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my new 1st grader miserable

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Hello, this my first post anywhere, so hope I am following protocol well...

My son started at a montessori this year in first grade. He is 7. He has a mild form of Sensory Integration Dysfunction (SID). This is not a learning disability nor has he not ever met any developemetal milestones. Many children (and adults) have this and don't know. Also, most teachers are not familiar with SID.

My son cannot spend large amounts of time writing because he becomes fatigued. He is also hypersensitve and has to work in a quiet corner to concentrate. He learns very well in short bursts. (His comprehension was tested as an 11 year-old, however his motor skills are at about a 5 year-old) The class is set up where he has to finish his language (writing) by lunch or he cannot participate in recess until it is finished. Heavy physical activity is the conerstone to organizing, calming and integrating the nervous system, so this makes things even worse. He hates school, (he has alway been an avid and excellent learner and lovbed every other school) and is so busy trying to finish his writing, that he never has time to enjoy the other materials in the class.

I have had meetings with the teachers and the Director trying to explain his needs, and given them copies of his O.T's reports as well as info on SID. We havn't made much progress.

I feel I am just one small pebble with no clout at this school. I have always been involved in my children's schools (on the boards, running the PTA)but here I feel like an outsider and I am not sure where to get more info or ideas to help me help the teachers, help my son.

We live in a small city and I don't have many other school options.

Any suggestions?
Thank you and sorry for the length. This SID stuff requires lots of info.
post #2 of 12
I find the situation rather odd and IMO, un-Montessori. One of the great things we've always enjoyed about Montessori is the ability to adapt to the needs of the student. I am amazed that his teachers haven't worked with him to find a way for him to meet his work goals w/out depriving him of outside time (a MUST for all children) or keeping him from working on other subjects.

What does the staff say when you discuss this with them?
post #3 of 12
Hi Sandy,
My heart goes out to you! My son was also diagnosed with Sensory Integration Dysfunction a little over a year ago. He has made vast improvements since then through occupational therapy and changing him to a Montessori school. I am sad to hear your son's teachers are being so, what seems to me sorry, but narrow-minded. I am no expert on Montessori but I never heard of a child being made to finish up a writing assignment before being allowed to go outside. Especially if the teachers are informed that this (writing) is difficult for your son (as it was at first for my son). The whole idea of Montessori is that children can work at their own pace. I am sorry the teachers are not working with you! This does not sound right. I was under the opinion that the Montessori system is especially good for children with SID because so many of the teaching materials are so sensorial. I love Montessori but if this is the only Montessori school where you live I might consider changing if they do not become more understanding!
Keep us updated and good luck!


[QUOTE=Sandykf My son started at a montessori this year in first grade. He is 7. He has a mild form of Sensory Integration Dysfunction (SID). This is not a learning disability nor has he not ever met any developemetal milestones. Many children (and adults) have this and don't know. Also, most teachers are not familiar with SID.

My son cannot spend large amounts of time writing because he becomes fatigued. He is also hypersensitve and has to work in a quiet corner to concentrate. He learns very well in short bursts. (His comprehension was tested as an 11 year-old, however his motor skills are at about a 5 year-old) The class is set up where he has to finish his language (writing) by lunch or he cannot participate in recess until it is finished. Heavy physical activity is the conerstone to organizing, calming and integrating the nervous system, so this makes things even worse. He hates school, (he has alway been an avid and excellent learner and lovbed every other school) and is so busy trying to finish his writing, that he never has time to enjoy the other materials in the class.

I have had meetings with the teachers and the Director trying to explain his needs, and given them copies of his O.T's reports as well as info on SID. We havn't made much progress.

I feel I am just one small pebble with no clout at this school. I have always been involved in my children's schools (on the boards, running the PTA)but here I feel like an outsider and I am not sure where to get more info or ideas to help me help the teachers, help my son.

We live in a small city and I don't have many other school options.

Any suggestions?
Thank you and sorry for the length. This SID stuff requires lots of info.[/QUOTE]
post #4 of 12
I agree that requiring any child to finish any work is not very *montessori*. I don't know much about SID but I do believe a montessori environment would be helpful with this disorder, more so than a traditional education. But as I'm sure you've realized not all Montessori schools are the same and neither are all M teachers. I would really talk to the teacher and admin again and see what can be done, IMO something isn't right if a child is being forced to do something he doesn't want to do in order to go to recess!?!?!? Plus you have the issues with SID to deal with. I really hope you are able to make things better for your ds, the most important thing regarding education at this age is to have a love for learning and not the work itself.
post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 

Thank you

Thanks for the response.
Conferences are coming next week and I will dicuss again with the teachers. With each new week of OT, the therapist and I learn more what we can suggest for my son in the class.

