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Is this normal for a montessori?

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

My son is 3 and recently started a two day program in the primary class of a montessori school. He loves it so far and looks forward to going. I sat with him one day and noticed the teacher wouldn't allow some of the students to play or work on projects that they hadn't had a lesson on. like my son and another boy wanted to play with the number bead bars but the teacher was very stern and told them they had to work on something else. this sort of rubbed me the wrong way. Is it normal for children in a montessori environment to be discouraged like this? I could understand if maybe she atleast explained what the item is/does so atleast it could satisfy their curiousity instead of just a firm 'no'. I think the thing that appealed to me most about montessori is that the child has the freedom to choose what they want to do, but is there ever an exception to that? Hope to get some your opinions on this. 

post #2 of 5

Yes.  

 

It's a fairly core tenet. Children may only do the work that they've received a lesson on, which happens when the teacher decides the child is ready.

 

You might want to ask the school for some advice on books to read about the Montessori philosophy and about Montessori in practice.  "A Parent's Guide to the Montessori Classroom" is very informative, though it's really just a short little pamphlet.  I learned a lot from it.  Going back and reading some of the longer threads in this forum might also teach you a bit more about Montessori. 

 

And Montessori is about "Freedom within limits," not just plain old freedom.

post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 

Lach, 

Thanks for the advice. I suppose in the last few years we've been reading on montessori I've not seen anything about children needing the lesson first. Basically my son was too scared to move around the room and explore because he will be snapped at. The teacher is what I feel to be overly stern about it and that's what really bothers me. Right now, He is only allowed in art/practical life which leaves alot of the room to be untouched. Most of the children seemed bored and would ask permission to work on something only to be turned down because they 'were not ready' according to the teacher.  

post #4 of 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by nikkiethridge View Post

Lach, 

Thanks for the advice. I suppose in the last few years we've been reading on montessori I've not seen anything about children needing the lesson first. Basically my son was too scared to move around the room and explore because he will be snapped at. The teacher is what I feel to be overly stern about it and that's what really bothers me. Right now, He is only allowed in art/practical life which leaves alot of the room to be untouched. Most of the children seemed bored and would ask permission to work on something only to be turned down because they 'were not ready' according to the teacher.  


This sounds more like a teacher issue than a Montessori issue. Yes, students receive a lesson before they use materials, but the teacher is supposed to provide the lesson if the student asks - or a lesson in an activity that builds toward the sought-after material, if the student isn't quite ready for it.  She should also encourage the students to try new areas. A teacher - Montessori or otherwise - shouldn't be snapping at students, particularly when those students are expressing an interest in learning.  

 

I wonder what sort of training this teacher has done and what her Montessori qualifications are. I also wonder how long she's been teaching.

 

 

 

post #5 of 5

The Montessori environment provides a structure that the children can move through as they are ready but this is sometimes decided by the Guide or Directress and partly decided by what the child gravitates toward.  There are certainly 3 year olds who are interested in numbers. 

I agree with the above that there shouldn't be an overly firm or threatening manner in relating this to the children - this should be part of their first introduction to the classroom.  There certainly are some materials that a 3 year old could not be successful with and so, we do ask them to wait and/or discuss with the teacher if they are interested in a new lesson and that during the work cycle, they repeat and practice and refine the presentations that they have already been shown.

However, the Directress needs some finesse and proactive approach to guiding the children toward work that is appropriate to their skill level, incorporating new and exciting skills and and the same time, giving just the right amount of challenge.

Waiting for a new lesson can be hard, but it helps the child to develop self control, Montessori called "the development of the will".  She felt that a strong willed child was one who was able to follow direction, able to conduct himself in a non-disruptive way, considerate of others and aware of the needs of his community. 
Of course, this is a process....the children are hardly expected to behave without repeated practice in these and many other "desirable qualitites".  This job requires patience, and techniques that are not innate to the adults in our society.  It requires good training, and also further professional development and support in implementing this unique approach to education.

Good luck!

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