help me sort out my feelings about Montessori for 3-6 year olds - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 26 Old 01-17-2010, 10:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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DP and I have been visiting preschools to choose one where DD will start in September as an almost-3 year old. We've visited 7 schools so far -- of these, 3 were Montessori. At most of these schools I've been able to sit and observe for an hour or so. I've also been reading quite a bit about Montessori.

There's a great deal that I like about Montessori approach -- I really appreciate:
- the kids' freedom to choose what they will work on, and when, and how long
- the way Montessori supports and values children's focus, concentration, and independence
- the relative calm and quiet of Montessori classrooms
- the incremental, hands-on approach to learning
- the sense of order -- DD definitely seems to have been born with a strong drive to make sure everything is in its place, just so
- the real-world materials and objects (getting to wash real dishes, pour one's own juice, etc.)

One of the schools we visited goes through 8th grade, and I was REALLY impressed by the higher grades (roughly 4th through 8th grade) -- it seemed like a truly wonderful way to learn, the students were very impressive.

But "authentic" Montessori for 3-6 year olds just isn't quite clicking for me. I finally realized that part of what I love about this age group (it's always been my favorite age) is their exuberant joy and silliness. Montessori classrooms don't feel joyful to me. I should clarify: I'm a pretty serious, academically-minded person, and I definitely "get" the quiet joy of focusing on meaningful work. But my experience is that there are fewer smiles and less laughter among the children in Montessori primary classrooms than in non-Montessori preschools.

I'm not a happy-happy-all-the-time-put-a-smile-on-your-face kind of person. But kids in Montessori classrooms often seem quite serious. Isn't 3-6 sort of one's last chance to just be silly and dance around, and sing songs with talking animals and snowpeople, and dress up in a feather boa and a fireman hat? Isn't there plenty of time later to be serious?

I'm not asking this question to be negative -- I can absolutely see why many people love Montessori, and how it could be a great choice. But since my current leaning against it comes down to the joy/silliness quotient, I thought I'd post my thoughts and let others respond.
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#2 of 26 Old 01-17-2010, 11:25 PM
 
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I'm not a happy-happy-all-the-time-put-a-smile-on-your-face kind of person. But kids in Montessori classrooms often seem quite serious. Isn't 3-6 sort of one's last chance to just be silly and dance around, and sing songs with talking animals and snowpeople, and dress up in a feather boa and a fireman hat? Isn't there plenty of time later to be serious?

I'm not asking this question to be negative -- I can absolutely see why many people love Montessori, and how it could be a great choice. But since my current leaning against it comes down to the joy/silliness quotient, I thought I'd post my thoughts and let others respond.
Well I choked at the "last chance" thing. I SHOULD HOPE NOT. Ahem.

My son's in Montessori, although it's not a rigid one in that other toys come out for the aftercare. I have not noticed a lack of silliness and joy in him, although of course I'm not there observing all the time. And of course I'm also invested in our choice.

I do think that you're right that it's not particularly...sparkly in that sense.

For our family and my son though, I really do prefer that.

Not only are we silly at home, but I have an almost visceral aversion to the kind of "RAH KIDS GET UP AND DANCE" kind of group care, mostly because for me the chances of 10-12 kids all wanting that at the same time is pretty slim...unless it's a special day/time. I also remember being completely wigged out by it when I was in junior kindergarten (4 yrs old). I HATE being TOLD to be silly. I hated it then and I hate it now.

I toured a lot of preschools and daycares and I just found that personally...it felt uncomfortable to me when the teachers were providing the enthusiasm. Now if the kids are, that's a little different. At our school, I do see the kids being silly...last winter there was a mound of snow they called the "fafa" hill and there were all kinds of elaborate things going on there. But it was during outdoor playtime that it was going on. I think that's a good balance, at least for us.

Even if it were a little unbalanced (and that's not exactly our experience; my son comes home with all kinds of jokes, etc.) - I don't believe any school can provide everything. For our family, we have fairies that live at our house and stuff, so I really don't mind if the Montessori is calmer and more grounded in natural science. I would not like it if they were slapping the kids' flights of fancy down...but ours doesn't. I see loads of creative stuff there. It's just that what's handed from the teachers is more the wonder of the natural world, counting, and so on.

