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#1 of 37 Old 09-13-2010, 06:32 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hey everyone I admit I kind of chose this preschool in a hurry, but overall it seems like a really lovely school. I am just unfamiliar with what is the norm in a Montessori school. We were previously involved in a play-based preschool so this is VERY different. It seems like there are lots of rules. My daughter (3.5) has mentioned being bored a few times. This morning I stopped in a bit early with her because I wanted her to show me around the room some, and she pointed out things and said that she is not yet allowed to work with them, because she hasn't had the lessons yet... but that is literally like 90% of the room. More. I am not sure *what* she is allowed to do, and she is having trouble telling me.

How does this work in most schools? I guess I just feel like there isn't any harm in letting kids explore the materials even before a lesson, but like I said I am new to this. We have a "Back to school night" tomorrow evening where the teacher will explain more, but even so, I'm curious as to what is normal for other Montessori schools as well!

If you could tell me a little about what your Montessori (half-day) preschool experience has been like, I'd really appreciate it!
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#2 of 37 Old 09-13-2010, 09:47 PM
 
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I'm glad you posted this...I came here looking for the exact same answer. My DD has been crying every single day and I'm beginning to think that it's from boredom and not from school. I pulled out my Nienhuis catelog and she was showing me everything they have in their room but then said, i can't do that because the teacher hasn't shown me.

How do we tell the teachers to get on with it already that our kids are bored to tears???
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#3 of 37 Old 09-13-2010, 10:48 PM
 
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In Montessori the children are indeed not allowed to work with materials they haven't had a lesson in. A good Montessori directress will look at what the child is drawn to and if that isn't appropriate yet (because it really is a whole set of building blocks, figuratively speaking) give a lesson that uses that type of skill. For example when my 3YO visited his new classroom the Friday before classes started he saw a wooden shoe and a doll on a shelf and started playing with them, putting the doll into the shoe. His teacher came over and said "oh, you like to put things in, I have something to show you." And she led him over to a series of four peg boards of different sizes, depths and widths and they have to pull them all out and put them back in the correct order. He sat there happily for 10 minutes doing just that.

It is very hard to get information out of a young Montessori child. They don't really understand that what they do in class is work and may not remember the name of the work or know how to describe it! One day I asked my son what work he did that day and he said "I didn't do any work." That night as he was about to fall asleep he suddenly volunteered "I got a lesson in washing windows today."

The first weeks and year for young children is a lot of "practical life" like windows, puzzle type work, polishing silver, washing tables, etc. Later they will get to sandpaper letters and other "academic" preparation. The practical life skills actually do lead to writing eventually!

It sounds like your children are on track. At our school they have a "parents night" shortly after school to explain what goes on. Do you have that? If not, ask your teacher for some feedback.
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#4 of 37 Old 09-13-2010, 10:59 PM
 
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As the PP said, this is pretty normal early in the school year. Montessori materials are meant to be used in a very specific way to teach a specific lesson, so they must be demonstrated by the teacher first. Usually, in the beginning of the year, there are non-Montessori manipulatives out for the kids to work with without a lesson and some things are demonstrated for the whole class at once. For 3yo, most of what they will work with in the beginning will be practical life. As time goes on and the teacher sees what they're drawn to, they'll be given demonstrations on more and more materials.

I'm sure the "Back to School" night will explain more! Montessori can be a bit of a change if you're used to play-based.

Jen, former sys admin and current geek , wife to DH , SAHM and Montessori homeschool teacher to DD "Nugget" (05/07) and new arrival DS "Sprout" (03/31/10)
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#5 of 37 Old 09-13-2010, 11:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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In Montessori the children are indeed not allowed to work with materials they haven't had a lesson in. A good Montessori directress will look at what the child is drawn to and if that isn't appropriate yet (because it really is a whole set of building blocks, figuratively speaking) give a lesson that uses that type of skill. For example when my 3YO visited his new classroom the Friday before classes started he saw a wooden shoe and a doll on a shelf and started playing with them, putting the doll into the shoe. His teacher came over and said "oh, you like to put things in, I have something to show you." And she led him over to a series of four peg boards of different sizes, depths and widths and they have to pull them all out and put them back in the correct order. He sat there happily for 10 minutes doing just that.

It is very hard to get information out of a young Montessori child. They don't really understand that what they do in class is work and may not remember the name of the work or know how to describe it! One day I asked my son what work he did that day and he said "I didn't do any work." That night as he was about to fall asleep he suddenly volunteered "I got a lesson in washing windows today."

The first weeks and year for young children is a lot of "practical life" like windows, puzzle type work, polishing silver, washing tables, etc. Later they will get to sandpaper letters and other "academic" preparation. The practical life skills actually do lead to writing eventually!

It sounds like your children are on track. At our school they have a "parents night" shortly after school to explain what goes on. Do you have that? If not, ask your teacher for some feedback.
Isn't it meant to be child-led to some degree? My daughter is ready for letters now. She can write her own name. She loves to practice adding, she loves counting. There is only so much puzzles and polishing that will interest her... I mean we have spent the past 3.5 years of her life doing those kinds of things at home, you know?
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#6 of 37 Old 09-13-2010, 11:29 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Another question, regarding the other children and the guides/teachers. It's been 4 days and my little social butterfly doesn't know the names of any of her classmates, hasn't made any friends, and doesn't know her teachers names. When she was two, she easily learned these things within a day or so of a 2 hour class. Do they not introduce the kids around at all? Or use the teacher names so that the kids know them? Social stuff is very important to me for my little girl (she *needs* it) and I'm concerned that that is not going to happen here.

