I have two issues going on with my daughter. The first is not wanting to go to school. The second is reading progress.
I knew that my daughter would need time to transition to her new 6-9 year old classroom. However, it is now November and she increasingly doesn't want to go to school. She complains of stomach aches. Two weeks ago she told the teacher she threw up in her mouth so that she could go home sick. Later she admitted to me that she lied.
She started this school when she was 4. She is now a first grader. She has been working on word boxes for atleast a year and a half. She still seems to struggle with very simple words. She has read the book Hop on Pop to me, but she still doesn't seem to be making the reading strides that SHE would like to be making. She has friends reading chapter books, etc.
I feel like she has been in a sensitive period for language for a long time, but I worry that perhaps the type of instruction isn't a good match for her. Could she need more explicit reading instruction than she is getting? Should she be evaluated for a learning difficulty? Her teacher has been teaching at this school for 10 years and tends to more "go with the flow." The other junior elementary teacher is a bit more verbal and also trained in Orton-Gillingham reading instruction.
What are your thoughts? Do I give it more time?
I'd definitely start looking into reasons she's not progressing in reading. First, I'd see if she has some of the fundamental phonemic awareness skills necessary for reading and the ability to blend sounds. I'd also look at her vision, including her ability to track and for her eyes to work together. I think Montessori provides some pretty specific reading instruction - starting with the letter shape and sounds, moving up incrementally, and then onto comprehesion of 1 word and then short sentences and longer ones. How are her other skills, like math?
If she's anxious about her reading success, then I completely understand her negative feelings about school. I'd try to emphasize that it's not about how fast she's learning it, but that she's putting forth the effort to learn it. It's not a race between her and her friends. That said, if she is that anxious about, then it's certainly worth investigating. If it's a private school, the public schools (either your neighborhood district or possibly the district the school is located in) can do evaluations for free (not the vision piece). I'd caution, though, that some public school employees take an anti-Montessori perspective (sometimes even just anti-private), so really know what's best about Montessori for your dd to not be disuaded by the district and make your own choices.
Have you had a heart-to-heart with your daughter's teacher and clearly explained your concerns? What did she present as viable options? Did she suggest changing teahers? Did she suggest alternative work?
FWIW..Our montessori actually differs in their reading instruction and instead utilizes the "Words in Color" approach, and they find it highly successful. I could not be happier about DD's reading progress, and I attribute it to this method simply because it focuses on phenom awareness, which will simply aid her in the future instead of focusing on reading rules and exceptions (which there are a ton in the english language).
I definitely agree with Rose-Roget. You need to find out if there is a problem making it difficult for your child to learn to read. Her negative feelings and not wanting to go are very consistent with her not feeling successful. She wants to be succesful and it just isn't happening.
My daughter had this problem about the same age, attending a public school. Even though she was in the gifted program from an early age, she was falling farther and farther behind on reading. We moved to another town so she could go to a Waldorf, and later a Montessori for Jr high, and she improved somewhat. But she was still always several grades behind in reading, until we finally discovered an osteopath that specializes in cranial osteopathy. He works closely with an optometrist, adjusting the lens prescription until it is exactly right, to the precise diopter on each eye so that the body responds by relaxing. When relaxed even the eyes can heal, the cranium can adjust. All sorts of problems can clear up, with jaw clenching, teeth grinding, mouth breathing, etc., but what really amazed me was the vision improvement. I took my son through the series of appointments as well -- his vision had begun to rapidly degrade at the same age as his father had, and he wore very thick glasses. My son wore the adjusted prescription, had to change the glasses every 4-6 months because they became too strong, until after just 2 years he no longer needs glasses at all. My daughter still wears them but is much improved.
Thank you all for the feedback! (For some reason I didn't receive your responses via email and I didn't think anyone had responded).
Rumsmyname....I think you are right on. She is not feeling successful despite her efforts.