Clearly this is a personality thing but that's my response.

~ Mum to Emily, March 12-16 2004, Noah, born Aug 2005, Liam, born January 2011, and wife to Carl since 1994. ~
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#3 of 26 Old 01-17-2010, 11:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Well I choked at the "last chance" thing. I SHOULD HOPE NOT. Ahem.
Agreed! I vote for lifelong joy and silliness, for sure! But perhaps 3-6 is the last time there's so much cultural space for it, and perhaps the last time you can be so joyful and so silly without having to think about whether it's "right" or "OK" or care what others think.

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I would not like it if they were slapping the kids' flights of fancy down...but ours doesn't.
Two things I saw at the most peaceful (and in some ways, most appealing) of the three Montessori schools I visited:

A 3 year old picking up two miniature whale figurines and making them swim around in the air, saying quietly, "Whooooosh, whooooosh" was told that's not the correct way to use those figures. (In fact, before the teacher intervened, a 4 or 5 year old in the same class told him he wasn't allowed to do that. He ignored the kid but listened to the teacher). A teacher later sat down with him to show him how to match the whales up to the cards showing photos of whales, but he wasn't interested and left the activity. I know Montessori is about learning how to use materials in the correct ways, but it still made me a little sad. Does that count as "slapping a kid's flight of fancy down"?

I also watched a little boy happily do little jumps, and was told that was something to do outside but not in the classroom. Again, the feedback was sort of "civilizing" -- not a bad thing, but should it be OK to do little jumps indoors when you're 3 and not harming anyone or anything?

My sense is that the feedback these kids got from their Montessori teachers isn't unusual, but considered "authentic" to the method.

I do agree that there's still lots of time for being silly at home. But 4-5 mornings a week is a significant portion of a little kid's awake time.

I'm not trying to argue here, just to better understand how others think about this stuff.
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#4 of 26 Old 01-18-2010, 01:12 AM
 
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Agreed! I vote for lifelong joy and silliness, for sure! But perhaps 3-6 is the last time there's so much cultural space for it, and perhaps the last time you can be so joyful and so silly without having to think about whether it's "right" or "OK" or care what others think.



Two things I saw at the most peaceful (and in some ways, most appealing) of the three Montessori schools I visited:

A 3 year old picking up two miniature whale figurines and making them swim around in the air, saying quietly, "Whooooosh, whooooosh" was told that's not the correct way to use those figures. (In fact, before the teacher intervened, a 4 or 5 year old in the same class told him he wasn't allowed to do that. He ignored the kid but listened to the teacher). A teacher later sat down with him to show him how to match the whales up to the cards showing photos of whales, but he wasn't interested and left the activity. I know Montessori is about learning how to use materials in the correct ways, but it still made me a little sad. Does that count as "slapping a kid's flight of fancy down"?

I also watched a little boy happily do little jumps, and was told that was something to do outside but not in the classroom. Again, the feedback was sort of "civilizing" -- not a bad thing, but should it be OK to do little jumps indoors when you're 3 and not harming anyone or anything?

My sense is that the feedback these kids got from their Montessori teachers isn't unusual, but considered "authentic" to the method.

I do agree that there's still lots of time for being silly at home. But 4-5 mornings a week is a significant portion of a little kid's awake time.

I'm not trying to argue here, just to better understand how others think about this stuff.
I'm not sure I agree about the 3-6 being the last culturally sanctioned period - I know lots of silly 8 year olds, at least. No fart jokes at 2.

However, if it is your feeling I suspect that Montessori may not be where your heart is, because they see the child's engagement with the world as sort of - well I wouldn't say fundamentally serious exactly, but fundamentally geared towards growth and learning and wanting to be taken seriously and get involved in sort-of-adult things like caring for the home, and so on. That the child brings his or her own seriousness to the process.

And I have to say that fit my observations of my son really well. As I said, we have a pretty fanciful home. And it's not that he doesn't love to be silly (actually more and more - he's 4.5).

