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Montessori and Boys (Active, Ones!)

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
I went to visit/observe one of my two local Montessori schools last week. I have two sons... one who would be in the Toddler program, the other in the 3-6 year old program. I loved the Toddler program... and can totally see my little one thriving. My concern about the 3-6 year old program is that my son is such an active little guy... and the classroom was so quiet. It was also 3/4s girls... which is fine... but I'm wondering if a very active boy might stand out like a sore thumb. I'm OK with sending my younger boy and finding a different fit for my older son... but am just wondering if others have had issues with active boys.

My dream would be a preschool/Kindergarten just for boys.
post #2 of 19
My son was positively transformed by Montessori.

Within 3 weeks, he was talking quietly, working independently and talking about "respecting the materials". This from a kid who screamed every word (not mad or freaking out, just way loud), required my presence to eat, poop, play, whatever, and ate crayons.

The environment is so well controlled (in a positive way, I think) and quiet that he naturally just fell into line. I'm looking forward to seeing how my all boy Atticus does in the fall.

HTH!
post #3 of 19
Have you read "The Minds of Boys" by Michael Gurien? (think that is the spelling!). A couple of times in that book he recommends observation of a Montessori classroom for the fact the environment is set up perfectly for active boys and he clearly lists the important things boys need, also I watche Raising Cain and that again, talked about all the things that Montessori classrooms generally have.

In a good schools the classes are light, airy, spacious with room to move around. There is no curriculum as such, so recess is still important and honoured. The practical and tactile activities are perfect for boys who one the whole (sweeping generalisation of course!) tend to be more kinesthetic in their learning. Reading is not forced, they are shown the sandpaper letters and the sand formation of letters eons before they are ever given a book. I could probably write tons more, but I do recommend reading the book and then observing.

I think it is a wonderful environment for most boys and fwiw I have two!!
post #4 of 19
I would be sure and observe CAREFULLY--I was an assistant at a montessori school for 3 years and it was NOT the kind of place I would want to send my spirited son-there were several boys kicked out for behavior problems while I was there, and one girl- none of them were serious problems in my mind, and 2 of them were students in the class where I assisted. Any place can call itself a montessori school, it isn't trademarked, so ask questions and observe a lot. For instance, in one classroom children were YELLED at for touching materials before they had had a lesson. YELLED at. 3 year olds. A lot depends on the teacher.
Rachel
post #5 of 19
Thread Starter 
I think Rachel hit the nail on the head when she said a lot depended on the teacher. This teacher seemed really frazzled by kids who did not do what "they should." It really seemed to bother her. I think they have a few 3-6 year old classes, so I'm going to see if I can observe a different class.

I haven't read that book by Michael Gurian, but have recently read his "The Good Son." I really enjoyed it.
post #6 of 19
Hi! I did a search for "gender differences Montessori" on google and it came up with alot of interesting information.
Because of the individualized nature of the Montessori philosophy, many different learning styles and abilities can be accomodated in the environment, although, as you said, this definitely depends on a flexible and skilled Directress. I feel that the freedom for movement and activity makes Montessori ideal for children of either gender who are very active.
Here is something interesting I found in "Montessori: The Science behind the Genius" by Angeline Lillard. She says "Along with academic skills and knowledge, children in Montessori learn to control their movements to an end, to make choices, to get along with others, to work as part of a community, to concentrate, and so on. Those skills are as relevant for boys as they are for girls. In fact, given the higher prevalence of attention and reading problems in boys generally, Montessori, with its special work on attention and on phonemic analysis at early ages, might be especially beneficial to boys. One of the two major Head Start studies using random assignment showed Montessori particularly benefits boys (Miller & Bizzell, 1984)."
She does not state information about the higher prevalence of attention and reading problems for boys, but this is probably easy to find.
post #7 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by arwenevenstar View Post
Have you read "The Minds of Boys" by Michael Gurien? (think that is the spelling!). A couple of times in that book he recommends observation of a Montessori classroom for the fact the environment is set up perfectly for active boys and he clearly lists the important things boys need, also I watche Raising Cain and that again, talked about all the things that Montessori classrooms generally have.

In a good schools the classes are light, airy, spacious with room to move around. There is no curriculum as such, so recess is still important and honoured. The practical and tactile activities are perfect for boys who one the whole (sweeping generalisation of course!) tend to be more kinesthetic in their learning. Reading is not forced, they are shown the sandpaper letters and the sand formation of letters eons before they are ever given a book. I could probably write tons more, but I do recommend reading the book and then observing.

I think it is a wonderful environment for most boys and fwiw I have two!!
What she said.

