, watching other kids do jobs (which can be a great way to learn), etc. If he does that from time to time, I wouldn't worry. If he is like that every day, I would talk with the teacher. But, assuming he isn't like that every day, I would guess that it is his teachers way of teaching him to make his own choice all by himself - he may need to experience that feeling of not being settled in to an activity, watching the other kids do their work, etc so that he will eventually make a choice for himself. Sometimes it is uncomfortable, or doesn't even look like it makes sense, to the adult.
post #7 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thanks for that response, Mamadebug. I guess there's more to it than I explained and I figured I'd use this thread rather than starting a new one, since it feeds off of the same line of thought.

Ds has had difficulty transitioning to his new school this year (he also became a big brother, so his world was really shaken up). Because of some off-task behavior and getting sent home once, I requested notes home to give me an idea how his days go. They are willing to give me 2 notes per week, and on each one so far, it's stated that he has needed redirection during work time, usually "lots" qualifies the word redirection. And it's not that he can't focus on things he's interested in (I've said somewhere before that his teacher last year described him as extremely focused once he was moved to the right level). I am not Montessori trained and don't know what kind of things they look for to evaluate a student's level. But I do work in Special Education, and I do know that if a student is too challenged or too bored, they will perform less than optimally. At what point is what they are working on re-evaluated for fit rather than just sticking to the progression?

So is it that just having the opportunity to choose his own work and work for as long or little as he wants is supposed to bring about change? That doesn't seem to be "teaching" him anything. If he continues to not choose work or not complete work, then where is the motivation supposed to come from? I thought Montessori offered guidance to help the students on the right path, if they didn't do it automatically or naturally.
post #8 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rose-Roget View Post
But I do work in Special Education, and I do know that if a student is too challenged or too bored, they will perform less than optimally. At what point is what they are working on re-evaluated for fit rather than just sticking to the progression?

So is it that just having the opportunity to choose his own work and work for as long or little as he wants is supposed to bring about change? That doesn't seem to be "teaching" him anything. If he continues to not choose work or not complete work, then where is the motivation supposed to come from? I thought Montessori offered guidance to help the students on the right path, if they didn't do it automatically or naturally.
This is tricky - I don't want to assume too much about what the teacher is doing. She may have reasons for what she is doing that aren't apparent. It's also tricky because Montessori schools vary widely and Montessori teacher training varies widely. I would say most teacher training programs teach teachers how to use the materials correctly, some don't spend as much time addressing the psychology behind the philosophy. So, there may be something very specific about what the teacher is doing or there may not be. It strikes me as odd that he was sent home - unless something major happened, they should be able to handle it there (and I would feel that way about any school program, not just Montessori). So, without knowing more (and you certainly don't have to tell me more), I would worry that maybe they are too rigid.

So, a part of the philosophy and psychology that can look very different in different classrooms is that progression. Just choosing how long to work and what to work on isn't going to bring about change - that has to be coupled with "the prepared environment" - and carefully crafted environment and a well trained teacher. Through all of this, he is teaching himself, really - the teacher doesn't offer direct instruction on perseverance, etc. Ideally, he should be choosing his own work - then he wouldn't be bored because he chose it (an example of how intrinsic motivation is built into the program). Allowing for that does create situations where a child does choose a job that is way too challenging - allowing for that is OK too. There is no harm done and it allows the child to experiment with the material - probably no academic knowledge is gained there, but that isn't the only point. Choice and exploration are also really important, so there is value in that. The teacher's role is to be aware of where that child is in terms of ability and interest and present lessons to him that fill his need. What he does with that is his choice and his learning process. I can give two examples of how that looks - I work with one girl who, when given a lesson, does exactly what I have done and she practices it a number of times. She is pretty straightforward and easy to work with, really. I have a boy who, when shown a lesson, doesn't want to practice it. He will sit on the floor and watch other kids do it a number of times and you would think he isn't taking it in. Then, all of a sudden, he will, on his own, take out the job, do it and then do a number of complicated variations of the job. That is his process. It requires a release of control, really, and trusting the child, if in an appropriate environment, will learn and internalize all of these things.