But what really lit his fire at 2.5 was to wash lentils with me or sweep or explore blocks in what I would say looked pretty serious in his attitude. That was much more ascendant during that time than the silly songs. I feel like respecting that attention and seriousness was a good move for us. I know grownups see childhood as light and joyful but I'm not convinced that's how the child experiences it a good deal of the time. I think both are important. I felt more comfortable with the fanciful stuff at our place.

For the specifics -

I'm pretty sure our school wouldn't be into jumping during the work cycle, no, at least if it involved actual thudding. It's great for the happy kid, but distracting for everyone else. However if there were a correction, I'm pretty sure there would be a smile first - in other words, there would be a shared enjoyment part, and then a reminder about the jumping bits.

For the whale, no, our school isn't that rigid about the components of the works exactly. What I think would happen in our school is that the teacher would notice, leave it be for a bit, and then offer the activity. Or might engage in some talking about whales. Again a similar kind of result but with some time in between. The way it's done is important. But that's one reason we went with our tiny Montessori - we liked the warmth to it and another one I toured felt colder.

I do think if you don't like what you're seeing, it's probably not a good fit. It's really important to go with your gut. I wanted to like Waldorf and I had all kinds of attempts at talking myself into it, but in the end, it just wasn't right for us.

~ Mum to Emily, March 12-16 2004, Noah, born Aug 2005, Liam, born January 2011, and wife to Carl since 1994. ~
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#5 of 26 Old 01-18-2010, 02:43 AM
 
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My 2yo attends a small Montessori school. His teacher has said that at this age, they are rooted in reality, not fantasy. This makes sense to me. Sure, he loves Elmo, but he thinks Elmo is real. He thinks it's great that Superman can fly, but he doesn't understand that it's just pretend. It is reality to him. He would rather stand at the sink and wash dishes with me anyday, over just about any other activity. It's what he sees DH and I doing on a daily basis, and there are so many learning opportunites gained from that practical life experience.

As for the whale situation, I think DS's teacher would have given him some time to explore the activity, and then engaged him in a conversation about whales, possibly even redirecting him to the intended activity. Montessori is a method of education, but the way in which it is implemented is specific to each teacher. Finding the right school and the right teacher is as important in a Montessori school as it would be in any school.

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#6 of 26 Old 01-18-2010, 04:05 AM
 
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We don't do Montessori. But what really resonanted to me was that you were looking for a "feeling" in the class, which is exactly what I look for in schools. I choose our preschool program because the kids were loud and talking and planning and obviously having a lot of fun. In contrast, I felt very uncomfortable with a class where the children were quiet.

I would encourage you to trust your "gut" impression. If the feeling doesn't resonate, then it's not a good "fit." Notice, I didn't say a "bad program," just a poor "fit" for what you feel is right for your family.
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#7 of 26 Old 01-18-2010, 04:57 AM
 
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A 3 year old picking up two miniature whale figurines and making them swim around in the air, saying quietly, "Whooooosh, whooooosh" was told that's not the correct way to use those figures. (In fact, before the teacher intervened, a 4 or 5 year old in the same class told him he wasn't allowed to do that. He ignored the kid but listened to the teacher). A teacher later sat down with him to show him how to match the whales up to the cards showing photos of whales, but he wasn't interested and left the activity. I know Montessori is about learning how to use materials in the correct ways, but it still made me a little sad. Does that count as "slapping a kid's flight of fancy down"?
At DS's Montessori school this would not happen. The child would b allowed to explore the work in multi faceted ways, as long as it was niether disruptive nor destructive. If the child was bumping into other students while doing it, they might be directed back to there rug and reminded to respect others space, but that is all.

A school that was this rigid would rub me the wrong way. However, many many very genuine Montessori schools do not interpret Dr Montessori's teaching in this manner.

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I also watched a little boy happily do little jumps, and was told that was something to do outside but not in the classroom. Again, the feedback was sort of "civilizing" -- not a bad thing, but should it be OK to do little jumps indoors when you're 3 and not harming anyone or anything?
This most likely wouldn't be tolerated since it is likely that the child would either jump on someone else's rug, and/or soon start to escalate the level of jumping to less tolerable levels. Notice though, the child isn't being told he should never jump, he is just being asked to do it at a more appropriate time and place, the playground. Jumping is generally an activity which is not OK every where, for instance I don't let DS jump on the stair well or in restaurants.

