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#1 of 14 Old 03-10-2011, 11:26 AM - Thread Starter
 
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DS is four and has been attending a local M preschool for a year and a half.  Mostly it's fine.  I have known all along that it's not purely a Montessori curriculum, but he's been mostly happy and I'm picking my battles. 

 

In the past couple of weeks, he's been grumbling more about school and the teachers have been pulling me aside to mention listening issues and him not wanting to do his work.  He's been not listening much at home either so I wasn't too surprised.  But yesterday, I got a new view into the problem.  Several times, DS has said he doesn't want to do tracing.  Yesterday, his teacher showed me a tracing worksheet as an example of him not doing his work.  He'd done about a quarter of it.  I asked "is this bad?" and she informed me that they're supposed to do one tracing sheet in the morning and one in the afternoon.  It's a double-sided sheet with tight rows of letters and numbers filling both sides.  

 

Ok, if I had to do that twice a day I'd be grumbling too!!  I tried to make sure DS didn't see my reaction.  The last thing we need is him feeding off my negative reaction to his school work.  I talked to DS a bit about it and he reeeeeally wants to do workbooks like the older kids at the same time.  But a quick chat with the teacher informed me that workbooks are for kids that are closer to writing. 

 

Now, I can get him a workbook to do at home if that's what he wants.  I may even be able to get the teachers to let him do it at school if I pushed it.  But...isn't the core of Montessori that the learning is child-led?  They get to do lessons, but then decide what work to do?

 

I don't want to be "that mom".  I think he should learn to do not-fun assignments.  But at the same time, he's four---a year and a half from regular kindergarten.  He's very bright and learns instantly if he's engaged.  But he's also stubborn and pissed off about the tracing issues, and is feeding off the teachers' frustrations. 

 

There's another school down the road a bit that has a more traditional curriculum--though I'm not sure I can afford it.  I didn't look at it before, though I should have.  I also don't want to set a precedent of yanking him when something doesn't go our way. 

 

So...we're working on the listening.  We talked about doing the tracing so he can get good enough to do the workbooks.  I'm going to let him get a workbook this weekend.  But...does the twice daily big tracing assignments sound normal?  Yes, his beginning handwriting is beautiful, but his temperment and mine are pretty similar, and I know that as soon as schoolwork seemed pointless, I quit trying.  Keep me engaged and I'd learn years beyond my grade level.  He's the same way. 

 

Any advice, suggestions, "hang in there"s, etc would be highly welcome.

 

Anyone come out with that handbook for parents yet???  ;)

 

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#2 of 14 Old 03-11-2011, 06:53 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Mini-update:  we got a preschool workbook.  I usually avoid academics at home, but it's his biggest desire right now.  He did several activities last night and asked to bring the workbook to school.  I let him bring it but warned him that the teachers might not want him to do his home workbook during tracing time.  But the teacher was more than happy to see it and liked the one we picked.  She'd also apparently hit the "if it's not working, it's time for a change" stage and had several worksheets printed for him to do later today.  It seemed to be timed with a visit from the owner of the school yesterday.  When I picked DS up, he was sitting with the owner working on the dreaded tracing.  I suspect she nudged the change along since it's been an on-going battle that was making everyone miserable.  He'd be more than happy to practice writing -- if it were in a different format. 

 

So, hopefully we've reached a happy medium.  I'm still curious about the child-led aspect of Montessori and how it plays into this scenario.  I am fully aware that child-led doesn't mean do whatever they way.  But I would have thought they'd change things up a while ago rather than three weeks of misery for everyone.

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#3 of 14 Old 03-16-2011, 07:09 PM
 
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I just read your original post and update all together, so it sounds like things are much improved now.  For what it's worth, we had a VERY similar situation with our 4 yo in  Montessori program.  He was really resisting a lot of the work they were introducing and the teacher seemed oblivious to it.  He'd come home day after day without anything completed and when I asked him what he did, it was always the more "play" activities of cutting fruit and folding napkins.  When I asked if he did a tracing sheet or a math activity, he would tell me it was only for the other children (clearly something someone told him, since he loves doing math work at home and was developmentally ready to do it at school too).  I finally sent him to school a few times with samples of what he was doing at home and then followed up with a brief conference with his teacher.  That seemed to improve things and I know she did some one-on-one work with him after we spoke.  