We do have a back to school night tomorrow night, but I'm also interested in finding out if what I am experiencing is the norm.
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#7 of 37 Old 09-14-2010, 02:13 AM
 
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My DD is also 3.5 and just started Children's casa 1/2 days.

Every school is different... my DD knows the names of all of her class mates. The first few days they get used to the structure--what rugs are for, returning something before you take something out, etc. Her school is part of a school that goes through elementary, so they've toured the school, met everyone, etc.

My DD has attended school for 2 days last week and one day this week (today).

She has done the pink tower, and eye droppers, and one other lesson (and preparing snack, gardening responsibility).

I would go to the parent night and also schedule an observation.

It has also been my observation that most Montessori schools have more socialization modeling than other schools (big emphasis on caring, grace, manners, empathy).

And there is a lot of attention to the physical aspects of mental activities, so sure a child could easily do the pink tower without any visible instruction (all verbal) but there is an attempt to integrate the mind and the body--that sounds weird, but its just concentration and mind over the body= focus.

So sure a child has swept and carried blocks, but maybe not in the manner demonstrated. A lot of simple activities are designed to build focus. Its kind of like Karate Kid "Wax on. Wax off."

HTH

and you were in my DD club for these DDs! So big now, eh? off to school. *sniff*

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#8 of 37 Old 09-14-2010, 08:41 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My DD is also 3.5 and just started Children's casa 1/2 days.

Every school is different... my DD knows the names of all of her class mates. The first few days they get used to the structure--what rugs are for, returning something before you take something out, etc. Her school is part of a school that goes through elementary, so they've toured the school, met everyone, etc.

My DD has attended school for 2 days last week and one day this week (today).

She has done the pink tower, and eye droppers, and one other lesson (and preparing snack, gardening responsibility).

I would go to the parent night and also schedule an observation.

It has also been my observation that most Montessori schools have more socialization modeling than other schools (big emphasis on caring, grace, manners, empathy).

And there is a lot of attention to the physical aspects of mental activities, so sure a child could easily do the pink tower without any visible instruction (all verbal) but there is an attempt to integrate the mind and the body--that sounds weird, but its just concentration and mind over the body= focus.

So sure a child has swept and carried blocks, but maybe not in the manner demonstrated. A lot of simple activities are designed to build focus. Its kind of like Karate Kid "Wax on. Wax off."

HTH

and you were in my DD club for these DDs! So big now, eh? off to school. *sniff*
Oh! I know, I cannot believe it. They really are kids now, not babies anymore.

I guess I just don't understand why things are moving so slowly. Not all of the children are new, so some of them already know the drill. Thus far it seems they are not allowed to talk to each other much. Maybe this teacher is particularly strict or something? I don't know. She told me in a note that Bella does not seem bored, but... wait, I'll cut and paste this bit:

"Right now, the children are just getting used to the routine and our expectations, so I haven't given many lessons, and those I have given are very basic. *If Bella is bored, you wouldn't know it to see her. *She doesn't choose particularly challenging work, but what she does choose, she executes well and shows good focus and concentration. *Now that I know she's 'bored' I'll see if we can't *encourage her to raise the bar somewhat."

How can she choose challenging work when she is not allowed to touch things? Like 95% of the room she is not allowed to touch at all.

Plus yesterday after school, Bella told me... "Oh, Mommy! Teacher told me to tell you that school is not boring! School is fun!" She told me all excited, but then I guess by my reaction she could tell that was not quite the way she was meant to relay that message. This has me insanely upset. I don't like the idea of a teacher telling her to tell me... ANYthing. If the teacher wants to talk to me, she can, directly. Would that freak you out or am I overreacting?
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#9 of 37 Old 09-14-2010, 09:14 AM
 
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Oh! I know, I cannot believe it. They really are kids now, not babies anymore.

I guess I just don't understand why things are moving so slowly. Not all of the children are new, so some of them already know the drill. Thus far it seems they are not allowed to talk to each other much. Maybe this teacher is particularly strict or something? I don't know. She told me in a note that Bella does not seem bored, but... wait, I'll cut and paste this bit:

"Right now, the children are just getting used to the routine and our expectations, so I haven't given many lessons, and those I have given are very basic. *If Bella is bored, you wouldn't know it to see her. *She doesn't choose particularly challenging work, but what she does choose, she executes well and shows good focus and concentration. *Now that I know she's 'bored' I'll see if we can't *encourage her to raise the bar somewhat."

How can she choose challenging work when she is not allowed to touch things? Like 95% of the room she is not allowed to touch at all.

