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New to Montessori, could use your input! - Page 2

post #21 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by RiverTam View Post
Oh, yuck. Didn't they transition the new kids in one at a time?

At our school, new kids are transitioned into the class room one or two kids at a time. (That mean that DS#2 didn't start until the first week of October during his first year!)The teacher spends a whole week focusing mostly on those kids and their transition. She spends a lot of time showing them how to use materials. She spends a lot of time getting the older children to show them materials. By the end of the week, the kids have a lot of stuff that they have been shown and can do.

If it's a problem, I'd say something to the teacher. She needs to get on the stick about presenting the materials to the children so that they can get busy working. If she's not doing it, it might be time to find a different school.

BTW, the nap thing might not be the school's fault. I live in Illinois (near St. Louis, but on the Illinois side.) The State of Illinois requires two hours of nap-time for every child under age 5 in a day care or school setting. It's mandatory. There are no other options.


The transition period wasn't as long at my kids' Montessori schools, but it followed the same general pattern. IIRC, the 3 y.o.'s were introduced into the 3 to 6 y.o. class over a 1 week period, maybe 2 or 3 new students each day. Out of a class of approximately 25, each Sept. there would 1/3rd or about 8 or 9 new 3 y.o's. The gradual transition gave the directress plenty of opportunity to introduce them to the routines and materials.
post #22 of 37
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamadebug View Post
This is an interesting topic that I feel like is a pretty common theme. My son is in a Montessori school. I completed a Montessori training course. We were never taught that children should only be allowed to work with some material if they have had a lesson with it. I was taught that because it is child lead, a child should be free to use the materials and experiment (in a genuine way - not throwing things across the room or something). A key component of the materials is that much of it is self correcting and therefore perfect for the child to attempt to do it on his or her own. Children are great observers - and often quite capable if they watch another child work with some material or watch the teacher give another child a lesson, to then be able to do it themselves. Part of the reason for mixed age classrooms is so that the children can learn from each other. This was illustrated so beautifully for me one time when an older boy helped a newer boy work with some math material (and no, the new boy had not had a lesson on it - he was trying to figure it out after watching another kid do it). I think too much emphasis is often put on the materials and using it just exactly correctly. Sorry to hear your DD is bored. That is unfortunate and, I think, unnecessary in a Montessori classroom.
What you are describing sounds lovely to me. On the one hand I do understand that they don't want to have someone building a pink tower and then knocking it down and knocking blocks all over the room or something, but assuming that they are working with it in a reasonable way, quietly, on a rug? Why not give them that opportunity to just LOOK at the materials and try to figure it out? I just don't see what harm it can do.
post #23 of 37
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by carmel23 View Post
having a lesson from an older child is still a lesson, yk? and sure, most works are self correcting/self taught. And I do think it is weird that the child isn't allowed to touch things, that seems contrary to Montessori. I would do a little reading and schedule an observation.
They are recommending we don't do observations until November. The school is an open school, I can go in and peek any time I like, but they'd prefer we wait to do actual observations. By then we'll be locked in to this school... we have a 30 day period to figure out if it is working for us or not.

I agree that a lesson from an older child is still a lesson!
post #24 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by prettypixels View Post
Is it too much for them to have a new lesson every day? Especially with the very simple lessons... I'm asking honestly, I really don't know the actual *flow* of how things go in the classroom. I've been doing tons of reading and there are some excellent videos on youtube about Montessori, but that's not the same thing as having observed an entire day once or twice.

I do appreciate you saying that your little guy was not bored, that is very helpful. Mine does not seem bored anymore, which is better. FWIW you should all know that the difficulties we are having are all MOM based. She loves her school. She says her favorite part of the day is "Loving everyone." She has been very excited to hold the flag while they said Pledge of Allegiance on one day, and the next she got to put out the cups for snack, so she felt very special. Soon they will be incorporating show and tell, and each child being the "helper" for the day, which I know she will LOOOOVE!