I think part of it would have to do with tone.

In general, I don't see why the kids need to be laughing and bouncing around at school to have joy in their lives. DS gets in plenty of time for bouncing and laughing during his day. After all school only takes up 3 hours of that day. Trust me, DS is generally happy to go to school. On of the rare occasions when he didn't want to go, which had to do with some interaction he'd had with one of his friends, it was being reminded that he could do one of his favorite works (the exchange game) when he got there that made him change his mind. just b/c doing works isn't boisterous, doesn't mean that aren't fun and joyful.

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#8 of 26 Old 01-18-2010, 08:59 AM
 
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We don't do Montessori. But what really resonanted to me was that you were looking for a "feeling" in the class, which is exactly what I look for in schools.

I would encourage you to trust your "gut" impression. If the feeling doesn't resonate, then it's not a good "fit." Notice, I didn't say a "bad program," just a poor "fit" for what you feel is right for your family.
When I was touring preschools, I was immediately taken with one where the teachers gave a lot of hugs, kids crawled up on the teachers' laps for story time, etc. They were under construction and the preschool was in a corner of a synagogue social hall at the time, so the facility wasn't so great right then, but the feel just resonated with me and both kids wound up going there and were very happy.

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#9 of 26 Old 01-18-2010, 12:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, everyone -- I do think you're all right about trusting my gut if this doesn't feel like the right fit for this child or our family.

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But what really lit his fire at 2.5 was to wash lentils with me or sweep or explore blocks in what I would say looked pretty serious in his attitude.
I agree -- DD loves that stuff. But she already does this with us for many hours each day. She washes dishes and helps me cook (pours in ingredients, stirs, etc.), puts clothes in the dryer, sorts laundry, feeds the cats, sweeps with her own small broom, dustpan, and brush, etc. I guess my experience is that the "real life" serious activities are already a big part of her life. And interestingly, at the one Montessori school we visited that required her to come on our visit, she was relatively uninterested in the materials the teacher showed her -- except for pouring water, which she does at home for probably at least an hour a day.

By contrast, she literally screams with excitement each week when it's time for her Music Together class, which is all about dancing around to silly songs, and shaking tambourines and banging sticks, quite different than anything I saw in any of the Montessori schools. And at one of the non-Montessori school open houses, she was delighted with the miniature plastic cat carrier (just like the one we bring our cats to the vet in), which she put a bear and a doll in and carried all around the room. And she cried when we told her it was time to go and she had to leave behind the doll she'd been pushing around in the miniature shopping cart. Those are the kinds of things we don't have at home, that she seems to think are a real treat.

I wish there were more flexible Montessori schools around here, that would incorporate what I see as "the best of both worlds" (even if they're not 100% authentic to Maria Montessori's writings). I'm surprised by how many of you said the playing with the whales would have been allowed -- that was definitely not the attitude I saw at any of the three Montessori schools we visited. I can definitely see myself coming to a different conclusion if the options were slightly different.

I guess it's all part of knowing your kid, and knowing your options, and finding the right "feel"!
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#10 of 26 Old 01-18-2010, 02:33 PM
 
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You know, I really *wanted* to like Montessori preschool. But I just didn't. I didn't like how they left a little girl screaming in the kitchen by herself until she calmed down after being dropped off, I didn't like how they had two masking taped circles on the floor and everyone had to sit cross legged in between the lines, how the asst. teacher kept telling one girl to get her finger out of her mouth, and a few other things. I don't know, maybe it was just the day I went and observed. I know some people are just so into it and love it, I felt like I was missing something. Anyway, I sent my son to the play based preschool my older child went to and we all just loved it.

My UU has started using a Montessori inspired curriculum (spirit play, similar to godly play used in other churches) and my kindergartener just doesn't like it. He used to really like going to his class and now he complains about how all they can do is retell the story or do some kind of work.

