Any negative aspect of the Montessori method? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 30 Old 05-14-2010, 11:02 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Any aspect of the Montessori method that you disagree with, did not feel the need to apply, or regretted using? (Aside from the cost)

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#2 of 30 Old 05-14-2010, 11:18 AM
 
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I personally do not possibly see how floor beds would work for babies and young toddlers! My kids were contained in cribs. Other people use them without problems, but I personally just don't see how it works.

Other than that, I can't really think of anything off the top of my head.

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#3 of 30 Old 05-14-2010, 03:39 PM
 
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I don't avoid imaginative play as much as some Montessori moms do. I let my daughter read books with humanized animals, we pretend things, etc.

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#4 of 30 Old 05-14-2010, 03:45 PM
 
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I went to tour a Montessori school....I didn't understand why it was so bad to have imaginative play either. Each *student* was not able to play with a toy until they showed they could play with it the right way!
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#5 of 30 Old 05-14-2010, 03:54 PM
 
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I went to tour a Montessori school....I didn't understand why it was so bad to have imaginative play either. Each *student* was not able to play with a toy until they showed they could play with it the right way!
I don't have a problem with it in school; each material has a very specific purpose and teaches a certain skill. So each child must be introduced to the correct way to use the material.

I'm more thinking about those families that choose to go all-Montessori at home. Most kids will have imaginative freedom when they get home from school, but I've seen some Montessori homeschooling families online who embrace the concrete-only aspects of Montessori. That just doesn't work for us -- I don't think I could restrain DD's imagination if I tried!

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#6 of 30 Old 05-14-2010, 04:23 PM
 
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I don't avoid imaginative play as much as some Montessori moms do. I let my daughter read books with humanized animals, we pretend things, etc.
Wow, I can't believe there are families that do that! I don't think that Maria Montessori would have approved of that at all. It seems like a huge twisting of the Montessori philosophy.

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#7 of 30 Old 05-14-2010, 04:35 PM
 
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It's good to read this thread. The lack of imaginative play is my only concern about Montessori, but I assumed we could just do that at home.
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#8 of 30 Old 05-14-2010, 08:16 PM
 
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It's good to read this thread. The lack of imaginative play is my only concern about Montessori, but I assumed we could just do that at home.
I've sat in on a few Montessori classrooms, and honestly I don't think that it's missed in the class. There is really an amazing range of works for the children to choose from. Something for every tastes and every mood.

Maybe it doesn't really make sense, but I kid of feel that there's more freedom in the Montessori classrooms that I've visited than in the play-based classrooms that I visited. In the play-based classrooms, the play has a kind of nasty habit of being entirely orchestrated by one or two of the stronger personalities in the classroom. It also tends to be fairly narrowly defined in one way or another: in conventional classrooms there's a whole lot of "you be Belle and I'll be Ariel" and in Waldorf there's a pretty limited range of the sorts of things kids are encouraged to play. By encouraging each child to choose constructive tasks, most (maybe all?) of which have some sort of finished product to work towards, I think that a well run Montessori classrooms engage children, including their imaginations, more than any other sort of classroom I've seen.

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#9 of 30 Old 05-14-2010, 09:07 PM
 
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This may seem like a silly question, but what exactly does the teacher do if a child starts to play pretend? Also, how do they 'deal' (for lack of a better word) with a child who starts to attend school and loves to play pretend?

I'm not too familiar with that particular aspect of Montessori, so forgive my ignorance.
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#10 of 30 Old 05-14-2010, 09:25 PM
 
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This may seem like a silly question, but what exactly does the teacher do if a child starts to play pretend? Also, how do they 'deal' (for lack of a better word) with a child who starts to attend school and loves to play pretend?

I'm not too familiar with that particular aspect of Montessori, so forgive my ignorance.
I think it really depends on the school, and also on the situation.

I think that treating the materials with respect is strongly enforced at most Montessori schools. And I think that a lot of pretend play with the materials is not respectful with them: stacking things up so that they can be knocked down, swinging the glass pitchers around as part of a game. I think that most schools would not allow the materials to be treated roughly.