The Montessori methods for math and letters actually sounds pretty amazing to me, it's just the getting there that I am a bit frustrated with.
I just noticed you are in Maryland. I do believe the nap thing is mandatory as we are in Maryland, too (Annapolis area) and we do that, too. Even the kids who are 4 I believe are not transitioned to full day until they are officially 4 1/2 (even if that is mid year). Next year will be my first experience with that since my youngest has an April birthday so won't be 4 1/2 until October. My other two had January birthdays so started their full day year the second year of Montessori.

As for lessons every day, I guess you have to realize that the teacher has probably close to 30 children in a class. In a half/day situation the teacher may not be able to present a new lesson EVERY day but I believe in the beginning they probably do more new ones to get the little ones up to speed with enough to keep them busy. In my middle son's case he was in his third year and some of the lessons were more advanced. In fact, she would even skip him ahead a lesson or two, particularly in math, then go back. The catch with him is that he always THINKS he "has it" after one lesson but in reality needs to practice and get it down before going on. When you get to the beads and higher math, the new lessons slow down, I think.

At our school we are not allowed to observe the 1/2 day students until next semester (it is distracting and many who are still getting used to being in a class can get upset if mom comes in then leaves wihout them). But I have heard of other schools that have one-way glass or other ways to observe. Are you able to observe your daughter's class? That would be a good way to get a good idea of what actually goes on in her particular classroom.
post #25 of 37
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by GuildJenn View Post
Sorry if it came across that way. When I was touring all the play-based schools I looked at were really...enthusiastic. I don't think it's a bad thing. It was just not our style.

That was a real example. The kids came in, and it was Peter Rabbit week and they were lead around the room hopping like bunnies. I definitely didn't mean it as derogatory. It's just that having worked in a kindergarten I saw (and saw this in many of the daycares and schools that I toured) that the daily rhythm was a lot about the adult deciding when to get the kids excited and when to calm them down. Which is not a bad thing! It just wasn't right for my son at that age. Soon I think he probably would like that kind of thing.

The nap is mandatory by regulation at certain ages, but our Montessori doesn't have naps for the 4+ year olds unless they need it.

For the works...I do think with Montessori you either buy in that certain works are presented, or you don't. I don't mind because it's very like home. My son is eagerly awaiting his 8th birthday so that he can clean the toilet. (I imagine this will change when he gets older. ). But if you're not ok with it, that's really good information.
I meant to ask before, but forgot... why does he have to wait until he is 8 to clean the toilet?
post #26 of 37
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by musikat View Post
I just noticed you are in Maryland. I do believe the nap thing is mandatory as we are in Maryland, too (Annapolis area) and we do that, too. Even the kids who are 4 I believe are not transitioned to full day until they are officially 4 1/2 (even if that is mid year). Next year will be my first experience with that since my youngest has an April birthday so won't be 4 1/2 until October. My other two had January birthdays so started their full day year the second year of Montessori.

As for lessons every day, I guess you have to realize that the teacher has probably close to 30 children in a class. In a half/day situation the teacher may not be able to present a new lesson EVERY day but I believe in the beginning they probably do more new ones to get the little ones up to speed with enough to keep them busy. In my middle son's case he was in his third year and some of the lessons were more advanced. In fact, she would even skip him ahead a lesson or two, particularly in math, then go back. The catch with him is that he always THINKS he "has it" after one lesson but in reality needs to practice and get it down before going on. When you get to the beads and higher math, the new lessons slow down, I think.

At our school we are not allowed to observe the 1/2 day students until next semester (it is distracting and many who are still getting used to being in a class can get upset if mom comes in then leaves wihout them). But I have heard of other schools that have one-way glass or other ways to observe. Are you able to observe your daughter's class? That would be a good way to get a good idea of what actually goes on in her particular classroom.
That's actually really helpful to know the 4.5 thing is not a Montessori cutoff, but state rules. Thank you!