Plus yesterday after school, Bella told me... "Oh, Mommy! Teacher told me to tell you that school is not boring! School is fun!" She told me all excited, but then I guess by my reaction she could tell that was not quite the way she was meant to relay that message. This has me insanely upset. I don't like the idea of a teacher telling her to tell me... ANYthing. If the teacher wants to talk to me, she can, directly. Would that freak you out or am I overreacting?
I think it's important to stay tuned in to get a good feel on the place as you go. Not every Montessori is great, or a great fit. I think the teacher sounds responsive to your concerns, but definitely listen to your daughter and your intuition.

At the same time here's my perspective on the issue of boredom.

One of the reasons we didn't choose a play-based preschool was in ALL the ones I toured the adults were spending a good portion of the day getting the kids excited. "Wow, NOW we're going to be BUNNIES! HOP HOP HOP." Even where the kids chose their own play a lot of the time, there was still a lot of the day devoted to what I would characterize as "revving the kids up."

And you know, that's fun and all. It's just that for me, I wanted something that was a little more still and (to my mind) respectful.

So, enter Montessori. It kind of is boring at the start, especially if the child is used to a style where the adults talk in high-pitched "HAPPY NOW" voices and create "fun and interesting and exciting" activities. Note the quotes, because my personal opinion is that the kids then learn to look the adults for what's fun and what's not-fun.

For me the adjustment to Montessori seems a lot about how homeschoolers often talk about "de-schooling." Kids who are used to taking a lot of cues from the adults or excitement of group activities may be 'bored.'

But for me, while I'd be really upset if my child were permanently bored, a little bit of boredom -- meaning not getting external excitement -- is a good thing. That's what gets the inner self searching for what's really meaningful to that child, if that makes sense? There is a gap between when the external cues are removed and when the internal cues come into play.

For the works and not touching them...yeah I don't know that in my son's school they can't touch them but they are directed to the ones at the right level, and they do need to be presented. The first week or two, there's a bit of a drag, although in his particular school they have other things to do at the same time. My son's school sometimes resolves that by having the older children come to help with presenting to the younger ones.

I don't have a problem with some things waiting. The sense of satisfaction that kicks in on the child's side when a child moves on to that is huge. It obviously has to be done really well - the teacher has to be very tuned in - but man, it's really amazing. I hear that for your daughter though, it might be a big deal to her right now. I think helping her talk to the teacher about that would be really good (as you have been).

Our school's really good at social stuff, so no thoughts there really.

I think what I'm trying to say is that in our Montessori, anyway, although the staff want all the kids to be engaged and excited, they have a lot of patience in making sure that is coming from the child, and the first weeks seem slow to those of us who are more used to school starting with a bang. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't continue to ask questions about anything that concerns you.

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#10 of 37 Old 09-14-2010, 10:25 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Jenn, thanks for your perspective. For the record I am not at all seeking... “HOP LIKE A BUNNY! NOW!” type of situations for her. In fact the mental image of that is... funny and disturbing all at once.

Child-led, however, seems a pretty simple term, but it is not here. Children who are under 4.5 are not permitted to stay in school for the full day, regardless of if they want to. Kids under 4.5 who stay for the full days spend the afternoons napping whether they want to or not. Is that child-led? Not in my definition. It's not child-led to tell a child that they cannot sort beads into a muffin tin labeled with numbers until they've had ten other lessons leading up to it.

Our previous school usually started out with free play, leading into snack with a story, and the teacher would usually lead some type of craft. Kids would flit over, do the craft, return to playing. The rooms were not loud (except when the kids played with drums!), or hyper or over-stimulating. I realize there is a wide range of what is “play-based,” however I'm a bit... well, the “HOP LIKE A BUNNY” thing is a bit over the top, and not at all what I either am looking for, have experienced, expect, or want.

I'm not even sure how to address the rest because that characterization of play-based preschools is pretty intensely derogatory, and honestly I have never seen anything like that. None of my concerns about this school should lead anyone to believe that what I am interested in is "HAVE FUN NOW" type of schooling, I hope that is clear.
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#11 of 37 Old 09-14-2010, 01:53 PM
 
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Oh, yuck. Didn't they transition the new kids in one at a time?

At our school, new kids are transitioned into the class room one or two kids at a time. (That mean that DS#2 didn't start until the first week of October during his first year!)The teacher spends a whole week focusing mostly on those kids and their transition. She spends a lot of time showing them how to use materials. She spends a lot of time getting the older children to show them materials. By the end of the week, the kids have a lot of stuff that they have been shown and can do.

If it's a problem, I'd say something to the teacher. She needs to get on the stick about presenting the materials to the children so that they can get busy working. If she's not doing it, it might be time to find a different school.

BTW, the nap thing might not be the school's fault. I live in Illinois (near St. Louis, but on the Illinois side.) The State of Illinois requires two hours of nap-time for every child under age 5 in a day care or school setting. It's mandatory. There are no other options.
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#12 of 37 Old 09-14-2010, 03:33 PM
 
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Jenn, thanks for your perspective. For the record I am not at all seeking... “HOP LIKE A BUNNY! NOW!” type of situations for her. In fact the mental image of that is... funny and disturbing all at once.

Child-led, however, seems a pretty simple term, but it is not here. Children who are under 4.5 are not permitted to stay in school for the full day, regardless of if they want to. Kids under 4.5 who stay for the full days spend the afternoons napping whether they want to or not. Is that child-led? Not in my definition. It's not child-led to tell a child that they cannot sort beads into a muffin tin labeled with numbers until they've had ten other lessons leading up to it.