Some schools are more strict about pretend play than others. At most, so long as you're being respectful of the materials and using them in the proper way, I don't think that the teacher cares if you're pretending to build a skyscraper with the Pink Tower or pretending that you're preparing arranged flowers for the ball at the castle. I'm sure there are some really extreme Montessori teachers who wouldn't ever allow that sort of thing.

In all the Montessori classrooms that I've been in, the teachers have used redirection and talking things out. A good directress is a guide, and I think the right way for them to handle a bored or distracted child is for them to make suggestions for more productive things to do, and to really work with them to find something that fits their current mood.

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#11 of 30 Old 05-14-2010, 09:30 PM
 
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I asked questions about Montessori for 3-6 year olds in this thread: http://www.mothering.com/discussions...les+montessori

It includes my experience watching a teacher re-direct a child who began to play imaginatively with classroom materials.
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#12 of 30 Old 05-14-2010, 09:34 PM
 
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Thank you both.
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#13 of 30 Old 05-14-2010, 11:11 PM
 
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Wow, I can't believe there are families that do that! I don't think that Maria Montessori would have approved of that at all. It seems like a huge twisting of the Montessori philosophy.
I don't think that Maria Montessori would approve either. My DDs go to a very traditional Montessori school and they are allowed to play with materials in ways other than the intended way. I've seen kids take the pink tower, the stairs, and rods and build something fantastical out of them with nary a word from a teacher. Again, this is a *very* traditional Montessori school.

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#14 of 30 Old 05-15-2010, 06:48 AM
 
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I have found that even in Montessori a child can *fall behind* in certain subjects, as is often a problem in traditional public school settings.

My child is older and I have noticed that she is doing well in some areas,and VERY lacking in others. While many M students may excel beyond public school peers I doubt my child is one of them.

Also,while I liked independent work to some degree I would prefer more teacher involvement.It seems like the children are teaching themselves and each other while the teachers just guide/observe. I would like to see more teacher teaching.

I really don''t like that my child has to sign up for lessons from the teacher,and then gets an attitude if she does not learn something in one lesson. Seems like we are paying for my child to teach herself when we could do that for free at home.

For a child who gets everything and is more driven this type of school setting would be ideal.It turns out to not be the best fit for my child.
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#15 of 30 Old 05-15-2010, 10:44 AM
 
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I remember the imaginative play dilemma when I had Montessori briefly as a kid, too. Also, the whole early weaning thing *really* bugs me.

mattemma04-what subjects is she lacking?

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#16 of 30 Old 05-15-2010, 02:13 PM
 
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I remember the imaginative play dilemma when I had Montessori briefly as a kid, too. Also, the whole early weaning thing *really* bugs me.

mattemma04-what subjects is she lacking?
The early weaning thing is really not Montessori, at least not at our school. I think that one book about baby Montessori or whatever is just weird.

Anyways, we have no imaginative play dilemma. My son comes home with tales of imaginary play daily. But he also separates that from his other time doing activities.

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#17 of 30 Old 05-15-2010, 02:53 PM
 
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I remember the imaginative play dilemma when I had Montessori briefly as a kid, too. Also, the whole early weaning thing *really* bugs me.

mattemma04-what subjects is she lacking?
I think the early weaning this is more a product of the times that the books in question were written during. To my knowledge, Maria Montessori never said anything about early weaning: that was part of the Montessori revival of the 1960s, when breastfeeding was looked down upon in the US in general. Waldorf also technically insists on early weaning (and some Waldorf communities still take it very seriously). However, I think that the types of parents who both of these philosophies tend to attract do not follow the early weaning thing.

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I think the early weaning this is more a product of the times that the books in question were written during. To my knowledge, Maria Montessori never said anything about early weaning: that was part of the Montessori revival of the 1960s, when breastfeeding was looked down upon in the US in general. Waldorf also technically insists on early weaning (and some Waldorf communities still take it very seriously). However, I think that the types of parents who both of these philosophies tend to attract do not follow the early weaning thing.
Oh, I agree. It just is irritating to see it in writing in otherwise very wise books. And yes, it irritates me about Waldorf, as well.

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#19 of 30 Old 05-15-2010, 04:00 PM
 
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Maria thought the child should stay with the mother for the first two years.