We just finished a 5 day break from school. Last night, she heard that school was today, and she started dreading it. Saying she didn't want to go. Complaining of stomach problems. Asking to be homeschooled. She explained to me that she is suppoesd to do 4 math problems a day and that she isn't doing them fast enough. She said that her math and word boxes are hard and that it feels like pushing a really big load. She has said that she feels liks she didn't finish Kindergarten. She doesn't feel like she can go to her main teacher because she thinks he won't answer her questions. She goes instead to the assistant.
She does have phonemic awareness. I think she has been able to sound out. I just think she is struggling to learn how to decode bigger words and sight words. I think she may need more explicit reading instruction. She does also struggle with math. However, she is a bright enough child that writes alot, creates stories, loves to be read to (has been read to daily since a baby).
This is frustrating because it makes me question whether Montessori is going to be a good fit for her. I have spoken to the teacher. Now I spoke to the director about the possibility of a classroom change. I think the other teacher is more explicit and willing to explain things as much as my daughter needs them explained. We are going to meet with the director this week to discuss it. I wouldn't switch her if we were looking at a one year classroom, but with a 3 year classroom, I would.
I took her for an eye appointment and will need to return to have her eyes dilated for proper evaluation.
Wow, this REALLY sounds like my daughter... the teachers who explained more helped her the most, because she was having trouble with her eyes and developing a strong reliance on auditory learning. When I asked the eye doctor if dilation was necessary, because we prefer to avoid such medications, she said she did not need to dilate the eyes for the exam because dilation is really only necessary to check for glaucoma and other conditions which are extremely rare in children, and most probably not a cause of these sorts of behavioral or learning issues. She was willing to complete the exam without dilation. Eye-related learning problems may only be resolvable, however, with very accurate prescriptions, and/or with the corresponding osteopathic adjustments.
On the other hand-- have you heard of Brain Gym? Perhaps these simple hemispheric repatterning exercises would do the trick, if her eyes are normal. They did seem to help my daughter, too.
I have 2 boys in Montessori. My 7 1/2 yr old got held back so this year started grade one a year later than he should have.
He still cannot read anything but very basic books and his writing is impossible. He seems to be a slow learner but the teacher won't comment?? As long as he is progressing she is happy. The progress seems very slow. He confuses d and b and some numbers too. I taught him how to tell the time over Christmas break and it was tough and he has forgotten almost completely now. I would like to put him in tutoring but we can't afford it and my husband thinks we spend enough ($700 p/m).
The teacher is very experienced and much loved and trusted at the school. I don't know but i just don't feel completely happy. My oldest is doing fantastic.
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Sometimes montessori is a better fit for children than other methods of schooling. I like the work at your own pace,but I have found that my own kids are lacking in some areas.So it is not always such a good thing. I think if they were put into a public school they would NOT do well,even though our local M says the kids from M test higher than other kids.
If there are no medical issues I would say finding some online or learning pc games would be helpful to get your child doing better. I don't really like having to teach my kids at home on top of paying a high tuition,but sometimes that is what we have to do. I hope you can find some ways to get the reading to click.
Personally, I'm very orthodox Montessori on letting children develop at their own pace and develop their own interests. Some children are still in a very creative stage at this time and stressing academics can interfere with their personal identity. My daughter was much the same, she struggled with learning her sounds, was a late reader and getting frustrated. However, this year, she is taking off. She is in 3rd grade. I know it's hard as a Mother. It was for me, I wondered why it wasn't coming easy for her.
Our school does have a reading evaluation before 1st grade, and tutoring for children who test low. T
I don't know that I can say this extra intervention really made the difference or that this is just her personal timing. One thing I can say is that it's not very unusual for a 7 year old to still be in the needing lots of practice stage and to confuse the b and ds. I see this alot.
I have to say, it's hard to say that the Montessori reading program isn't working if it isn't being properly implemented. The reading lessons progress from phonetic words to puzzle (sight) words and then there are a whole series of phonogram lessons which are crucial in learning English. Then, the child should have lots of practice with reading classification which progress from single word to short phrases to sentences. Then more reading (and writing) practice with the Function of Words ("The Farm") and Sentence Analysis. We also have tangential Word Study activities such as Antonyms, Synonyms and Compound Words. And this is just in Primary (my training). Elementary classes (should) have another whole series of presentations to engage the child in language.
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