I guess Montessori just isn't for everyone.
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#11 of 26 Old 01-18-2010, 04:34 PM
 
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I didn't like how they left a little girl screaming in the kitchen by herself until she calmed down after being dropped off, I didn't like how they had two masking taped circles on the floor and everyone had to sit cross legged in between the lines,
But that's not Montessori, that's that school.

Nothing like that happens at DS's school. When a child is crying a teacher will hold the child often, I've seen teachers walking around doing their usual thing with one hand with a student clinging to them held up by the other hand. Sometimes if holding doesn't work, the directoress will take the student for a walk outside. The basic policy is if a student isn't OK within 15 minutes, they will call the parent/grandparent/nanny to come and get the child.

DS almost never sits on the floor, he tend to sit in a teacher lap when he does circle time (he's a wiggly child and like to be held.) Circle time in a traditional Montessori class is optional. The students are invited to join it, but if they want to finish up a work instead thats OK as long as they are quiet, and don't disturb the circle.

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#12 of 26 Old 01-18-2010, 06:15 PM
 
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You know, I really *wanted* to like Montessori preschool. But I just didn't. I didn't like how they left a little girl screaming in the kitchen by herself until she calmed down after being dropped off, I didn't like how they had two masking taped circles on the floor and everyone had to sit cross legged in between the lines, how the asst. teacher kept telling one girl to get her finger out of her mouth, and a few other things. I don't know, maybe it was just the day I went and observed. I know some people are just so into it and love it, I felt like I was missing something. Anyway, I sent my son to the play based preschool my older child went to and we all just loved it.

My UU has started using a Montessori inspired curriculum (spirit play, similar to godly play used in other churches) and my kindergartener just doesn't like it. He used to really like going to his class and now he complains about how all they can do is retell the story or do some kind of work.

I guess Montessori just isn't for everyone.
That would never happen in our school. Also I have no idea what "spirit play" is.

I think there are a lot of misconceptions about Montessori. People don't go to a poorly run play-based preschool and say "oh play is awful."

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There are lots of chances for joy and happiness and kid emotions in montessori. Heck, my son has *3* recesses, plus time during meals and snacks where he can be silly and do free play, etc. That, and they don't seem so miserable with the work....they look focused, which is good too.

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#14 of 26 Old 01-18-2010, 07:09 PM
 
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I think there are a lot of misconceptions about Montessori. People don't go to a poorly run play-based preschool and say "oh play is awful."
I hear/see this all the time. Whatever odd thing a particular school does gets attributed to it being Montessori.

I've heard people say car-lines are a Montessori thing, but many of the preschools around here offer them. Some of the Montessori schools do and some don't and plenty of other (play based, academic, Coop, etc) types offer it too. It has more to do with the layout of the parking lot than eductional philosophy. I doubt many (if any) of Dr Montessori's original students were dropped off at school by car.

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#15 of 26 Old 01-18-2010, 09:07 PM
 
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But that's not Montessori, that's that school.
Oh, I know that was that school. Maybe it was just that teacher. Maybe it was just that day. But that's the only Montessori school around. So yes, that has formed my impression of Montessori. How can it not?

Here's some info on spirit play if anyone is interested. It's at our UU, not the Montessori school. Our director of religious ed was the one who started it, she is the former director of the Montessori preschool. http://www.unityunitarian.org/spiritplay.htm This link isn't from my UU, I just found it when I searched on spirit play.
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I think there are a lot of misconceptions about Montessori. People don't go to a poorly run play-based preschool and say "oh play is awful."
So true!!
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#17 of 26 Old 01-19-2010, 06:39 PM
 
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All of my children are in Montessori school right now. As for the whale incident, I know they wouldn't have been told to not play with them like that. However, I do believe that the teacher would keep an eye on my child and give another lesson if the material was being used improperly for a long amount of time. Just the other day I sat and watched my middle child doing a counting lesson, but was way more interested in making the items into a "fort" of some sort. As an observer, I found myself getting incredibly impatient waiting for her to count from 1 to 20. The teacher looked at me as if to say, "Relax! Let her do her thing." And as I sat there I realized that it was also an incredibly fine motor skill building activity. Her teacher had the patience of a SAINT!!!!

I love both schools my kids are in, but I honestly think it's allllllllll about the teacher. We are very fortunate to have some downright incredibly teachers in our lives.