Botheration. I just read a blog that had a ton of quotes from Maria about the awesomeness of cultures who did baby wearing and kept the baby close and now I can't find it.
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#20 of 30 Old 05-15-2010, 04:13 PM
 
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Okay, can I ask why imagination is discouraged? I never really understood that. I was going to register my daughter in Montessori. Just going on the tour made me nervous and uncomfortable. Kind of like going to your grandmother's house as a kid and she had alot of cool china etc but you couldn't touch anything. I just couldn't imagine my daughter being there all day learning how to use cleaning cloths and folding laundry.
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#21 of 30 Old 05-15-2010, 08:45 PM
 
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Okay, can I ask why imagination is discouraged? I never really understood that. I was going to register my daughter in Montessori. Just going on the tour made me nervous and uncomfortable. Kind of like going to your grandmother's house as a kid and she had alot of cool china etc but you couldn't touch anything. I just couldn't imagine my daughter being there all day learning how to use cleaning cloths and folding laundry.
It's not discouraged exactly, although I gather some implementations do.

Here's how I look at it that I think is reasonably in line with Montessori. When my son was 2 and a half, he wanted to do everything I was doing. And he wanted to learn what everything was for. And he wanted to learn all that "correctly" - that is, if you showed him a baby way to do something, then he would get very upset.

My understanding is that how Maria Montessori developed her materials was that she filled a classroom with every kind of toy, and she found that when the children had the option to use the real thing, they preferred it. They also wanted to know how to do things correctly.

That is definitely consistent with our experience. My son now has a very active imagination but at 2.5, what passed for "imagination" was more imitation. I wanted it to be imagination because in our society we kind of compete on our kids' "great imaginations" but compared to his brain now - wow, no it was not, not in the same way.

Sure, if we had told him about fairies and gnomes he would have talked about fairies and gnomes, but it was more or less the same thing as talking about caterpillars and butterflies.

As a professional writer and editor and a fiction writer, I definitely strongly believe that in order to express one's imagination one has to be grounded in reality on some level. You can't come up with Lord of the Rings if you've never observed real people, trees, etc.

I strongly believe in the value of imagination but I think a LOT of what passes for imagination in young children today is actually a) social and b) adult-driven. The whole Disney Princess thing is one example - I love princesses and fairy tales but the age and way some people introduce makes it such a basic construct that it may as well be real.

So for me this aspect of Montessori is something I cherish when it's done in a respectful way - letting the child lead. I see it as providing an environment that is very rich in reality so the child doesn't have to elaborate until he or she really is ready to.

At that point I really don't think Montessori does discourage it - there are plenty of stories and the kids do plays and play outside together and stuff. It's more that the basic principle is that for the 3-6 age, there's just so much good reality.

I think Montessori sometimes is a system that requires some patience and faith, which can be a downside. I don't mean a blind faith but that yes, your kid does have an imagination even if the teacher isn't leading the kids to imagine themselves as knights.

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#22 of 30 Old 05-17-2010, 03:39 PM
 
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The only thing that has really turned me off of some M schools I've visited is the lack of physical contact and physical care shown to the children. I've seen independence taken way too far with very young children - such as adults refusing to soothe a lonely/melancholy/hurt 18 mo and instead leaving them alone to get over it on their own. I have also read plenty of M books that discourage carrying, holding, wearing, breastfeeding, etc, from a young age. I just can't rationalize this and it goes against everything in me. It is very possible to provide a child an envrionment in which their own independence will flourish without depriving them of loving human contact. Thankfully we found an M school that balances it all and DS is thriving. Some other schools had a chill in the air.

I won't weigh in on the imagination play issue since many far more knowledgeable and articulate than I already have.

I'd just add though that sleeping mats are totally possible for young toddlers. I wouldn't have believed it either but it took less than a week for DS at 13 mos to be going over to his own mat when he was tired or when it was naptime.

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#23 of 30 Old 05-18-2010, 11:37 PM
 
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For my four year old, the M approach lacked spontaneous play and group-play time. He was often "redirected" by the teacher who eventually brought his "problematic" behavior to my attention. The kids were asked to work mostly independently and sometimes in pairs. But some young kids LOVE being with groups. I don't think he needed a bunch of action figures to make him happy, but a few costumes and some instruction-free space would have really given him a break from all the "work" he was expected to choose.