Our previous school usually started out with free play, leading into snack with a story, and the teacher would usually lead some type of craft. Kids would flit over, do the craft, return to playing. The rooms were not loud (except when the kids played with drums!), or hyper or over-stimulating. I realize there is a wide range of what is “play-based,” however I'm a bit... well, the “HOP LIKE A BUNNY” thing is a bit over the top, and not at all what I either am looking for, have experienced, expect, or want.

I'm not even sure how to address the rest because that characterization of play-based preschools is pretty intensely derogatory, and honestly I have never seen anything like that. None of my concerns about this school should lead anyone to believe that what I am interested in is "HAVE FUN NOW" type of schooling, I hope that is clear.
Sorry if it came across that way. When I was touring all the play-based schools I looked at were really...enthusiastic. I don't think it's a bad thing. It was just not our style.

That was a real example. The kids came in, and it was Peter Rabbit week and they were lead around the room hopping like bunnies. I definitely didn't mean it as derogatory. It's just that having worked in a kindergarten I saw (and saw this in many of the daycares and schools that I toured) that the daily rhythm was a lot about the adult deciding when to get the kids excited and when to calm them down. Which is not a bad thing! It just wasn't right for my son at that age. Soon I think he probably would like that kind of thing.

The nap is mandatory by regulation at certain ages, but our Montessori doesn't have naps for the 4+ year olds unless they need it.

For the works...I do think with Montessori you either buy in that certain works are presented, or you don't. I don't mind because it's very like home. My son is eagerly awaiting his 8th birthday so that he can clean the toilet. (I imagine this will change when he gets older. ). But if you're not ok with it, that's really good information.

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#13 of 37 Old 09-14-2010, 05:03 PM
 
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It would probably be helpful to pick up a book like this one Montessori.

Child-led is exactly that-- like when you are walking down a path you begin at the beginning and go down the path. But you have to begin at the beginning and step on each step. It sounds like the guide in your dd's class has spent a lot of time observing her, and that is really good.

Now my sons who are in upper el, their teachers are really good at knowing each student and skipping steps if necessary. But at the primary level, I appreciate the steps and understand why they are there. If your child is going to be in this classroom for 3 years, with the same guide, what's the rush?

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#14 of 37 Old 09-14-2010, 05:27 PM
 
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As a PP said, I think it's ideal when they transition the kids in slowly so they get plenty of time to give individual lessons. I wish our school was like that, but instead they started the 4-5 yr olds first, then two weeks later the 3 yr olds. Most of the 4 and 5's were returning students, so of course they knew most of the work, and basic things such as how to roll a rug and push a chair in. But the 3's are all brand new, and a lot of them, like my DS, haven't been in any kind of school or daycare so just being away from mom and home is a big deal. They aren't used to following directions such as how to line up, or waiting for turns with work (not saying all kids are this way, but even with 3 older siblings - mine is having a hard time not doing exactly what he wants, when he wants). He's 3.5 yrs... he doesn't even always want to sit for circle time to sing songs. Luckily, his teacher has decided if he's not bothering anyone else, he can sit across the room playing with the farm animals quietly. He'll get it, at some point. But for now, just the transition from playing all day at home, to a more structured setting (and of course Montessori isn't all that structured, when you look at how most work cycle's go). But it's still a big change. And they have 18 other children to consider.

The first couple weeks are generally to ease the kids in, and to get an idea of the dynamics of the classroom. Even more so if the teacher or assistant happens to be new, yk? I have two kids in two different 3-6 classroom (as well as one in a 6-9 class), and at the beginning, all the work isn't even set out on shelves. As a former 0-3 teacher, I completely understand why they do this. I'd go crazy with a classfull of kids - even if only 1/3 of them were new - who needed/wanted lessons on whatever work interested them at that moment. Yes, Montessori is about following the child, and thus, is very much child-led; however, the materials have specific purposes, and it's pretty important that a proper lesson be given before a child is 'allowed' to choose that work.

I could see my 5 yo saying he's bored so far (except he hasn't), b/c maybe at this point he's really only doing the pink tower and geometrical solids, and a handful of other work. He's new to Montessori, so it's his first year in a 3-6 instead of his 3rd year. He may very well be eyeing the binomial/trinomial cubes, but for whatever reason he hasn't had a lesson on it yet -- maybe the teacher has been overwhelmed with teaching the LO's the basics or maybe she feels my DS isn't truly ready for it.

If it were the end of the school year, or even mid-way, I'd say it might be a concern of mine to have the work so limited for individual children. By then, hopefully everyone has adjusted (you know, things such as the 3 yo's who cry for the first 20 minutes at drop-off no longer do) and the classroom flows in harmony. The directress should then have ample amount of time to sit down and give Johnny a lesson on using the brown stairs. By then, she will have had time to not only work with Johnny on other materials, but she will have spent a few months observing him. Observation is one of the most critical aspects of Montessori and following the child.