My active boy is thriving. I actually like that there are 7 girls and 3 boys in his school. He has two girls that are his best buddies and I think they balance each other nicely.
post #8 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by reepicheep View Post
I would be sure and observe CAREFULLY--I was an assistant at a montessori school for 3 years and it was NOT the kind of place I would want to send my spirited son-there were several boys kicked out for behavior problems while I was there, and one girl- none of them were serious problems in my mind, and 2 of them were students in the class where I assisted. Any place can call itself a montessori school, it isn't trademarked, so ask questions and observe a lot. For instance, in one classroom children were YELLED at for touching materials before they had had a lesson. YELLED at. 3 year olds. A lot depends on the teacher.
Rachel
I would certainly take that valid point. A good teacher and good school makes a big difference. I observed a couple in the UK which appalled me (use of a labelled "naughty chair" in one!!!!!!!!!!!!) yet the one we are at here in the US is fabulous - seriously fabulous! Observe several if you can.
post #9 of 19
Yeah, I think Montessori can be perfect for active boys, but so much depends on the teacher and the school atmosphere. My active daughter as actually having trouble in one (otherwise a wonderful, idyllic school) for being too active and not controlled enough.

Actually, one year I taught a class of three year olds (non Montessori) that just by coincidence of enrollment wound up being all boys. I incorporated a lot of Montessori activities into it and we played outside a LOT, sang lots of pirate songs, and the house corner got less use than usual. (Well, as a house. A couple of them liked to climb on the stove, grab the strings to the blinds and try to swing from them.) It was a VERY active, high energy class, and I loved it! It was such a great year. The parents were all so happy too. Are there any all boy schools near you? I think for some kids they can be great. Schools in general are so anti boy, in my opinion, especially for little ones. We just dont value as a school culture boy traits!
post #10 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Terabith View Post
Yeah, I think Montessori can be perfect for active boys, but so much depends on the teacher and the school atmosphere. My active daughter as actually having trouble in one (otherwise a wonderful, idyllic school) for being too active and not controlled enough.
Will you please explain a little more about this? I've been lurking a lot on the M board because I'd like to put both my ds and dd in M. Both of my children are "active" so this concerns me a little. My ds actually loves to focus intently when he's involved in work, but I can see my dd being more distractable in a school environment, she's more of a social butterfly.

I did observe an AMI Montessori 3 years ago -- all of the children in all of the classes (infant through hs) were so focused on their work and it was very, very quiet. I've always wondered where the "loud" kids were -- maybe they were systematically eliminated because of "behavioral" issues?
post #11 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by LauraLoo View Post
I did observe an AMI Montessori 3 years ago -- all of the children in all of the classes (infant through hs) were so focused on their work and it was very, very quiet. I've always wondered where the "loud" kids were -- maybe they were systematically eliminated because of "behavioral" issues?
When in the school year did you visit? I ask because if you observe in the beginning of the year, when there are many new students, most classrooms are not nearly as quiet and focused as they will be several months in, when the students have "normalized" (a Montessori concept).