Now that I've read about the Vygotskian ideas on how play teaches children emotional and physical regulation...I regret having my preschooler in an all-day program that prevented him from getting his needs met.

I took him out early and we're spending the spring and summer PLAYING with kids (and reading).

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#24 of 30 Old 05-20-2010, 12:00 AM
 
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The only thing that has really turned me off of some M schools I've visited is the lack of physical contact and physical care shown to the children. I've seen independence taken way too far with very young children - such as adults refusing to soothe a lonely/melancholy/hurt 18 mo and instead leaving them alone to get over it on their own.
I don't think this is a Montessori approach, but more of an individual teacher approach. My oldest, very sensitive DD spent 2 years in a private montessori school (from age 3 to 5) with very loving teachers that would show lots of "affection" to her when she was upset or frustrated. I have seen those same teachers letting a child sit by him/herself while pouting or throwing a tantrum while totally refusing any comfort from the teacher. The infant and toddler teachers are incredibly loving and sweet and are masters at redirection when a child is upset!

Now that DD is ending her kindy year in a public Montessori charter school, I don't want them to "baby" her. We are very fortunate to have her in this school and her teacher is probably one of the most amazing, gentle, peaceful people I've ever met without being the "touchy feely" type. I have told her several times that I am going to write a book of her "one liners" because they are so motivating!!!

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#25 of 30 Old 05-20-2010, 09:05 AM
 
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This is a nice piece on Vygotsky and Montessori if anyone's interested: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/m...g=content;col1

I might not have made clear that I personally didn't find that what passes for "imaginative play" in the play-based preschools I visited was respectful of individual kids or child-led. For us our particular Montessori is actually much better at that.

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#26 of 30 Old 05-20-2010, 09:33 AM
 
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This is a nice piece on Vygotsky and Montessori if anyone's interested: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/m...g=content;col1

I might not have made clear that I personally didn't find that what passes for "imaginative play" in the play-based preschools I visited was respectful of individual kids or child-led. For us our particular Montessori is actually much better at that.
That article is very interesting, particularly the comparison between Montessori's theories of autoeducation (as it's referred to in the article) and Vygotsky's views on the importance of adult-guided instruction.

Thanks for posting it.
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#27 of 30 Old 05-20-2010, 10:49 AM
 
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I just couldn't imagine my daughter being there all day learning how to use cleaning cloths and folding laundry.
Oh goodness, it's nothing like that. :

DS goes to a Montessori school, and they are encouraged to work with everything! Even as a 3 year old, if you can use a 5 year old work appropriately (meaning not throwing it around the room and disrespecting it), you can do it. There is also a lot of free art where they can work on drawing, etc.--my son brings home these 10-15 page books he wrote and illustrated himself from the free art bin. The continent studies are hugely imaginative--just this year, the entire great room was tranformed into a huge area that replicates Asia (complete with small versions of houses built out of traditional materials, a strip of open "storefronts", and an area for Asian games. They were able to dress in traditional clothing and play in the village. It was awesome!) He also gets several recesses where he can run around and pretend and do whatever he wants. I don't see that as much different than a public school preschool or kindergarten--there are times where they are expected to work and times where they are expected to play. Only in non-Montessori schools, those times are very specific ("work on this worksheet now. listen to this lecture now. make your paper plate frog now.")

We also have a Montessori-based home and homeschool the younger ones with montessori materials. And we certainly do encourage imagination too! I think there are times for work and times for imagination, and a well balanced Montessori child will be able to do both well.

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#28 of 30 Old 05-21-2010, 01:35 PM
 
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Okay, can I ask why imagination is discouraged? I never really understood that. I was going to register my daughter in Montessori. Just going on the tour made me nervous and uncomfortable. Kind of like going to your grandmother's house as a kid and she had alot of cool china etc but you couldn't touch anything. I just couldn't imagine my daughter being there all day learning how to use cleaning cloths and folding laundry.
It's not so much that imagination is discouraged (at least at my son's school); it's that the materials serve an important purpose in the overall education of the child. The pink tower, as an example, isn't meant to be used as free-form building time. It's a sensorial work that encourages students to understand larger concepts that will help them later in their education. So, while a student would be redirected and taught the proper way to handle and interact with the materials, the imagination aspect isn't really addressed so much.