Of course not all M schools are the same - we are at our 3rd one now, and they all have had pluses and minuses - but I do think it's pretty typical to be a bit slow going, so to speak, at the beginning of the year. I will give my school even more slack, b/c it's part of the public school system and is also a regular elementary school (in the same building). So, they have things such as the pledge, and the other classroom schedule's to consider - who's turn it is for PE, art, music, computer lab, recess.

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#15 of 37 Old 09-14-2010, 06:03 PM
 
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My middle son (now a new lower elementary 1st grade) entered Montessori knowing his letters, numbers and ready to learn, and he still had to do all the "steps." He never complained he was bored until last year (K year) when he felt he wasn't getting lessons fast enough. In his teacher's defense he wanted a new one every day! Be patient. Like above posters have said, if you get 2-3 months down the road and your child STILL hasn't been shown much work I would express my concerns then. For now, it sounds like Montessori.

Child-led doesn't mean they always get to do exactly what they want. If that were so I am certain my oldest (8) would spend the entire day socializing and having recess. But, alas, he must work and that must include things he doesn't like so much, like math. so there is definitely "direction" involved. They can "choose" from a series of materials they have been given instruction on and can pretty much do what they like during the day, but if the teacher sees they are focusing too much on one type of work they will generally guide them elsewhere. Make sense?

In our school the first year is 1/2 day as well with full day at this age being "nappers." I can tell you that my now 6 1/2 year old who loved school and couldn't wait to stay all day came home on day two of his second full day in year two and told me "I just can't stand all these kids!" He was overwhelmed. I don't think most 3-4 year olds are ready for the all day class. And afternoon is much more academic in focus.

Basically Montessori is a completely different learning philosophy that you either buy into or you don't. I would really encourage you to give it a chance to work. We have three kids in Montessori (one 1st year primary and two lower elementary) and have loved what it has done for them. It cannot be compared to a play based or any other type of preschool because they are apples and oranges. Give your child a chance to adjust, too. She may be feeling frustrated coming from play-based but may come to love the independence and sense of accomplishment she will feel as she masters the different work and moves up. Good luck!
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#16 of 37 Old 09-15-2010, 03:59 AM
 
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This is an interesting topic that I feel like is a pretty common theme. My son is in a Montessori school. I completed a Montessori training course. We were never taught that children should only be allowed to work with some material if they have had a lesson with it. I was taught that because it is child lead, a child should be free to use the materials and experiment (in a genuine way - not throwing things across the room or something). A key component of the materials is that much of it is self correcting and therefore perfect for the child to attempt to do it on his or her own. Children are great observers - and often quite capable if they watch another child work with some material or watch the teacher give another child a lesson, to then be able to do it themselves. Part of the reason for mixed age classrooms is so that the children can learn from each other. This was illustrated so beautifully for me one time when an older boy helped a newer boy work with some math material (and no, the new boy had not had a lesson on it - he was trying to figure it out after watching another kid do it). I think too much emphasis is often put on the materials and using it just exactly correctly. Sorry to hear your DD is bored. That is unfortunate and, I think, unnecessary in a Montessori classroom.
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having a lesson from an older child is still a lesson, yk? and sure, most works are self correcting/self taught. And I do think it is weird that the child isn't allowed to touch things, that seems contrary to Montessori. I would do a little reading and schedule an observation.

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#18 of 37 Old 09-16-2010, 02:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Sorry if it came across that way. When I was touring all the play-based schools I looked at were really...enthusiastic. I don't think it's a bad thing. It was just not our style.

That was a real example. The kids came in, and it was Peter Rabbit week and they were lead around the room hopping like bunnies. I definitely didn't mean it as derogatory. It's just that having worked in a kindergarten I saw (and saw this in many of the daycares and schools that I toured) that the daily rhythm was a lot about the adult deciding when to get the kids excited and when to calm them down. Which is not a bad thing! It just wasn't right for my son at that age. Soon I think he probably would like that kind of thing.

The nap is mandatory by regulation at certain ages, but our Montessori doesn't have naps for the 4+ year olds unless they need it.

For the works...I do think with Montessori you either buy in that certain works are presented, or you don't. I don't mind because it's very like home. My son is eagerly awaiting his 8th birthday so that he can clean the toilet. (I imagine this will change when he gets older. ). But if you're not ok with it, that's really good information.

Thanks, I appreciate that!

That's interesting about the mandatory naptime, I have no idea if it is mandatory in this state (MD) or not.

Here *all* the works have to be presented before a child can use them. There aren't any that are just free for them to use. For these few weeks of school at the beginning, they have dough and markers for the kids to use when they don't have any *work* to do. Today my daughter had her first (she says) official lesson... using a strawberry huller to move little balls from a bowl to a tray with an indentation for each ball. I know exactly which work it is. This just... I mean she could do stuff like that a year ago, easily! I feel like the curriculum assumes your kid does not know ANYthing, like they've been living in a vacuum pre-Montessori, and it is so weird to me.
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Oh, yuck. Didn't they transition the new kids in one at a time?

At our school, new kids are transitioned into the class room one or two kids at a time. (That mean that DS#2 didn't start until the first week of October during his first year!)The teacher spends a whole week focusing mostly on those kids and their transition. She spends a lot of time showing them how to use materials. She spends a lot of time getting the older children to show them materials. By the end of the week, the kids have a lot of stuff that they have been shown and can do.