 

I think there are a lot of kids in the class (for us, 28 kids to 3 teachers) and it seemed she just needed a reminder.  Kudos to you for sending him to school with the workbook.  I wonder if you had asked her in advance if she could recommend a workbook for you to get, what she would have said?  Sorry you had to go through the 3 long weeks, but it's great to hear it's better now.

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#4 of 14 Old 03-17-2011, 07:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks. smile.gif Everyone is much happier finally. Turns out they're having him sit with the other teacher at that time. It's giving everyone a breather. He's even doing some tracing again. And he loves his special worksheets. I did decide to schedule a tour with the other M school for several reasons. Maybe for the fall (with an eye on their afterschool program the next year). We'll figure it all out eventully!

Oh, and the teacher did like the workbook we picked. She said it's a good series. I chose one with pictures that were engaging for DS, and at a decent skill-level for him. He liked it so much, that I ordered a few more that I'll probably put in his Easter basket and hold the others until he's ready for the harder ones. The special worksheets are going so well at school that she's just making sure to have some each day. The whole attitude about school is hugely improved. He's so bright and so stubborn that he could easilly get turned off school if they hadn't been willing to change things up. I'm very relieved!! Now I can decide in peace if we want to switch to the other school next fall. Having a year to get used to the place that would do before/after care once he started kindergarten is worth looking into! I know I could breath more easilly knowing he was situated through third grade!
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#5 of 14 Old 03-18-2011, 09:52 AM
 
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So glad to hear things are working out. Getting turned off to school is exactly what you don't want to happen.

 

I'm a toddler teacher-in-training--here's my take...Yes, Montessori philosophy is all about following the child. Sounds like you did good by providing him something he was interested in. Montessori work is also done in stages - simple to complex so there may be some resistance to letting him jump to something more complex if he hasn't "mastered" the more simple level - I'm just trying to understand why he might not be allowed to pursue something he's interested in. Also, if he is unable for some reason to use the work correctly - either he doesn't understand or isn't mature enough for it, that might be a reason to discourage a particular work. I cringe just a little when I hear that they are "supposed" to do one sheet in the morning and one in the afternoon. That doesn't particularly seem like following the child, but it does sound like overall, the teacher/school made some adjustments and things are better.

 

If you haven't already, you could try asking their reasoning behind requiring the children to do particular work. If he really is missing a skill that's needed, you can perhaps brainstorm some strategies for getting him interested. I keep having the remind myself to keep things in perspective too...we're talking about preschool right? I mean must it be so serious? Yes, you want him to develop disciple, but that must come from within himself, not because someone is commanding that he do a particular work. In my view, it's equally important that he retain his enthusiasm for learning.

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#6 of 14 Old 03-18-2011, 10:05 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by Redmamadeb View Post

So glad to hear things are working out. Getting turned off to school is exactly what you don't want to happen.

 

I'm a toddler teacher-in-training--here's my take...Yes, Montessori philosophy is all about following the child. Sounds like you did good by providing him something he was interested in. Montessori work is also done in stages - simple to complex so there may be some resistance to letting him jump to something more complex if he hasn't "mastered" the more simple level - I'm just trying to understand why he might not be allowed to pursue something he's interested in. Also, if he is unable for some reason to use the work correctly - either he doesn't understand or isn't mature enough for it, that might be a reason to discourage a particular work. I cringe just a little when I hear that they are "supposed" to do one sheet in the morning and one in the afternoon. That doesn't particularly seem like following the child, but it does sound like overall, the teacher/school made some adjustments and things are better.

 

If you haven't already, you could try asking their reasoning behind requiring the children to do particular work. If he really is missing a skill that's needed, you can perhaps brainstorm some strategies for getting him interested. I keep having the remind myself to keep things in perspective too...we're talking about preschool right? I mean must it be so serious? Yes, you want him to develop disciple, but that must come from within himself, not because someone is commanding that he do a particular work. In my view, it's equally important that he retain his enthusiasm for learning.


