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Toys and structure at Montessori schools?

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
Hi, I'm considering a montessori preschool for my 3-year old DS. We live in Los Angeles area. I went to one last month and it felt very sterile and cold. There are a few others around here. DS is highly energetic, outgoing, loves the outdoors (dirt and mud are his favorite playthings), and one more thing, he LOVES trucks and cars and other vehicles.

I didn't notice any of these toys at the Montess. school I visited, do you know if these toys are just not played with there? DS is spirited and doesn't do well with circle time, for example, since he would rather play.

What do you think? Do you think he is a good candidate for montessori school or would be too structured for him? I'm considering Waldorf too, but there is a definite structure there too although different. Will he get used to transitioning from one activity to another?

He's also interested in academics, highly curious about language and has long attention span for books, so I think he will benefit for some academic preschool rather than just freeplay.

post #2 of 3
Hi there--I'm not a Montessori parent, but wanted to respond to your post until someone else checks in. It can be so hard to choose preschool for your little one. If you look through the past threads on this subforum, there is a lot of info about Montessori schools. Moms have also asked the question re: spirited children and Montessori and/or Waldorf. As moderator I have gotten the impression that schools are vastly different from one another and follow strict Montessori ways to various degrees. Some people have complained that their spirited child did not do well in Montessori and/or that the teachers did not view their child in the way they did. Others have been very happy with their choice. Check some past threads, and of course, others should be around to help out soon!
post #3 of 3

They don't miss the toys...

DD came to a Montessori school after a year at a toy-filled co-op. Her M school has no toys. None. But they have a complete set of Montessori materials that are so varied, unusual and compelling that the children don't miss the toys!

At first DD called her old school the "toy school" and the new one the "work school" (many Montessori schools do not call their activities "play", out of respect for the child and the time and effort they put into what they do). But after a very short transition, she would say, "We don't have toys because the things we have are REAL." They don't need a play kitchen and plastic food, because they have a real kitchen, make their own snack from real food, and eat at a properly-set table (from china plates!). They don't do "arts and crafts" projects, but they use high-quality watercolors on heavy art paper. They don't have cartoon-character puzzles, but the map puzzle work they do is so fun that by five DD knew the continents of the world, states of the US, and countries of South America *by choice*!

As for the outdoors, I had no idea a child could get so dirty going to school! They do gardening and woodworking, as well as playing-in-the-mud at recess.

DD's school doesn't require children to come to group time if they are otherwise occupied and are not disturbing the group. The class atmosphere is pretty calm, because the kids are so focused on their interesting work (and because the teacher and assistant model calmness and quiet voices).

The Montessori method is very different from what I've seen at traditional schools, and some people find it hard to fathom, but we are sold 100%. DD will stay through elementary, which was not in our plans when we started. We love it!
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