My son is in a school that started out as a Montessori school, but is now struggling to be a charter school. He is 9 y/o and in the third grade, but working on a 4th grade level. (The cut off for school here is Sept. and his birthday is in Oct.) The school still has many aspects of Montessori, but is not completely Montessori. They kids have stations all over the class for various subjects, work independently and collectively, choose their own work within a subject....
It is great for some kids, not so great for others. For my ds, it is a catch 22 - he needs to be able to work at his own pace (ahead of the crowd, if I may brag) but he really needs the structure of a public school - this is your desk, you need to stay in it and do your work, and the lack of choices in what work he does. When given choices, my ds is fickle... he will go back and forth until he is out of time and then the work is late! When given the opportunity to get up and walk around to choose the work, he will wander and check out what the other kids are doing, or fool around. He is very intelligent, but has no common sense, it seems. It is a struggle. We have spoken to the teacher and aide and asked that he be given as much structure as they can within the boundries of the class.
It seems to be helping a little, but if he doesn't realize that he needs to hold up his end, too, he will be going back to public school. I hate to do that b/c they will NOT work with him at his speed. He has to do what the class is doing - and we live in a predominately poor area, and the classes seem to be on the slower end of the educational scale. He would be bored to tears and getting into trouble all the time.
Another problem with this particular school is that for a time, it was labeled "Alternative" and quickly became a catch all for learning disabled kids. Kids with ADD, ADHD and Downs Syndrome. There are 15 kids in my ds's class, and of those, there is one with DS, 3 with ADD and 2 with ADHD. Then there are the kids who are just a little slower - not disabled, just struggling to get by. We chose this school because of its affiliation with a local university and the reputation it had earned as a Montessori school. Now we are questioning our decision. There is very little to choose from in this area. We are taking it one month at a time right now. In my opinion, the kids with severe learning disabilities are a huge distraction in the class. I feel my kid is not getting all that we are paying (so dearly) for. If the teacher needs to seperate herself from the class with these kids to give them one on one attention, it is taking away from my son. I could go on and on... but I won't.
I think, in theory, they are good schools. They really let the child explore and learn at their own pace and with hands on... but they (the school, teachers...) really need to be monitored closely.