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Aren't there goals to achieve in a Montessori school?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
Our daughter is in the first grade at a Montessori school here in Germany (I'm a service member, married to a German). It's difficult for me to get used to the Montessori philosophy and I've been reading alot about it. I'm doing my best to support this 100 percent. We have some friends who live in America and their daughter is in Montessori for about four years now (including kindergarten). The school in America uses weekly goals (apparently mutually agreed to by student and teacher) to guide her during the week. In my daughter's school they don't do this. To me, it seems like the teachers (there are two in her class) are lazy and take the easy route of not motivating her. My daughter is also scared to ask the second teacher how to do this or that and to bring problems to her attention.

My wife handles the parent/teacher meetings because 1) she is German and speaks their lingling (I am fluent but she always takes the lead in dealing with German things); 2) she (like most Europeans) works way less hours during the week than my poor American behind and 3) The school is too far away for me to just pop in during the work day. When we are able to attend a parent/teacher together, I usually just back her up by looking mean and saying "Ja, was Sie sagte!" (Yeah, what she said!)

I like the idea of letting kids go it alone but I also like the idea of helping kids to formulate plans and develop goals to strive for. We try to do this since the teachers don't seem to want to be bothered with it.

Can I get some thoughts on this?

And please don't flame me for not being a good Montessori parent...I'm trying.
post #2 of 6
When my stepdaughter was in Montessori for 1st grade, she had a weekly 'contract' that had spaces for the different subject areas and the work for the week. She would shade in what had got accomplished during the day, and the teachers would keep tabs on where she was at, and provide guidance if some areas were being neglected. By grade 3, they were also using agendas to plan their work.
post #3 of 6
My son has always had weekly contracts to complete. The last week of the month is usually a "make-up week" for anyone who needs to finish up any outstanding goals.

I'm concerned that your daughter isn't comfortable asking for help from the assistant teacher. The teachers should be encouraging an atmosphere of trust in the classroom.

Do other parents have similar concerns and experiences as yours? Does the lead teacher seem receptive to parents' concerns? If talking to the teacher doesn't get results, you may need to have a chat with the school director.

You're being a great Montessori parent--active and involved! Good luck!
post #4 of 6
there are, in the US, two basic styles of montessori. AMS, which is a little modified (and contains a broader range of teaching styles), and AMI, based in europe, that considers itself more traditional in their interpretation of montessori. I have seen the contract thing in an AMS school at older levels, esp with children that will probably be transitioning to a traditional school soon agewise but I doubt you'd see it in an AMI school - just guessing you'd be more likely to be in the latter type.

There *are* goals - children have to work through different lessons in order to progress to new kinds of work, although they don't have a set timeline for doing so. Knowing what kind of work lies ahead might help you see what she's working towards - and maybe her too! (you can ask, have you had a lesson on X yet?) Books for montessori teachers might be helpful if you're not able to talk to the teacher easily to know what kind of goals they have for her - most teachers will gently and indirectly guide her towards these goals as I understand it. e&r is a montessori teacher, you might pm her to ask for her insight.
post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 
thank you, mommastar2, anotherKatrina and, Clarity, for your words of wisdom. I hadn't heard of the AMS v. AMI thing. The "more traditional interpretation" in Europe explains quite a bit. There are other parents that have similar problems but it seems like my wife and I are the only ones talking about weekly goals. There is just so much resistance to making the kids accountable for their time. We always ask our daughter what she did in school that day and what she plans on doing the next. Sometimes my wife tells her that she wants her to do this or that (I tend to stay away from that much input and I would rather help her figure out what she needs to do to start adding the 100's or what not). I understand the need to progress through one thing in order to get the next but is this rule fast and hard? For example, our daughter wanted to learn to write in cursive. First she had to do four "Reading Boxes" (printing) and then she could move on to cursive. She worked her little but off and finished the four boxes in two or three weeks. She was so excited to learn cursive. When she told the teacher she wanted to do cursive now, the teacher gave her four more boxes of printing. It's the same as the other four boxes and she is proficient by now. Her little heart broke. So...we borrowed some workbook pages from a friend of ours who is a grade school teacher and Justine is working on her cursive at home.

Anyway, I could go on and on but I've got to catch up with the work I've missed while we were skiing this week. Thanks again for the advice and thoughts.

Take care......
post #6 of 6
yeah, they seem pretty rigid about the progression...but the speed of it might be the teacher's interpretation. I would have your wife ask the teacher what she's looking for in the printing - that your daughter is anxious to go on. There might be some element missing (or that the teacher *thinks* is missing - like the neatness, or straightness - just guessing - someone else with more experience at the higher levels would know better.) Some friends have reported to me that their child's montessori teacher did seem to be delaying in some things, either for their convenience or to space out or group together what different children were working on. Here, for instance some schools only have a primary class age 3-6, so if you child needs more challenging work, sometimes they don't have the materials available and the child doesn't move forward like they should.

In the meantime, I agree - though it might not be the best montessori parenting moment. I'd have bought the worksheets for use at home while you figure out what to do at school.

The other complicating thing is that AMI is a certifying body. AMS has a lot of levels from certified down to "we subscribe to the newletter" or something - there's a huge range in what people call montessori - so it can be very hard to compare from what you see with friend's kids. Some are traditional classrooms that use a montessori material once in a while, others are very intensely montessori but may make some curriculum changes that make them unacceptable to AMI - like shortening work time once or twice a week for language lessons for instance.

But whether this is "normal" or not, I personally would be uncomfortable that your is getting discouraged because she doesn't understand what's required before she can move on - and may not be comfortable enough to ask. Sounds demoralizing for her, but I think something that can get resolved at school with your help.
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