Montessori does offer guidance if a child isn't on the right path. How overt that guidance is would depend on how off path the child is, I suppose (the definition of that may become more of a personal style thing rather than the philosophy, really). If a child is really disruptive, they would offer more overt guidance. If a child is just kind of wandering and not really settled in yet, they may create an environment that is supportive and gives the child opportunities to make choices and promotes intrinsic motivation and then let the child work it out for themselves a bit. The teacher should be aware, though, that when a kid is going through that settling in period, they aren't going to be making real easy transitions - that's all part of not being settled in. Perseverance will come when it clicks for that kid - at some point, they will want to complete a job and will do it. Before that, they may do what they feel confident doing and then set it aside. Usually, though, they will eventually come back to it and complete it.
post #9 of 17
I'm not an expert in Montessori, just a parent of a kid who's in one, but I guess I'm wondering what your gut feel is on things?

Not from the notes or the description of what he's doing, but from your son's way of approaching things at home, how he treats his new sibling, and so on? Especially on weekends (i.e. not when he's tired out from school). Is he noticing letters and sounds? What's he gravitating towards?

I think it's a good idea to use your intuition. Not all schools and teachers are great or a good match.

That said...I worked briefly in special ed, and as I remember it, it's a place where each kid's progress is monitored really closely and where there is a very. set. path of instruction and goals.

I think there's a strength to that, but it doesn't hook up very well with Montessori. I think it must be hard for you if you're in one mindset professionally and then in a different one as a parent.

In Montessori it seems to me all or most of the activity of the child is perceived as progress. This is actually, at the casa level especially, something I philosophically appreciate. It's not necessary, to my mind, that at 4 a child be going a-b-c-d in terms of his commitment to working. There is time for that later. At 4 he can hardly stop learning.

As an example, my son got to a point in the works where he just - stopped doing them. The first week I wasn't too concerned. But when he self-reported (always suspect) that he wasn't doing any I did ask about it. The answer I got was that 4 year olds often stop doing the works and spend time socializing...because one of their developmental needs at that age may be to be a bit more peer-aware. Sure enough, my kid started bringing home stories I never heard before like "Clara wouldn't play with Sydney so Sydney was upset."

After a month or so, he went back to the works and took off again. He also started making requests like "can I take cheese for snack because everyone likes that, but Devon doesn't like muffins." To me that was - wow. He's learned to think of someone else (at least occasionally). Just like that. That's HUGE. It's so important in life. And I feel very grateful that our school allowed him the space to do that.

It is a little mindblowing when you come from an environment where "if it's Tuesday, you must be able to subtract." But at this stage, for my child, I am trusting the process. Now I don't mean to imply that parents should just trust blindly. I really believe you if you feel it is a deep intuition that is telling you your son isn't doing well. But, if it's your mind trying to tick off the boxes, I think I would say relax a bit and see where it goes.
post #10 of 17
Thread Starter 
From a Special Ed. frame of mind, I have to say that I'm less rigid than the current guidelines. I work in Speech-Language. I write my goals and I work toward them, but I also see that language expands beyond those goals and I work really hard to do continuous assessments of abilities and problem-solving during my sessions with students. So actually, I see that the way I try to work actually quite compatible with what I have understood the M. philosophy to be - always evaluating skills and behaviors, looking for areas of strength to build upon and looking for ways to scaffold/build up those areas of need.

I definitely think that these teachers might have received a lot of the materials training but missed the philosophy training. It's amazing that our city even has a Montessori training program, but I get the feeling that it's not necessarily top-notch. Then again, I have another friend who seems to have a better grasp.