I agree with a PP poster who said she wanted to love Waldorf. I really wanted my children in Waldorf until I did extensive research and realized that is just not a good fit for my kids and our family lifestyle. We have lots of Waldorf toys at home though. My oldest child is a complete daydreamer and I have often joked with her teacher that maybe she should have been put in Waldorf. But luckily, her teacher really knows how to get her motivated and interested.

Good luck with your choice!!!

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#18 of 26 Old 01-19-2010, 09:40 PM
 
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Moving to Montessori subforum

 
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#19 of 26 Old 01-20-2010, 12:24 PM
 
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Oh, I know that was that school. Maybe it was just that teacher. Maybe it was just that day. But that's the only Montessori school around. So yes, that has formed my impression of Montessori. How can it not?
Well, by learning a little bit about the Montessori methods and seeing that none of what you mentioned is "Montessori" in any way, shape, or form.

As to OP, I guess it depends on the school. I always thought that Montessori was kind of rigid and, well, un-fun. Then I toured our Montessori school, and I've never seen a classroom full of such joy. There were two little girls scrubbing potatoes and singing loudly and rocking back in forth in unison, having an absolute blast. I was so shocked by what a good time the girls were having doing something that I think of as a pretty miserable chore! I can't remember what every kid in the room was doing, but I remember that they were all doing something, and there was just a feeling of joy hanging over the whole atmosphere.

However, I think our school isn't very strict Montessori. If the schools you visited all seemed similar in mood, then you might just have to chalk it up to living in an area where that sort of Montessori preschool is what sells.

Trying to live a simple life in a messy house in a complicated world with : DH, DD (b. 07/07), DS (b. 02/09), and DD (b. 10/10)
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#20 of 26 Old 01-20-2010, 03:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I always thought that Montessori was kind of rigid and, well, un-fun. Then I toured our Montessori school, and I've never seen a classroom full of such joy. There were two little girls scrubbing potatoes and singing loudly and rocking back in forth in unison, having an absolute blast. I was so shocked by what a good time the girls were having doing something that I think of as a pretty miserable chore! I can't remember what every kid in the room was doing, but I remember that they were all doing something, and there was just a feeling of joy hanging over the whole atmosphere.
That's incredibly cool! I wish I had seen anything like that in any of the schools I visited.

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However, I think our school isn't very strict Montessori. If the schools you visited all seemed similar in mood, then you might just have to chalk it up to living in an area where that sort of Montessori preschool is what sells.
Maybe. Or maybe it would sell even better if there were more options. You live in Massachusetts, I live in Albany, NY, one to three hours from most of Massachusetts -- are there really such big regional differences?

My sense is that there's so much pressure within the Montessori movement to be "authentic" to the method that less "strict" schools seem to be less common, and at least to insiders, less well-respected. From my perspective, that's too bad. I've been reading Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius, and I understand there's an argument that if you start tinkering around with pieces of it, the method doesn't work as well overall. But I wonder if anyone has ever actually researched this. It would be cool to have a Montessori school where students were randomly assigned to two different classrooms, one with standard "strict" Montessori, one standard Montessori with just a few variations (personally, I would love to see the addition of child-directed imaginative play, along the lines of the Tools of the Mind method described in Chapter 8 of the amazing book NurtureShock). And then see what the outcomes are like.

But I know, according to Montessori proponents, outsiders like me who aren't extensively trained in the method have no right to propose ways to improve it. Oh, well.
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#21 of 26 Old 01-20-2010, 04:22 PM
 
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My sense is that there's so much pressure within the Montessori movement to be "authentic" to the method that less "strict" schools seem to be less common, and at least to insiders, less well-respected. From my perspective, that's too bad. I've been reading Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius, and I understand there's an argument that if you start tinkering around with pieces of it, the method doesn't work as well overall. But I wonder if anyone has ever actually researched this. It would be cool to have a Montessori school where students were randomly assigned to two different classrooms, one with standard "strict" Montessori, one standard Montessori with just a few variations (personally, I would love to see the addition of child-directed imaginative play, along the lines of the Tools of the Mind method described in Chapter 8 of the amazing book NurtureShock). And then see what the outcomes are like.
How does "authentic" equal "strict" ?