If it's a problem, I'd say something to the teacher. She needs to get on the stick about presenting the materials to the children so that they can get busy working. If she's not doing it, it might be time to find a different school.

BTW, the nap thing might not be the school's fault. I live in Illinois (near St. Louis, but on the Illinois side.) The State of Illinois requires two hours of nap-time for every child under age 5 in a day care or school setting. It's mandatory. There are no other options.

Wow, no, they do not do that! That transition sounds like it would be way more fun or the kids involved. I don't know. She does say she is having fun and loves school, but I am just not sure *I* love her school. This parenting thing is way too hard some days!
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#20 of 37 Old 09-16-2010, 03:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My middle son (now a new lower elementary 1st grade) entered Montessori knowing his letters, numbers and ready to learn, and he still had to do all the "steps." He never complained he was bored until last year (K year) when he felt he wasn't getting lessons fast enough. In his teacher's defense he wanted a new one every day! Be patient. Like above posters have said, if you get 2-3 months down the road and your child STILL hasn't been shown much work I would express my concerns then. For now, it sounds like Montessori.

Child-led doesn't mean they always get to do exactly what they want. If that were so I am certain my oldest (8) would spend the entire day socializing and having recess. But, alas, he must work and that must include things he doesn't like so much, like math. so there is definitely "direction" involved. They can "choose" from a series of materials they have been given instruction on and can pretty much do what they like during the day, but if the teacher sees they are focusing too much on one type of work they will generally guide them elsewhere. Make sense?

In our school the first year is 1/2 day as well with full day at this age being "nappers." I can tell you that my now 6 1/2 year old who loved school and couldn't wait to stay all day came home on day two of his second full day in year two and told me "I just can't stand all these kids!" He was overwhelmed. I don't think most 3-4 year olds are ready for the all day class. And afternoon is much more academic in focus.

Basically Montessori is a completely different learning philosophy that you either buy into or you don't. I would really encourage you to give it a chance to work. We have three kids in Montessori (one 1st year primary and two lower elementary) and have loved what it has done for them. It cannot be compared to a play based or any other type of preschool because they are apples and oranges. Give your child a chance to adjust, too. She may be feeling frustrated coming from play-based but may come to love the independence and sense of accomplishment she will feel as she masters the different work and moves up. Good luck!
Is it too much for them to have a new lesson every day? Especially with the very simple lessons... I'm asking honestly, I really don't know the actual *flow* of how things go in the classroom. I've been doing tons of reading and there are some excellent videos on youtube about Montessori, but that's not the same thing as having observed an entire day once or twice.

I do appreciate you saying that your little guy was not bored, that is very helpful. Mine does not seem bored anymore, which is better. FWIW you should all know that the difficulties we are having are all MOM based. She loves her school. She says her favorite part of the day is "Loving everyone." She has been very excited to hold the flag while they said Pledge of Allegiance on one day, and the next she got to put out the cups for snack, so she felt very special. Soon they will be incorporating show and tell, and each child being the "helper" for the day, which I know she will LOOOOVE!

The Montessori methods for math and letters actually sounds pretty amazing to me, it's just the getting there that I am a bit frustrated with.
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#21 of 37 Old 09-16-2010, 03:08 PM
 
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Oh, yuck. Didn't they transition the new kids in one at a time?

At our school, new kids are transitioned into the class room one or two kids at a time. (That mean that DS#2 didn't start until the first week of October during his first year!)The teacher spends a whole week focusing mostly on those kids and their transition. She spends a lot of time showing them how to use materials. She spends a lot of time getting the older children to show them materials. By the end of the week, the kids have a lot of stuff that they have been shown and can do.

If it's a problem, I'd say something to the teacher. She needs to get on the stick about presenting the materials to the children so that they can get busy working. If she's not doing it, it might be time to find a different school.

BTW, the nap thing might not be the school's fault. I live in Illinois (near St. Louis, but on the Illinois side.) The State of Illinois requires two hours of nap-time for every child under age 5 in a day care or school setting. It's mandatory. There are no other options.


The transition period wasn't as long at my kids' Montessori schools, but it followed the same general pattern. IIRC, the 3 y.o.'s were introduced into the 3 to 6 y.o. class over a 1 week period, maybe 2 or 3 new students each day. Out of a class of approximately 25, each Sept. there would 1/3rd or about 8 or 9 new 3 y.o's. The gradual transition gave the directress plenty of opportunity to introduce them to the routines and materials.
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This is an interesting topic that I feel like is a pretty common theme. My son is in a Montessori school. I completed a Montessori training course. We were never taught that children should only be allowed to work with some material if they have had a lesson with it. I was taught that because it is child lead, a child should be free to use the materials and experiment (in a genuine way - not throwing things across the room or something). A key component of the materials is that much of it is self correcting and therefore perfect for the child to attempt to do it on his or her own. Children are great observers - and often quite capable if they watch another child work with some material or watch the teacher give another child a lesson, to then be able to do it themselves. Part of the reason for mixed age classrooms is so that the children can learn from each other. This was illustrated so beautifully for me one time when an older boy helped a newer boy work with some math material (and no, the new boy had not had a lesson on it - he was trying to figure it out after watching another kid do it). I think too much emphasis is often put on the materials and using it just exactly correctly. Sorry to hear your DD is bored. That is unfortunate and, I think, unnecessary in a Montessori classroom.
What you are describing sounds lovely to me. On the one hand I do understand that they don't want to have someone building a pink tower and then knocking it down and knocking blocks all over the room or something, but assuming that they are working with it in a reasonable way, quietly, on a rug? Why not give them that opportunity to just LOOK at the materials and try to figure it out? I just don't see what harm it can do.
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having a lesson from an older child is still a lesson, yk? and sure, most works are self correcting/self taught. And I do think it is weird that the child isn't allowed to touch things, that seems contrary to Montessori. I would do a little reading and schedule an observation.
They are recommending we don't do observations until November. The school is an open school, I can go in and peek any time I like, but they'd prefer we wait to do actual observations. By then we'll be locked in to this school... we have a 30 day period to figure out if it is working for us or not.