There is a window in the door of her room, and I have gone in and peeked a few times, but I don't want her to see me. I wish they had the one-way glass or a webcam or something! That would be fantastic!

Everything you've said here makes sense. Our room is more like 22 kids, but it makes sense that lessons will slow down as they become more complex and harder to really master.
post #27 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by prettypixels View Post
What you are describing sounds lovely to me. On the one hand I do understand that they don't want to have someone building a pink tower and then knocking it down and knocking blocks all over the room or something, but assuming that they are working with it in a reasonable way, quietly, on a rug? Why not give them that opportunity to just LOOK at the materials and try to figure it out? I just don't see what harm it can do.
It doesn't do any harm - and in fact would be quite good. The woman who ran our training program (a much older woman who had been at this a long time and had a lot of experience in the classroom) emphasized over and over that the teacher needs to sit back and observe the children as they work. It is meant to be the children's environment and that environment should be set up for them to use. It's the teachers job to set up that environment, be available to the child if they need guidance and observe the child to see what they are doing, what they know, etc - it should be child directed, not teacher directed in practice (the teacher does sort of "behind the scenes" directing by setting up the classroom a certain way). Again, it is my experience that often times too much emphasis is put on the materials while missing some of the key points of the philosophy.
post #28 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by prettypixels View Post
Is it too much for them to have a new lesson every day? Especially with the very simple lessons... I'm asking honestly, I really don't know the actual *flow* of how things go in the classroom.
It depends on the kid, of course. A new lesson every day may be fine....a couple of new lessons in a day may be fine....one new lesson a week may be all a certain child wants/needs (I am thinking more when you get up to the harder math stuff maybe). The key is it should be child driven - so if a child is asking for new lessons often, then the child must want/need them. I have seen that in the first few days the kids seem to want to do a lot/have a lot of lessons/have a chance to touch or use everything because it is all new to them. A child should be allowed to satisfy that need. That sort of jumping around isn't sustained - a child usually pretty quickly settles in, gets more focused, spends more time on their job and doesn't jump around so much.

I guess as I think about this question more, if a child is in a classroom where they can only use material if they have had a lesson on it and they are only getting one lesson a day, what do they do all day - especially in the beginning? The same one or two things over and over? I really don't believe Montessori intended for that kind of dynamic in the classroom.
post #29 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by prettypixels View Post
I meant to ask before, but forgot... why does he have to wait until he is 8 to clean the toilet?
Oh it's half random and half bad childhood experiences.

First, we do use strong cleaners on our toilet - for most of the house we're better environmentally but not for toilets; it's a dumb thing of mine. Anyways when my son was 3 he was helping me clean the bathroom and flicked the brush so that the cleaner/germs went into his hair, so I said we'd better wait. He asked how old he had to be so I randomly said 8. Now it's kind of a joke.

Second, when I was 7 my job was cleaning the bathroom and I managed to mix bleach and ammonia and gave myself what family legend calls chemical pneumonia (a trip to the ER and oxygen, at least). My mother was the kind of mother that went ballistic on Saturday berating everyone for being pigs and cleaning was - fraught. So I have this hangup about kids and cleaning products and not forcing responsibility too early.

...which makes Montessori a healthy BUT ironic choice for our family. But in my defense, my son helps with tons and tons of other things. Just not bathroom cleanser things.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mamadebug View Post
I guess as I think about this question more, if a child is in a classroom where they can only use material if they have had a lesson on it and they are only getting one lesson a day, what do they do all day - especially in the beginning? The same one or two things over and over? I really don't believe Montessori intended for that kind of dynamic in the classroom.
This is really making me want to go observe my son's school because although as I said it can be a bit slow at the start compared to later, I don't think it's quite so rigid or - something. I can ask.
post #30 of 37
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamadebug View Post
It depends on the kid, of course. A new lesson every day may be fine....a couple of new lessons in a day may be fine....one new lesson a week may be all a certain child wants/needs (I am thinking more when you get up to the harder math stuff maybe). The key is it should be child driven - so if a child is asking for new lessons often, then the child must want/need them. I have seen that in the first few days the kids seem to want to do a lot/have a lot of lessons/have a chance to touch or use everything because it is all new to them. A child should be allowed to satisfy that need. That sort of jumping around isn't sustained - a child usually pretty quickly settles in, gets more focused, spends more time on their job and doesn't jump around so much.