When I was visiting schools to pick DS's, I certainly wouldn't have said the most authentic ones were the strictest ones. For example, one school that was clearly pretty strict, was one of the least authentic. They assigned works that students had to do, though the student got to choose when to do them. They didn't have any plants or animals in the room. They used a fair amount of Melissa and Doug toys to fill up the shelves.

I did also visit one (which we almost sent DS to) that was very authentic, but also pretty strict. They weren't flexible about things like DS needing Mr Rabbit to come with him.

Another I visited was both very very authentic, and not what I'd call strict. While visiting, I saw a boy combine the blocks from the pink tower and the brown stairs in an extraordinary way. The only compromises they made to the method were ones that related to meeting state codes. (The only reason we didn't send DS to that one was b/c of tuition. )

It seems really obvious to me from the way the materials are designed that Dr Montessori expected students to move beyond the original lessons with them. Why would you make the brown stair and the pink tower in the same ratios unless you though the students might put them together? Why have the colors on the math beads consistent unless you thought the students might decide to compare them?

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#22 of 26 Old 01-20-2010, 04:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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How does "authentic" equal "strict" ?
I (and the previous poster who originally used the word "strict" in this thread) are using it here to mean adhering very closely to the official, authentic Montessori method. So for instance, not allowing a child to to build a fort out of rods meant for counting, or make whales swim when they're meant for matching.

I don't know what the official Montessori position is on using the Brown Stairs and blocks from the Pink Tower together. I do believe children are expected to compare the math beads and use them together.
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#23 of 26 Old 01-21-2010, 02:23 AM
 
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I wasn't sure how to answer at first, but did some thinking on this. Let me ask this question....because children are often naturally loud creatures, does that mean they should be like that ALL the time?

I love running around on stage acting like an idiot in front of an audience, but if I had to be that high strung all the time, I would never enjoy relaxing as well.

Isn't there a time and a place for
and a time and a place for ?

Matt
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#24 of 26 Old 01-21-2010, 09:10 PM
 
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But "authentic" Montessori for 3-6 year olds just isn't quite clicking for me. I finally realized that part of what I love about this age group (it's always been my favorite age) is their exuberant joy and silliness. Montessori classrooms don't feel joyful to me. I should clarify: I'm a pretty serious, academically-minded person, and I definitely "get" the quiet joy of focusing on meaningful work. But my experience is that there are fewer smiles and less laughter among the children in Montessori primary classrooms than in non-Montessori preschools.

I'm not a happy-happy-all-the-time-put-a-smile-on-your-face kind of person. But kids in Montessori classrooms often seem quite serious. Isn't 3-6 sort of one's last chance to just be silly and dance around, and sing songs with talking animals and snowpeople, and dress up in a feather boa and a fireman hat? Isn't there plenty of time later to be serious?

I'm not asking this question to be negative -- I can absolutely see why many people love Montessori, and how it could be a great choice. But since my current leaning against it comes down to the joy/silliness quotient, I thought I'd post my thoughts and let others respond.
This has not been my experience- though I hate to generalize from school to school whether it be traditional or M, so I will just compare the M schools and the traditional schools I looked at for my DS- and there were quite a few of both.

Overall, the kids at most of the schools seemed happy-at both the M and trad. I chose the M school for my son where the people seemed the happiest (kids and staff alike). When I'm there, the kids in the classrooms are constantly talking with each other and laughing, giggling, smiling, etc, but not loudly or boisterously (until they hit the playground or movement class, then they're pretty loud, but still respectful of each other). Some of the kids are hard at work and very focused so they are quiet. They're not laughing, but that type of focus is extremely rewarding IME, so I assume they're having fun. No one is out of control. No one is hitting or being chastised by teachers, no one seems stressed out or without direction, everyone has a purposeful activity to do, everyone is respecting each others space and work and body so the kids are happy. It's been so rare that I've seen an unhappy child there....that in all honesty I can't even think of an instance, but I know every kid is not happy every second there, I just can't recall one right this second- and I'm at his school fairly often. At the other M schools I visited, the kids and staff seemed happy enough, just not as happy as the kids at the school I chose (that I love love love ). As for silliness, I have no idea what this is or when my DS even plays it, but they all have this game where they meow like kitty cats and act like they're cleaning the fur on their arms. My DS talks about it and laughs his head off. So they play silly games.