When he was sent home, it was 1/2 my decision. I got a call saying that he'd been dancing around the room with different materials (he's 5, by the way ) all morning. He'd been told to stop several times. In the end (because obviously he wasn't stopping) he'd picked up a pushpin from the hole punching work and danced around with that, holding it toward another kid. He wasn't trying to act maliciously in any way. He was really wound up and the teachers were evidently ineffective at getting him to straighten up. This was about a week or two after his sister was born, and he was in absolute rare form and testing mode. The head of school called and explained, then said that she was torn as to whether she should send him home or make him finish the day. I was so irritated that the teachers had let it get so far that I wasn't sure continuing through the day was a good idea. I know that they have a lot of kids in the class, but if it takes moving a child closer to be able to get them to focus better, then why not do that, rather than trying the same ineffective direction giving with no follow through? So I decided to come get him. He ended up with a major consequence at home. I asked for regular reports so that I can try to analyze his behavior patterns and help figure out what could help him. They are resistant to providing those notes, but they do it minimally.

My gut is telling me that the teachers gave up on ds because he's not one of the "easy" kids. He's very bright, but he doesn't like people to see it. He was never a kid who would "perform" for others - not even as a baby - so it's hard to gauge where he is. I've noticed at home that if I don't underestimate his abilities, he often rises to the occasion. He's got some anxious and perfectionistic tendencies, and as hard as I've tried to limit my "praise" over the years in order to allow him to build his internal pride, I realize that he really looks to please (believe it or not!) and needs some sort of feedback that others like him and/or are proud of him in some way...or else he will make it worth their while to not express that (i.e. get into trouble). He's always had a hard time making choices.

When I asked why he didn't choose a work on his own, he said there were too many choices. He also said that there are works that he'd like to do that teachers say he can't do. He's asking for Reading Drawers. I don't know where Reading Drawers fall in the progression - maybe they're lower level? - but he says that he's told he can't do them. So he works on the Moveable Alphabet short vowel sounds...still. On the way to and from school, he reads me 2nd and 3rd grade level books with little support. He also said that he really wants to do the Bank and Snake games but that he's told he can't do those either. I wonder if the teachers are missing an opportunity because he really wants to do more math and he's really feeling confident in reading. If he is feeling challenged and stimulated, I think he'd settle in more. That's a major reason I chose Montessori over traditional. But again, I'm not familiar with all of the works. I don't know where things fall in the progression, how strict the progression rules are, and what can be worked on simultaneously. I will say that I have the materials at home to teach him the bank game (now that I YouTube'd it and know what it is), and we'll do that this weekend. I don't think it's too high for him from what I've seen at home.
post #11 of 17
Hmmm. It sounds like a bummer. The dancing around the room thing with a push pin towards another kid is a time when there should have been overt guidance! Really, though, they should have handled it before it got to that point - in any environment, not just Montessori - and not by sending him home.

It sounds like they are being really rigid about what work he can do and in what order. It is something I have seen at a lot of Montessori schools I have been to. It isn't in keeping with the philosophy to do it that way on a number of levels. On the surface, in some kids, it creates problems like what you are seeing. Again, though, my impression is that a lot of teacher training programs miss out on a lot of the psychology and philosophical reasons for doing things a certain way. So, they can use the materials just fine, but when something comes up, they don't know how or why they are doing what they are doing or how to change it when it isn't working. I have been through a pretty thorough training course, and I have no idea what "reading drawers" are - but, he should be free to move beyond what he is doing now simply because he should have that choice. I can see why he would be bored given what you have described.

On a practical level, it may make sense for him to be offered a couple of choices in order to get him engaged with the goal of working away from needing that adult input. He can do things without needing the adult praise and feedback - it may just take a while for him to learn that he can do that. The main way to do it, from a Montessori perspective, would be to not give the negative behavior when he "makes it not worth their while" any feedback at all. Depending on how bad the negative behavior is may or may not be possible, though.