I agree that a lesson from an older child is still a lesson!
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Is it too much for them to have a new lesson every day? Especially with the very simple lessons... I'm asking honestly, I really don't know the actual *flow* of how things go in the classroom. I've been doing tons of reading and there are some excellent videos on youtube about Montessori, but that's not the same thing as having observed an entire day once or twice.

I do appreciate you saying that your little guy was not bored, that is very helpful. Mine does not seem bored anymore, which is better. FWIW you should all know that the difficulties we are having are all MOM based. She loves her school. She says her favorite part of the day is "Loving everyone." She has been very excited to hold the flag while they said Pledge of Allegiance on one day, and the next she got to put out the cups for snack, so she felt very special. Soon they will be incorporating show and tell, and each child being the "helper" for the day, which I know she will LOOOOVE!

The Montessori methods for math and letters actually sounds pretty amazing to me, it's just the getting there that I am a bit frustrated with.
I just noticed you are in Maryland. I do believe the nap thing is mandatory as we are in Maryland, too (Annapolis area) and we do that, too. Even the kids who are 4 I believe are not transitioned to full day until they are officially 4 1/2 (even if that is mid year). Next year will be my first experience with that since my youngest has an April birthday so won't be 4 1/2 until October. My other two had January birthdays so started their full day year the second year of Montessori.

As for lessons every day, I guess you have to realize that the teacher has probably close to 30 children in a class. In a half/day situation the teacher may not be able to present a new lesson EVERY day but I believe in the beginning they probably do more new ones to get the little ones up to speed with enough to keep them busy. In my middle son's case he was in his third year and some of the lessons were more advanced. In fact, she would even skip him ahead a lesson or two, particularly in math, then go back. The catch with him is that he always THINKS he "has it" after one lesson but in reality needs to practice and get it down before going on. When you get to the beads and higher math, the new lessons slow down, I think.

At our school we are not allowed to observe the 1/2 day students until next semester (it is distracting and many who are still getting used to being in a class can get upset if mom comes in then leaves wihout them). But I have heard of other schools that have one-way glass or other ways to observe. Are you able to observe your daughter's class? That would be a good way to get a good idea of what actually goes on in her particular classroom.
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Sorry if it came across that way. When I was touring all the play-based schools I looked at were really...enthusiastic. I don't think it's a bad thing. It was just not our style.

That was a real example. The kids came in, and it was Peter Rabbit week and they were lead around the room hopping like bunnies. I definitely didn't mean it as derogatory. It's just that having worked in a kindergarten I saw (and saw this in many of the daycares and schools that I toured) that the daily rhythm was a lot about the adult deciding when to get the kids excited and when to calm them down. Which is not a bad thing! It just wasn't right for my son at that age. Soon I think he probably would like that kind of thing.

The nap is mandatory by regulation at certain ages, but our Montessori doesn't have naps for the 4+ year olds unless they need it.

For the works...I do think with Montessori you either buy in that certain works are presented, or you don't. I don't mind because it's very like home. My son is eagerly awaiting his 8th birthday so that he can clean the toilet. (I imagine this will change when he gets older. ). But if you're not ok with it, that's really good information.
I meant to ask before, but forgot... why does he have to wait until he is 8 to clean the toilet?
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I just noticed you are in Maryland. I do believe the nap thing is mandatory as we are in Maryland, too (Annapolis area) and we do that, too. Even the kids who are 4 I believe are not transitioned to full day until they are officially 4 1/2 (even if that is mid year). Next year will be my first experience with that since my youngest has an April birthday so won't be 4 1/2 until October. My other two had January birthdays so started their full day year the second year of Montessori.

As for lessons every day, I guess you have to realize that the teacher has probably close to 30 children in a class. In a half/day situation the teacher may not be able to present a new lesson EVERY day but I believe in the beginning they probably do more new ones to get the little ones up to speed with enough to keep them busy. In my middle son's case he was in his third year and some of the lessons were more advanced. In fact, she would even skip him ahead a lesson or two, particularly in math, then go back. The catch with him is that he always THINKS he "has it" after one lesson but in reality needs to practice and get it down before going on. When you get to the beads and higher math, the new lessons slow down, I think.