We have tried many suggesstions. I offed to buy a bean bag for the class. The Director said that that might prevent the children from working and just wanting to relax and read: I offered the idea that when they take bathroom breaks at the top of the hour to include some jumping jacks, wall push-ups or other quick physical actvities. They were worried that it would key them up and would be unable to settle back into working. Of course, just the opposite is true, the neuro-sensorial systems responds by becoming calmed, integrated and organized.

I have no problem in helping to educate them, I just hope it happens before my ds gets lost in the system.

Apparently, both the teachers in the class are inexperienced lead teachers, with one about to finish his masters in Montessori and the other without Montessori experience. Also, this young school moved to a new location this year and added more classes. My ds is in a class with many students who had not had Montessori experience before. The teachers have been trying very hard to get control of the room. I think they are afraid to disrupt any rhythms now that it is running fairly smooth

Is there a resource that I can bring with me when I meet with them that shows recess is important and that finishing the writing isn't necessarily Montessori?

Thanks again,
Mom of Adem and Jasin
post #6 of 12
HI SandyF
I am an OT, sending a quick post and support, will post more later with some ideas, my dd is needing me right at the second !
post #7 of 12
Would it be possible for the OT to go with you to a conference, or call and talk to the director and teachers?

An "expert" opinion may sway them more than you as a parent (I know it is BS but anything to help right?).

I agree with the PP, this does not sound very "Montessori" to me. If it was a truly Mont. elementary program he would be able to complete his work at his own pace, maybe 1/2 before lunch and 1/2 after. In a Montessori classroom not everyone is working at the same thing at the same time, so him changing when he does his writing should not be disruptive at all. The other children should be engaged in their own independent work and they would not even notice.

Also, what is with the bathroom breaks at a certain time? Why is that? 1st graders should be independent enough to bathroom as needed.

As much as the Montessori materials may be really beneficial to your son, if he can't use them, is frustrated in school, and the teachers are having such a hard time and not really experienced, is this the best place for him?

Also !!
post #8 of 12
I also feel this environment you describe is very UN Montessori. My ds1 doesn't like writing and was not required to do any. He was free to choose which activities we wanted to pursue. There were things that he did because for milestones and petagogy (sp sorry) he needed to do, but they were not 'forced' on him with a consequence. That mind set is so wrong for a Montessori school.

I think you would be much better off learning about Montessori and the different accreditations, then search out a new school for next year. Around here the best Montessori school will not accept a child into the elementary program, if the child was not in Montessori to begin with like at age 3.
post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 

re: 1st grader miserable

All of you are making me feel so supported. It is hard to find support for this subject just anywhere.

I am committed to be the "squeaky wheel". I am going to keep the dialog open with the school staff, continue with OT, and research ways to hep make a difference in the classroom that is within the Montessori guidelines. I appreciate any info I can get.

As far as the bathroom, they were going alone, but there was some issue with the bathroom, so for safety they are being monitored for now.

Honestly, there are few options here. The local public school is at about 200% capacity and on a year-round schedule. My children would have to attend all 3 summer months.

Thanks again,
Sandy
[EMAIL="rhrsandy@sbcglobal.net"]
post #10 of 12
I'm glad that you are finding the courage to speak out and get your child what he needs.

As for the year round school thing, totally off-topic I know. Our public school is on a modified year round and I think it's really brilliant (from an outsiders perspective obviously LOL). I know that my kids love summer but it does wear on and by August they are nutso. The kids at PS go something like 6 weeks on, 2 weeks off. They really seem to like it. From a childcare perspective it must be a nightmare for parents but it seems to work well for the children. The only thing I'm not sure about is how they segue back into work after every break. I can femember being young and needed nearly a week just to get back into the swing of things.
post #11 of 12
HI! I was just reading back through your original post and had an idea: is there any way you could help him get some "heavy physical exercise" in the morning, like walking or biking to school/aerobics or yoga video, etc. I think it would work even if he goes for lots of exercise in the afternoons, too.
These are the references for movement in Montessori's writings:
The Absorbent Mind, Chapter 13; The Discovery of the Child, Chapter 6; Education for a New World, Chapter 8; The Secret of Childhood, Pg. 96; M. Montessori, Her Life & Work (E.M. Standing), Chapter 12.
post #12 of 12
[QUOTE=jalilah] Especially if the teachers are informed that this (writing) is difficult for your son (as it was at first for my son). The whole idea of Montessori is that children can work at their own pace. I was under the opinion that the Montessori system is especially good for children with SID because so many of the teaching materials are so sensorial.

Jalilah, you mentioned that it was difficult for your son "at first", can you try to pinpoint a little what may have changed this? I am assuming that you mean by this that it is no longer quite so difficult for him? Do you think that it is the didactic materials or the work at your own pace? Just some ideas to throw around that might be helpful.
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