Also, something like speech therapy is much more goals oriented. My son just finished 8 months of OT, and in that situation, it made sense to have more goals and to be constantly evaluating to see how he has progressed and if he still needs the services. In a regular classroom with regularly developing kids, that kind of monitoring isn't really needed.
post #12 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rose-Roget View Post
My gut is telling me that the teachers gave up on ds because he's not one of the "easy" kids. He's very bright, but he doesn't like people to see it. He was never a kid who would "perform" for others - not even as a baby - so it's hard to gauge where he is. I've noticed at home that if I don't underestimate his abilities, he often rises to the occasion. He's got some anxious and perfectionistic tendencies, and as hard as I've tried to limit my "praise" over the years in order to allow him to build his internal pride, I realize that he really looks to please (believe it or not!) and needs some sort of feedback that others like him and/or are proud of him in some way...or else he will make it worth their while to not express that (i.e. get into trouble). He's always had a hard time making choices.
I think that intuition is really important. I have a little praise junkie too, and his teachers have found ways to engage him without feeding too much into it.

It does sound like he might be an asynchronous learner and that this school might not yet have the experience in how to engage him. That's really frustrating. I wish I had more insight other than to talk to them again about his desire for the works you outlined and see if they can't come to some middle ground.
post #13 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamadebug View Post
The main way to do it, from a Montessori perspective, would be to not give the negative behavior when he "makes it not worth their while" any feedback at all.
I'll respond more later, but I realized I sounded a little harsh with my "makes it not worth their while" comment. His negatives are usually just in the form of moving around the room, wiggling, or not using works properly (although not dangerously - except for the pushpin incident). The pushpin thing was an extreme, and yes, it should have been handled long before it got to that point. Just for the record - he wasn't running around out of control, he was getting off-task in his works and wandering from the areas with materials in his hands. He doesn't usually just walk straight and calmly - "dances" is the only description I can come up with (he's not running, not spinning, just moving around goofily). Just had to throw that in to defend his image a bit.

So it sounds like my issues are with the teachers rather than Montessori. I'm glad - I thought I understood enough about the philosophy to think it was a good choice for ds...but it has to be the right classroom. He'll hopefully get into a public Montessori for next year - at least I'm familiar with public schools, so I will feel more versed in my rights for how to problem solve, if there are difficulties. If he doesn't get in there, I'll have to look at traditional.
post #14 of 17
After viewing your school for about an hour the other day...my gut feeling thinks it is probably the teachers that are the issue in this case and not the school or the montessori method. I viewed two different pre-primary classrooms. I noticed in one classroom all the children were on task and the teachers were very hands on with the children helping them use the works. In the other classroom I noticed the children wandering much more and not nearly as focused and the teachers did not seem to encourage the children as much to choose works etc. I also noticed in this other classroom that though they were also hands on, it was less so and even one of the teachers spent quite a bit of time just wandering around. Obviously I was more impressed with one set of teachers...though I did like them both, but I can see how a child that has trouble with so many choices might not do well in one classroom versus another.
post #15 of 17
Thread Starter 
That's interesting that you observed that! I wish I could be a fly on the wall and really see what's happening, rather than get 2 brief notes a week that really don't give me much information. Thanks for that feedback.
post #16 of 17
Does your school not allow you to observe? Our school has an observation room with a mirrored window so the parents can watch the kids without the kids knowing. parents really can be a fly on the wall with that opportunity.

they also have "open classrooms" four times a month in the afternoon so the kids can show the parents different works.

And, finally, they offer about 6-10 parent education workshops each year so that the parents can become familiar with Montessori and the decision-making that occurs within the classrooms and philosophy.

I would certainly push for more time and access to the classroom experience.
post #17 of 17
Thread Starter 
They do not have an observation room, so I would be very conspicuous, unfortunately. Our school offers some education classes. I've been to the reading one, but I didn't find it very helpful. She spent too much time on the very basic, beginning levels, so the more advanced pieces were rushed or absent. I'll try to make the Math one - that's a piece I feel less secure in my knowledge about. I suppose I should go observe, but I won't be completely representative of typical because I won't be hidden.
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