The traditional schools I visited were....somewhat similar . The kids were happy enough. However, at one school I saw a child be put in time out for hitting another child, the kids were not nice to each other and definitely did *not* seem happy a lot of the time, all the schools had infinitely messier rooms than the M schools- which would have driven me nuts if I'd been a student there at that age, and my DS would have been totally stirred up if he was in that sort of an environment. Some of the kids in various schools and classrooms were just sort of....meandering around, doing nothing, looking bored but not really caring to find anything to do.

My DS is thriving in an M school- AMS if it matters- and they're going for full membership this year (now that they have the money). He is one of those kids that is giddy and joyful and loves nothing more in the world than to be silly and laugh and have a good time- he's seriously the original Good time Charlie, kwim? And he *loves* his school, loves his teachers and especially the other kids he's met there, and being at an M school has only increased the joy he gets form the world. I think that if he'd gone to a traditional school that might not be the case. The noise and (relative) mess would have made him nuts and he would have probably been "in trouble" all the time.

See if you can observe the classrooms for longer periods of time- if you've only had short visits. Or maybe you haven't found the right school yet. I liked all the M schools I observed, but I *love* the one we eventually chose. It's the only one I put in an application for.
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#25 of 26 Old 01-21-2010, 09:32 PM
 
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You know, I really *wanted* to like Montessori preschool. But I just didn't. I didn't like how they left a little girl screaming in the kitchen by herself until she calmed down after being dropped off, I didn't like how they had two masking taped circles on the floor and everyone had to sit cross legged in between the lines, how the asst. teacher kept telling one girl to get her finger out of her mouth, and a few other things. I don't know, maybe it was just the day I went and observed. I know some people are just so into it and love it, I felt like I was missing something. Anyway, I sent my son to the play based preschool my older child went to and we all just loved it.
That is wack, and not M. The first week of school, DS's lead teacher had about 5 children attached to her at all times- whether standing, sitting, or walking. She was like a people molecule- holding a kid or two each by hand, one hanging on each leg, 3 sitting in her lap when she was sitting, etc. I think it was about 1.5 week before she'd slowly shed everyone, but it didn't happen until the kids were ready for it.

It's funny that there's all this talk of jumping because my DS does this almost every day at his school- though not exactly as described by PPs. Every day when he gets to school, DS sees the work he wants to do, then proceeds to head straight for it, leaping over every mat in his path, or if it's occupied in such a way that he might disturb someone, then he sort of zig zag leaps around mats and people. The first time I saw him do it it I was a wreck, until I noticed that he didn't even remotely step on anyone's work or invade their space. No child paid attention to him, no teacher commented, it was no biggie. I see him do it all the time and no one minds, because he doesn't disturb anyone and I can tell that he gets a lot of pleasure out of it. It still makes me a nervous wreck even though he's very coordinated, but no one in the class seems to mind, so I don't worry about it.
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#26 of 26 Old 01-22-2010, 02:15 AM
 
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I think this is the kind of thing that really depends on the school and teacher.

I'm a born and bred Montessorian and this is what nags at me about Montessori sometimes is that I've seen the imagination and instincts of the kids (when not harmful to others) squashed one too many times.

As a music teacher in a Montessori school I worked an hour in a classroom covering lunch breaks. The children would often break out in song and start singing together. It was beautiful and joyful- not loud or annoying, and they weren't doing it to be disobedient. Well, the teachers would always tell them to stop. It made me so sad, but it wasn't my classroom, so I felt like talking to the teachers about it, but ultimately decided it wasn't my place.

I also worked the after school program in another M school and all the kids wanted to do was hang out together and role play. They pretended to be dogs, families and all kinds of things. The administration kept pushing us to do more activities and be more structured, when the kids had been "working" all day! And some of them were there from 8:15-6pm! Poor kids. Go with your gut.
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