At our school we are not allowed to observe the 1/2 day students until next semester (it is distracting and many who are still getting used to being in a class can get upset if mom comes in then leaves wihout them). But I have heard of other schools that have one-way glass or other ways to observe. Are you able to observe your daughter's class? That would be a good way to get a good idea of what actually goes on in her particular classroom.
That's actually really helpful to know the 4.5 thing is not a Montessori cutoff, but state rules. Thank you!

There is a window in the door of her room, and I have gone in and peeked a few times, but I don't want her to see me. I wish they had the one-way glass or a webcam or something! That would be fantastic!

Everything you've said here makes sense. Our room is more like 22 kids, but it makes sense that lessons will slow down as they become more complex and harder to really master.
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What you are describing sounds lovely to me. On the one hand I do understand that they don't want to have someone building a pink tower and then knocking it down and knocking blocks all over the room or something, but assuming that they are working with it in a reasonable way, quietly, on a rug? Why not give them that opportunity to just LOOK at the materials and try to figure it out? I just don't see what harm it can do.
It doesn't do any harm - and in fact would be quite good. The woman who ran our training program (a much older woman who had been at this a long time and had a lot of experience in the classroom) emphasized over and over that the teacher needs to sit back and observe the children as they work. It is meant to be the children's environment and that environment should be set up for them to use. It's the teachers job to set up that environment, be available to the child if they need guidance and observe the child to see what they are doing, what they know, etc - it should be child directed, not teacher directed in practice (the teacher does sort of "behind the scenes" directing by setting up the classroom a certain way). Again, it is my experience that often times too much emphasis is put on the materials while missing some of the key points of the philosophy.
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Is it too much for them to have a new lesson every day? Especially with the very simple lessons... I'm asking honestly, I really don't know the actual *flow* of how things go in the classroom.
It depends on the kid, of course. A new lesson every day may be fine....a couple of new lessons in a day may be fine....one new lesson a week may be all a certain child wants/needs (I am thinking more when you get up to the harder math stuff maybe). The key is it should be child driven - so if a child is asking for new lessons often, then the child must want/need them. I have seen that in the first few days the kids seem to want to do a lot/have a lot of lessons/have a chance to touch or use everything because it is all new to them. A child should be allowed to satisfy that need. That sort of jumping around isn't sustained - a child usually pretty quickly settles in, gets more focused, spends more time on their job and doesn't jump around so much.

I guess as I think about this question more, if a child is in a classroom where they can only use material if they have had a lesson on it and they are only getting one lesson a day, what do they do all day - especially in the beginning? The same one or two things over and over? I really don't believe Montessori intended for that kind of dynamic in the classroom.
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I meant to ask before, but forgot... why does he have to wait until he is 8 to clean the toilet?
Oh it's half random and half bad childhood experiences.

First, we do use strong cleaners on our toilet - for most of the house we're better environmentally but not for toilets; it's a dumb thing of mine. Anyways when my son was 3 he was helping me clean the bathroom and flicked the brush so that the cleaner/germs went into his hair, so I said we'd better wait. He asked how old he had to be so I randomly said 8. Now it's kind of a joke.

Second, when I was 7 my job was cleaning the bathroom and I managed to mix bleach and ammonia and gave myself what family legend calls chemical pneumonia (a trip to the ER and oxygen, at least). My mother was the kind of mother that went ballistic on Saturday berating everyone for being pigs and cleaning was - fraught. So I have this hangup about kids and cleaning products and not forcing responsibility too early.

...which makes Montessori a healthy BUT ironic choice for our family. But in my defense, my son helps with tons and tons of other things. Just not bathroom cleanser things.

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I guess as I think about this question more, if a child is in a classroom where they can only use material if they have had a lesson on it and they are only getting one lesson a day, what do they do all day - especially in the beginning? The same one or two things over and over? I really don't believe Montessori intended for that kind of dynamic in the classroom.
This is really making me want to go observe my son's school because although as I said it can be a bit slow at the start compared to later, I don't think it's quite so rigid or - something. I can ask.

~ 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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#30 of 37 Old 09-17-2010, 08:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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It depends on the kid, of course. A new lesson every day may be fine....a couple of new lessons in a day may be fine....one new lesson a week may be all a certain child wants/needs (I am thinking more when you get up to the harder math stuff maybe). The key is it should be child driven - so if a child is asking for new lessons often, then the child must want/need them. I have seen that in the first few days the kids seem to want to do a lot/have a lot of lessons/have a chance to touch or use everything because it is all new to them. A child should be allowed to satisfy that need. That sort of jumping around isn't sustained - a child usually pretty quickly settles in, gets more focused, spends more time on their job and doesn't jump around so much.

I guess as I think about this question more, if a child is in a classroom where they can only use material if they have had a lesson on it and they are only getting one lesson a day, what do they do all day - especially in the beginning? The same one or two things over and over? I really don't believe Montessori intended for that kind of dynamic in the classroom.
Thank you! This is exactly what I have been getting at. They have a section they can use; it's like lacing beads, a few puzzles, and some little plasticy things that stick together. I can't think of the name, but kind of circular with notches in so you can build stuff with them. Plus they can color and do playdough. And now my girl can use a strawberry huller to move little balls from a bowl into a plate. Which I understand is a good pre-writing skill, but... I mean it just seems kinda boring to me.
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