I agree with everything you've said.  Requiring that much tracing from 2-4 yr olds just seems a little much.  I'm not going to push it since they have made things more flexible now.  And yes, it's just preschool!  He's smart and very self-motivated when he is interested.  Retaining an eagerness to learn is key!  And I thought for a long time before switching him to a formal preschool.  I was worried that he'd miss out of time to just play.  But they do pretty well at alternating quiet time with run-around time.  I don't think his skills are really in question...the older kids have a specific workbook for pre-reading/writing things.  He's at the stage where he's learned the alphabet by sound and sight (mostly when he feels like it ;)) but isn't quite able to write all the letters without reminders.  Completely fine for his age.  I was an early reader, but I've purposefully held off from teaching him until he asked.  We've only just started playing with letter cards and doing C-A-T, M-A-T, F-A-T, R-A-T, etc type "games".  His brain works like mine a lot...when it clicks, he'll go from sounding things out to chapter books within a year or two.  I'm not worried about taking our time and waiting until he's ready for that. 

 

For now, we've reached a truce.  And I'm very interested in the other school.  It seems to be more of a pure Montessori curriculum.  I knew this one wasn't perfect and I've been choosing my battles all along.  And getting him settled in somewhere that can transition right into big kid after school care would be awfully nice! 
 

Thanks for the feedback to you both!  It's helpful to just have a sounding board sometimes!!

 

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#7 of 14 Old 03-20-2011, 12:11 PM
 
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I'm not sure if others may have suggested this, but my first inclination in reading your original post is to make him a "workbook" of tracing sheets, and maybe some other writing skills that are at his level. Maybe he would like it better if it were just in the format of the older kid's books.

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#8 of 14 Old 03-20-2011, 02:02 PM
 
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the skills that tracing is practicing can be done in many other ways -- dot to dot pictures, for example, coloring, mazes, beading, sewing, etc. IMO, it's developmentally inappropriate to have two dense tracing worksheets a day for a 4 year old. That doesn't follow Montessori curriculum, does it ? I thought the 3-6 age group focused on life skills type of things?


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#9 of 14 Old 03-21-2011, 06:20 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks.  I agree...I thought this age would do more life-skills with pre-reading skills as they were ready.  I have known all along that this school isn't a pure curriculum.  They've got the manipulatives, but I don't know if they ever use them with the little ones. 

 

The skills he learns from the tracing have been cumulative.  He went from straight lines when he was not quite three yrs old, to letters and numbers now.  And his letters are beautiful when he writes.  But I think he may have maxed out on the tracing.  There are alternate ways to practice writing and the school has thankfully continued to print out preschool worksheets for him to do during those time.  He thinks they're awesome and life is better in general.  A workbook of the regular tracing sheets wouldn't have done the trick in this case.  But the worksheets and his workbook at home to do when he likes are getting us through this.

 

Next week I've got a tour at a school that seems to be a lot purer curriculum.  If it works out, I'll probably transfer him in the fall.  Still need to get his dad on board since he has to chip in the extra tuition (and we should make education decisions together), but he sounds like he'll trust my judgment.

 

In the meantime...we have peace and it will soon be nice enough for the kids to spend lots more time outside.  They mellow out on the "school" stuff quite a bit in the summer and spend as much time as possible playing outside.

 

I appreciate everyone for chiming in.  I'm glad to know that my gut reaction about the mandetory tracing sheets twice a day wasn't totally off the wall.