We have very imaginative children who are also academically above grade level. We never restrict imagination at home. That's not appropriate because my house isn't a school. (Though some homeschooling families would need to readjust this notion, I suppose! )

Polishing, folding, washing tables, etc. all serve an important role in the student's holistic education. Some of it helps with fine motor skills, some of it has to do with caring for the environment and keeping work spaces neat and clean and respecting the person that comes after you. These are all vital skills that are often overlooked by schools.

When I first observed our M classroom, I immediately had the feeling that these kids just weren't normal! What on earth could the school and teachers do to these kids that makes them be so focused and on task. I was sitting in a classroom with THIRTY-SIX 3-6 year olds and it was quiet. All the students (every single one, without fail) were engaged in either observation of someone's hard work or in their own project. It was frankly a little bit creepy.

Then I read about the three period lesson, the three hour work cycle and the materials. I spent some time educating myself about what the hell my kids were talking about when they said, "I did farm work today," or talked about golden bead, stamp game, exchange game, leaf polishing, pushpin, staple work or whatever other weird lesson they had that week. One of my boys spent almost six weeks stapling on a line. It's all the work I saw come home!

With a little bit of understanding and much more observation of my own children, I feel like I finally get it. All the lessons (which are NOT playing; they do plenty of playing outside and after school) are foundational work that will help them when they enter the lower elementary (6-9) class, upper elementary (9-12) and secondary I (12-15). Even the silver polishing, and wiping down tables. It's all part of that huge spiral of Montessori learning.

Back on topic: My only perceived negative is that Montessori is not fully accessible to really make a huge impact on the general population or on education. We need more public Montessori schools, in my opinion.
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#29 of 30 Old 05-21-2010, 11:26 PM
 
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I think a lot of the problem is not understanding what is going on in the class. For days at the beginning of the school year my daughter would talk about "male insects". I kept trying to figure out what they heck they were teaching her about the gender of insects and why she would be so fascinated with it. Finally I started looking around Montessori websites and realized that she was trying to say "metal insets". I was able to read about how this activity is work for pre-writing. It makes a lot of sense now, but if I had just seen her doing the activity I wouldn't have understood why she was doing such a thing over and over.

I used to think that I would choose Waldorf if there were any way we could afford it. (Montessori is possible for us only because its a public school.) But the more I learn about Montessori the more brilliant it seems to be. The only thing I dislike about our Montessori public school is that they do far too many non-Montessori things in order to meet state standards.
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#30 of 30 Old 05-23-2010, 03:36 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by indie View Post
I think a lot of the problem is not understanding what is going on in the class. For days at the beginning of the school year my daughter would talk about "male insects". I kept trying to figure out what they heck they were teaching her about the gender of insects and why she would be so fascinated with it. Finally I started looking around Montessori websites and realized that she was trying to say "metal insets".
That is hilarious!!!!

Quote:
But the more I learn about Montessori the more brilliant it seems to be. The only thing I dislike about our Montessori public school is that they do far too many non-Montessori things in order to meet state standards.
I am impressed every single day by a Montessori lesson in my child's class. It truly is a brilliant way of educating children. I'm still blown away that she is doing dynamic addition (carrying over with thousands), but she doesn't *know* that is what she is doing. She is being exposed to this work over and over and over and eventually it will all come together and it will just click. I have already expressed my disappointment to my own mother about the public school experience I had as a child. Ick.

My children go to a Montessori charter school and I totally agree about the non-Montessori things they are doing. However, it's such a SMALL percentage that I can live with it. 90% of what they are doing is true Montessori work (and we are blessed to have such a fantastic teacher who is a true Montessorian!) I just keep reminding myself that even if my children have to take the state standardized tests, being in a Montessori environment is still 100x better than sitting at a desk all day copying notes from the teacher's lecture. Our 4th graders get to sit on a couch, floor, work on coffee tables, etc. The public school 4th graders are all sitting at a desk, all day, in a teacher led environment. There truly is no comparison.

An incredibly thankful SAH Mommy to 3 fiendishly enchanting girls 11/04,10/05, & 12/06. 
 
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