Whew, I just read through all that! First off, you might also want to cross-post this on the gifted forum because they'll be able to give you some non-Montessori biased feedback too.
Ok, I personally love the Montessori philosophy and if it's done right it can be a very wonderful thing for kids learning on all ends of the spectrum. I'd make sure your local Montessori school is a true Montessori school (did you ask them how they deal with advanced learners? how flexible they are etc?). Also did you bring your daughter with on the tour? What were her thoughts?
The grade skip MIGHT work at the public school, but what happens then when she goes through the 2nd grade material quickly? Would they be willing to accelerate her even further in reading?
I think the drive sounds doable, we commute even longer than that (granted we have public transport here but we're thinking of getting a car soon). Definitely look into carpooling. Also, do you work? could you take a part-time job nearby during school hours to help off-set costs?
Honestly, if you have a GOOD Montessori school it's going to be a better fit but you need to make sure that's the case first. Talk with the teacher of the age group that your daughter would be in, see if you get a good vibe or not. Look at the type of books they have available too. Also, how far up does this Montessori school go to? Would she have to transfer elsewhere at middleschool or highschool (more just something to think about long term, right now you should do the best fit in the moment)?
Oh, and honestly? $7,000 sounds AMAZING for a Montessori school. We're paying over twice that (our school offers no financial aid) we still think it's worth it. Another thing... is there anything skills you could offer to the school that would help offset the costs (e.g. I had a friend who taught french at her kid's school so they could go for free)?
$7000 is really cheap.
Your dd being talkative shouldn't be a problem in a good Montessori school because the elementary classes feature and encourage group work because they know they've got a herd of social chatter bugs.
Check with the mamas in the Finding Your Tribe forum for your area because there could be things like school choice tax credits or smaller, less advertised Montessori schools, or more options like charter schools.
I like that you posted a link to my yahoo answers reply. :-)
I don't have time to reply to much here, but do want to write a blog this weekend if possible about starting Montessori Elementary without previous Montessori experience (I have a comedy show to do in Taipei on Sunday, so I'm not sure if I can). I will post a link to it once I have it up.
I agree $7K is really cheap, our school is more than that for half day. I pay $13,500 for elementary.
Sounds like your daughter would do well in Montessori, but that it is clearly a budget issue there.
One thought though - if the school was telling me they wanted my daughter to skip a grade I would be concerned about doing it for developmental reasons. I'm not sure I would want my child to be so much younger than the rest of her class throughout her schooling. I'm concerned about my son becuase he's a june birthday and the cutoff is september and everyone I know with July & August boys are holding them back a year for development, so he'll be the youngest boy in his class as it is. Keep in mind that just because they are bright doesn't necessarily mean they are mature or ready for the social challenges that brings.
My mom was a kindergarten teacher and what she used to recommend to parents of bright children was instead of focusing on pushing them faster and deeper into core subjects (like math or reading), focus on giving them breadth - have them take music or art lessons, explore more science or culture, etc. So that's a thought.