A GOOD Montessori teacher will help children discover the work that will engage them, and lead to that (quiet) state of focus. And a good school will understand that this takes time, and that children will not always be engaged in this way every moment of the work period.
post #12 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by kaydee View Post
When in the school year did you visit? I ask because if you observe in the beginning of the year, when there are many new students, most classrooms are not nearly as quiet and focused as they will be several months in, when the students have "normalized" (a Montessori concept).
It was in November -- so the children must have been normalized by then.
post #13 of 19
Well, there were several issues with my daughter, who was not quite three at the time we removed her (mid October) and she was in a toddler class. She had started in the toddler class in February of last school year and loved it (at 2 yrs 3 months). However, she was one of the younger children in the class. Come September, most of her friends went on to the 3-6 class, but because of ratios and state regulations, children who were not yet three could not be promoted, so she was still in the toddler class. (Which I loved. It was run very, very well - fantastic teacher; the materials were at her level, etc). But she missed her friends and felt she was in the baby class. She has always been very active physically and socially and she began having some behavior issues (running in the classroom, being disruptive in circle, not using materials properly, being silly) and her self confidence plummetted. I felt that the issues were all addressed very well; it was non punishing, etc. But Anna didn't want to go to school. She went willingly (not crying or screaming, but she just didn't want to go.) But finally I talked with the director (who is very pro AP), who said, "You know, it sounds like for whatever reason, she isn't happy at school this year. You are raising her in a very gentle way. You seem want to take her out of school but are afraid of messing with normalization or Montessori. You are absolved. The heart of Montessori is listening to your child. Take her out for a few days and see how she reacts. If she responds positively, take her out for a few months or a year and then try again, whatever your heart says. We love her and you and will welcome you back whenever." So I took her out and she was relieved and happier. It was only 2.5 hrs a day, and again, six months previously she had LOVED the class. It is possible that at almost three and with friends in the 3-6 class, if she had been in the children's house she would have been fine and happy. I loved her toddler teacher and was sorry to pull her out, but it was absolutely the right thing to do. We try to have an hour and a half work period at home with practical life and sensorial activities (mostly practical life). It isn't the same, but I try to respect her independence and concentration. I think Anna was mad about her friends and also very physically active and the room for toddlers was smaller and the toddler playground was inadequate for her to get her energy out. I loved her school and I plan to send her back, maybe in September or possibly I will send her to a 2 or 3 day morning play school next yr at three and start her and my younger child together when Anna is four and Catherine is three. We'll see what Anna says then.
post #14 of 19
My active 3 year old son is absolutely thriving in Montessori. It's a small private school with only 7 students, but the teacher is absolutely great. My son bonded with her quickly and easily. 4 of the 7 students are girls, and 3 of them are older than my son. They do tend to be "clique-ish", but I hear that's normal for girls.
post #15 of 19
This is all good to know. I have a very active little guy too. I am visiting a few Montessori schools in the next few weeks and am interested to learn a little more about this from observing the classrooms and talking to the directresses. I'm feeling optimistic though!
post #16 of 19
My spirited boy (suspect ODD) is thriving at his school. He is still active and bright and always on the go, but controllable and (self) controlled. I think the environment is set up for success. His worst behavior is running out of the classroom (2 open doors) witout permission when he sees me pick up his sister (she leaves earlier), I can handle that.
post #17 of 19
My 6 year old son is in his third year of Montessori (same class and same teacher). The first year he had yet been diagnosed with ADHD and Aspergers and I expected him to be expelled the whole time. The last two years with the medication and understanding of his issues he has done beautifully. I credit his teacher 100%. Without her support and patience we would probably still be undiagnosed, frustrated and isolated. For us Montessori has been the best thing for my son.
post #18 of 19
My son spent his Kindergarten year in a 3-6 class at a public Montessori school in Cincinnati. At first, it was fine, he was doing "well" and liked that he could go from station to station doing his work. About halfway through, during a parent teacher conference, the teacher basically went off on us about my son's "bad behavior", she clearly couldnt handle normal boy energy. It was really bad. My son said that when one child wouldnt stop drawing to come over to group time, she went over and tore his picture in half, then threw it in the garbage. When my son brought cupcakes for his birthday, his father was instructed which kids were not allowed to have one because they hadnt been "good" that day. I asked for a conference with the principal, and told her (teacher was present)that i didnt think it was helpful to be angry with my son for having extra energy, and then as punishment take away his recess. The principal said that should never be done, the teacher blamed the teacher assistant. It was really terrible. I was ready to homeschool at that point (which had been my original plan all along)but my son wanted to give it another try.

His 6-9 class was better, in that his teacher didnt seem to hate kids, but the asst was like a drill sergeant. This classroom didnt seem at all like the K class, where the kids had contracts and went around to little stations to do work. No, in this class, the kids had workbooks and dittoes. Totally not for my son. It got to the point where i was having to literally drag him into school, he was refusing to go. So i quit my job, moved closer to family, and we are happily unschooling, and have been for over three years.

So thats my Montessori story. Before he enrolled in this one, which was located in a kinda ritzy area, i think it may still have been public, can't really remember. It was located in a beautiful huge old mansion, tons of kids there. I observed for about an hour, and i noticed one child who was having trouble sitting still and cutting out circles or whatever it was they were doing. The teacher was having to constantly redirect him, he seemed really to not want to be doing that activity. Many of the other children were doing their work nice and quietly. There was so much artwork and manipulatives around the room (and yet it seemed the kids were doing lots of ditto type work), and i could not see my son just sitting at a table cutting out circles when there was so much else to look, touch, play with. When speaking with a person from admissions, i point blank told her my son was quite hyper/energetic/spirited and how would they handle that? She immediately brought up medication,and said that she supposed if the parents insisted on not medicating they would have to work with the child on some sort of behavior plan. It really bothered me.

Even though i have philosophical issues with the idea of having to "teach" a child, I do think the Montessori method itself was not such a bad thing for my son. However, i don't think any classroom is really the *best* environment for an active boy. I would caution you to really observe and see which teachers seem to enjoy boisterous boys, and try to get that teacher for your child.


Katherine
post #19 of 19
High energy kids often mean high amounts of mental ability, too That is what I have found while teaching. The right teacher will make the difference, but the freedom of movement for an active child, where they are not shamed if they can't sit in their seat, etc., saves a child's confidence. I had one mom who talked to me about moving her child to a standard public school because she thought he was too active for the Montessori public school class--he was the only one she thought was very spirited in the class(haha if she had come in during the month of September!!hahaha!), when she came for observation. When I explained to her about his confidence, etc., she decided to keep him in--and he is now thriving in lower elementary. She has let me know that he was diagnosed w/ADHD, but they are continuing to try w/behavioral modification, diet, so they don't have to worry about drugs in his system. When he started the year, he was almost running up the walls--I swear-- but he improved dramatically. Working w/the teacher is essential. Most likely, she will love the joy your child brings to the classroom with his excitement over learning! It is all about channeling that energy!!
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