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#10 of 14 Old 03-21-2011, 04:31 PM
 
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Do our kids go to the same school? I just posted a similar thread in the Learning At School forum (Trouble with Preschool). I'd love your BTDT input for my 3 year old. I wish DS was allowed to sew and cut fruit. Those are "usually for the older kids" according to his teacher. :-/


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#11 of 14 Old 03-22-2011, 08:15 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Do our kids go to the same school? I just posted a similar thread in the Learning At School forum (Trouble with Preschool). I'd love your BTDT input for my 3 year old. I wish DS was allowed to sew and cut fruit. Those are "usually for the older kids" according to his teacher. :-/


Oh, I like that your school has those options!  Mine is so stripped down that they don't do the fun life-skills stuff so we do it at home.  Maybe do more of those kinds of things at home?  DS loves to sew.  We don't cut things a lot, but whenever we go to Grandma's she has a special child-size set of silverware (old Disney stuff from when my sister was little).  He LOOOOOVES that little knife and will cut anything that sits still on his plate.  I'd say just give your DS a banana on a plate and a butter knife!  Or play-dough or whatever.  He's a good age for that kind of activity!
 

ETA:  Just read your original thread and I see the big similarities in our preschool issues.  :(  I left a big long answer over there, but I think you're on the right track to talk to the director asap!! 

 

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#12 of 14 Old 03-28-2011, 01:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Just a quick follow-up...

 

Toured the potential new school today and it was a breath of fresh air!  They were a true child-led curriculum with plenty of free play still.  THAT was what I came to Montessori for.  She emphasized that what we think of as "academics" should really be just fun exploration for kids this age.  They should think of it as playing.  And I liked that she told me that some days the kids just weren't going to do circle time and if it was clearly a loss for that day, the teachers go with it and move on.  They're not so stuck on a schedule that they'll fight with the kids to get it done.

 

I knew our other school didn't have the fanciest facility, but I trusted that the curriculum would still be there.  More and more bits that DS has been dropping lately have been showing me how wrong I was.  Kiss of death for the old preschool last night...I told him we were going to meet with a lady at another school that was like Miss S at his school (the owner who is mostly at another branch).  He flinched and immediately asked if she was mean!  I was surprised but stayed as neutral as I could and said that I didn't think so and was Miss S mean?  He imitated her raising her voice at the kids "You're NOT LISTENING!!" and showed me mean faces.  That with other descriptions of discipline I've heard lately really are making me uncomfortable.  EX:  one day he was really upset and said his teacher threw a toy of his away when he was playing with it at a time he shouldn't have been.  I later found it in his backpack, but she told him she threw it away and the garbage truck took it.  !!  And another day he told me that the teacher took one of the boys' blankie away for some reason or another.  And his favorite teacher who he adores, he is completely done with her because she was always getting mad during the stand-off about tracing.  (The same teacher that "threw away" his toy and took someone's blankie.)  Thankfully, she is not his main teacher anymore and he's happier with the other teacher for now.

 

We might not be in the middle of a crisis right now, but I'm about done with that school!!  I was thinking of transfering him in the fall, but I'm seriously considering transfering him in the summer session instead if I can bring XH on board.  (Mostly a formality, but I have to give him a vote anyway.)

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#13 of 14 Old 03-28-2011, 03:36 PM
 
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Toured the potential new school today and it was a breath of fresh air!  They were a true child-led curriculum with plenty of free play still.  THAT was what I came to Montessori for.  She emphasized that what we think of as "academics" should really be just fun exploration for kids this age.  They should think of it as playing.  And I liked that she told me that some days the kids just weren't going to do circle time and if it was clearly a loss for that day, the teachers go with it and move on.  They're not so stuck on a schedule that they'll fight with the kids to get it done.


That other school sounds a lot better, I hope the transfer goes smoothly!

 

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#14 of 14 Old 03-29-2011, 07:15 AM - Thread Starter
 
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That other school sounds a lot better, I hope the transfer goes smoothly!

 


XH agreed as expected.  We're going to enroll him starting in the summer.  DS is a little nervous to change schools, but he settles in quickly and he'll make a couple of buddies and be happy.  I think that him having preschool buddies to go to kindergarten with will actually make kindergarten an easier transition too...even if they're not in the same class, riding the bus together and things will be good for him. 

 

I was hoping to avoid more transitions for him before kindergarten, but there are too many things coming to light to make me comfortable with the status quo. 
 

 

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