I guess as I think about this question more, if a child is in a classroom where they can only use material if they have had a lesson on it and they are only getting one lesson a day, what do they do all day - especially in the beginning? The same one or two things over and over? I really don't believe Montessori intended for that kind of dynamic in the classroom.
Thank you! This is exactly what I have been getting at. They have a section they can use; it's like lacing beads, a few puzzles, and some little plasticy things that stick together. I can't think of the name, but kind of circular with notches in so you can build stuff with them. Plus they can color and do playdough. And now my girl can use a strawberry huller to move little balls from a bowl into a plate. Which I understand is a good pre-writing skill, but... I mean it just seems kinda boring to me.
post #31 of 37
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by GuildJenn View Post
Oh it's half random and half bad childhood experiences.

First, we do use strong cleaners on our toilet - for most of the house we're better environmentally but not for toilets; it's a dumb thing of mine. Anyways when my son was 3 he was helping me clean the bathroom and flicked the brush so that the cleaner/germs went into his hair, so I said we'd better wait. He asked how old he had to be so I randomly said 8. Now it's kind of a joke.

Second, when I was 7 my job was cleaning the bathroom and I managed to mix bleach and ammonia and gave myself what family legend calls chemical pneumonia (a trip to the ER and oxygen, at least). My mother was the kind of mother that went ballistic on Saturday berating everyone for being pigs and cleaning was - fraught. So I have this hangup about kids and cleaning products and not forcing responsibility too early.

...which makes Montessori a healthy BUT ironic choice for our family. But in my defense, my son helps with tons and tons of other things. Just not bathroom cleanser things.



This is really making me want to go observe my son's school because although as I said it can be a bit slow at the start compared to later, I don't think it's quite so rigid or - something. I can ask.
OK! I am so sorry you found out the hard way about bleach and ammonia, that must have been horrid for you!!!

I think I may ask if I can observe another classroom. I don't know if they would want me to observe hers right now. I just want to get a feel for it, you know?
post #32 of 37
There's a really nice little pamphlet called "A Parent's Guide to the Montessori Classroom." You might want to see if your school has it so you can borrow it. I think that it might answer a lot of your questions.

My daughter just completed her first full week. They started 4 of the new kids last Thursday, then the other 4 on Friday. This week, the older kids started. Transition seems to have gone rather smoothly.

Every day, DD says she didn't do any work. She gives me a play by play of what the guinea pig did, though. But I talked to her teacher who said that she's been observing a lot of lessons but for the most part is just an observer with the activity type lessons. She's apparently really into the practical life stuff, and has been preparing the snacks almost every day this week, wiping down the tables, and cleaning the outside of the guinea pig aquarium. Today she informed me that someone else cleaned it, and the guinea pig didn't like it.

I think that Montessori can seem to move slowly, but there is a method to the madness. If I sent her to a more conventional preschool, I'd probably be pretty annoyed that they had her doing the janitorial work! Cooking and cleaning is familiar to her, so I think she has attached to it in the classroom. I know her personality, and it always takes her a while to warm up to things. She is an observer, and jumps in only when she is ready. And then she's the life of the party. She's that cliche child who walked late, but never fell, talked late and was speaking in sentences within a few weeks, and she's the same way with smaller milestones. She took a dance class last year and spent 3 weeks just standing there watching as everyone else ran around and danced... but at the recital she was the only one in her class who danced and didn't just stand there like a deer in the headlights.

I really like that Montessori lets children move as slowly as they want to. Montessori is "child led" in that the child moves at her own pace through the curriculum: sometimes very slowly, sometimes mastering things very quickly. But it's still a set curriculum that the child is supposed to follow. There are 3+ levels of activity for most of the skills, and the child is supposed to master each step before she moves on. A good Montessori teacher will recognize when the child has mastered the skill AND is ready to move on (and these don't always happen at the same moment: sometimes the child is still happy playing at the mastered skill and isn't quite ready for the next step) and then swoop in with the next lesson.

The book that I recommended (which is really just a pamphlet) outlines all that. It's a quick read, but I thought that it explained a lot about how and why things work. Both of the Montessori schools that we applied to sent it to us.

Also, I think that while naptime is a state mandated thing, I think that it is a Montessori thing for only the oldest kids to stay for the full day. Both of the schools I'm familiar with are like that. I think they do more kindergarten level work in the afternoon, and the smaller class size allows more individualized instruction for the more complicated tasks. A friend who went to a Montessori school told me that it was a huge honor when you got asked to stay the full day because it meant you were one of the big kids and got to do more advanced work.
post #33 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by prettypixels View Post
Thank you! This is exactly what I have been getting at. They have a section they can use; it's like lacing beads, a few puzzles, and some little plasticy things that stick together. I can't think of the name, but kind of circular with notches in so you can build stuff with them. Plus they can color and do playdough. And now my girl can use a strawberry huller to move little balls from a bowl into a plate. Which I understand is a good pre-writing skill, but... I mean it just seems kinda boring to me.
Haha. It would be boring to us. realize, though, that there is a big difference between an adult's work and a child's work. Children work to develop inner, more hidden aims. The work reflects the child's inner need for order, concentration, and focus. Adults work just to get done with a task.
post #34 of 37
PrettyPixels How is your little girl doing? Has she adjusted? Getting enough lessons, etc?
post #35 of 37
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by carmel23 View Post

PrettyPixels How is your little girl doing? Has she adjusted? Getting enough lessons, etc?


Carmel thank you for asking!  She still love love loves her school!  I go to observe tomorrow.  My husband was there today and enjoyed watching.  She has done sandpaper letters, pink tower, brown stair, among lots of others, of course!  I don't think she is bored academically now but I have some concerns about her socially.  Actually I guess my concern is more with the Montessori idea of "let the kids work it out" extending to social interaction... have any of you had any problems with that? 

 

I'll report back after tomorrow. smile.gif

post #36 of 37


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by prettypixels View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by carmel23 View Post

PrettyPixels How is your little girl doing? Has she adjusted? Getting enough lessons, etc?


Carmel thank you for asking!  She still love love loves her school!  I go to observe tomorrow.  My husband was there today and enjoyed watching.  She has done sandpaper letters, pink tower, brown stair, among lots of others, of course!  I don't think she is bored academically now but I have some concerns about her socially.  Actually I guess my concern is more with the Montessori idea of "let the kids work it out" extending to social interaction... have any of you had any problems with that? 

 

I'll report back after tomorrow. smile.gif



There is a method to "letting the kids work it out," and at our school there is huge emphasis on being polite and social graces, and teaching empathy. 

 

Usually there is a resolution table, and the kids are instructed and guided in how to express their feelings and resolve an issue.  Much better then "time outs" IMHO. 

 

I think the best indication of if a child is learning is if they love school.  I'm so glad everything is working out!  My DD loves her school, too. hearts.gif

post #37 of 37

I'd see what they say at the parent night for now.  There are a few thoughts:

 

--I remember telling my parents I did "nothing" all day.  They knew better, of course.  :-)

--I wholeheartedly disagree that a child shouldn't touch anything before they had a lesson on it.  I used to agree with it, but not any more.  Still, it's a common debate in the Montessori world.  I side more with observation, which is the key to Montessori.  See what the child does with the material.  A child might not be ready for counting the bead chain, but what an amazing practical life skill with fine motor practice to hang it back up.  That said, there might be a limitation if the 3 year old is trying to take all the bead chains to the rug.  That can get messy. :-)

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