I feel like I had a pretty good grasp on Montessori a couple of years ago, but now ds is in his 2nd year of lower el. at a public M, and I feel like I need a refresher. I understand that this Montessori is not "authentic" and that there are many compromises with the public school system. But here's a smidge of what's going on:
We have started the evaluation process through school and a private assessor to figure out his learning style and needs. He turned 7 at the end of September. He is very intelligent, and he may also have ADHD. He also receives Occupational Therapy for fine motor, gross motor coordination, and sensory processing difficulites. He reads well above age/grade level, and I belive his knowledge is well-above also. I think his math skills could be conceptually strong, but they emphasize rote memorization to move forward, so he kind of stagnates where he is.
His 1st grade teacher turned in her resignation at the beginning of the year last year but worked through the entire year - although she'd checked out in September. She was awful and had no interest in teaching Montessori. He has a new teacher, who is well-intended and seems M. minded, but she *just* received her M training and certification over the summer.
I have asked, and will ask again as we hold his MDT/IEP meeting, that some of the skills be assessed orally, rather than written. She complains about work completion and distraction with him - saying that he's going to start falling behind, and I think relieving some of the fine motor demand (not all, obviously) would be helpful to him and her. She is reluctant to deviate from "the progression" and how she was taught.
Give ds's fine motor difficulties - writing is unmotivating and hard for him. He will become distracted and be incredibly slow during these activities. Knowing that Montessori originally developed her teaching for students with disabilities, I have to think that she had common sense enough to modify her "assessment" of children's knowledge to meet their needs. Wasn't she all about observation to determine a student's abilities and interests?
Also, in terms of lower el. progression, particularly in Math, my understanding is that the students explore concrete to abstract of *all* opperations simultaneously. Is the Addition then Subtraction then Multiplication then Division progression just my district's "compromise" to keep Montessori kids and traditional ed. kids on the same level?
Help me understand better, so that I can have a clear perspective when I talk to her. If I'm totally off-base, then I need to know that too, so that I don't ask for un-Montessori things in a Montessori program. TIA
Rose, I can relate with you on so much!! As you know, my kids attend a public Montessori school (charter), as well. There are so many things that I love about our school. They truly do focus on peace education, cultural subjects, and the Montessori *is* there, but there is a lot of public school rearing it's ugly head this year (oldest DD is in 2nd, middle child is in 1st - in the same class). We have an amazing, fantastic, peaceful, mindful, considerate, polite, AWESOME teacher this year (so many parents this year in the class are overwhelmed with how much we adore this man!) and we are all kind of chuckling in disbelief at how this group of 20 kids (ok, at least 18 of them ;) ) are such hard workers, polite, mild mannered, focused, driven children!! Seriously, this has been our most amazing year at the school yet.
HOWEVER.....my kids do have a spelling workbook, accelerated math printouts (that they do for homework and in the classroom), and have a "treasure box" of rewards (hello extrinsic, un-Montessori-ness!). This is also the first year that they do "group snack" at a certain time vs. sauntering up to the snack table when THEY get hungry. I don't like it, but because I love and adore this teacher so much, I totally have full faith in him and some of these horrible public school practices. I do feel that they have had a great foundation since the age of 3 (in private M) using Montessori materials and they still have access to all of the same tools and materials. PLUS, they get individual and group lessons using M materials, so when they are looking at a worksheet they can use those tools to help them. I literally have a laminated hundred board control chart sitting on my DD's desk for doing math homework. And I get out the beads all the time to give her a reference point for a lot of questions.
Sorry...I'm rambling on. I would definitely ask the teacher if they could "follow the child"....meaning how can he fall behind in a Montessori classroom if he is left to work at his own pace? Of course, within reason. I think a 7 year old should be pretty proficient in basic reading and being able to identify most sight words and do basic math, etc. However, there is a child in my DD's 6-9 class who I believe is technically a 3rd grader and is working in the same spelling book as my first grader. Will she go off to college not knowing how to read or write? Probably not. Does she have special needs? Maybe? Will she know that I'm, can't, and isn't are called contractions? Who knows? Will she be a well rounded person because she attended this school? Hopefully. :) I am not sure at what point in Montessori classrooms that the works become more abstract. I actually thought that didn't come until 9-12, honestly. Maybe I need to brush up on that. LOL! As for addition, subtraction, multiplication, division....that sort of seems where our school is, too. However, they were doing some sort of snake/exchange game that looked like this:
(5+8) + (9+2) + (7+6) + (6+9) =
or something to that effect. While I sat and watched this lesson, I was blown away because I saw a lot of things going on here - addition, multiplication, subtraction, ALGEBRA! Whoa.
Do you ever get a chance to just hang out in the classroom? I go in once a week from 9-12 and I start to really see how the classroom functions. Some of the things that I'm all up in arms over, really isn't that bad....or at least I have a better understanding of WHY it is happening.
Tell that teacher to: FOLLOW THE CHILD!!!!
p.s. At the beginning of the year my incoming 2nd grader was assessed at a 1.3 grade level (so, I assume that means in the first week of 2nd grade she was actually 3 months further along than expected) and I laughed when the teacher showed me the assessment. DD didn't even try addition of thousands (i.e. 4893 + 9038) which I know she knows and she knows she knows, but the teacher thinks she doesn't. She had static and dynamic addition down PAT in kinder, yet on the "test" she didn't even attempt to do it. ::sigh::
Hopefully in all that rambling you took something away from our similar circumstances! LOL! Hang in there, friend....
I'm going to make this a quick post, but I'll try to respond more later. I'm SO glad you have a great teacher, overall, BCFD. I'm sorry there is more of the "public school" rearing its head than you would like, though. I have become pretty numb to most of it - otherwise I would drive myself crazy. I want to like our teacher, and I started off the year doing so very much. Stark contrast to last year's teacher. I think she's inexperienced in Montessori though, and ds is not the easiest kid to start with. LOL
That sounds like an awesome math lesson you observed! I don't know of ds doing any of that at this school. And as far as adding multi-digit numbers, he hasn't had much introduction to that, either (except for a brief "abstract-only" intro to it last year. I'm so irritated - he was ready for all of that long ago...but there's the "progression" at this school. Who knows what it looks like, but they adhere to it strongly. I really think they don't want the kids moving ahead of traditional peers on these skills.
Individual lessons!!!!! OMG - I almost forgot about those! I hear a lot about small group lessons, but I never hear about individual lessons. I need to ask about that - that could go a long way toward helping.
My real goal, at this time, is to homeschool if I can figure out what to do with him while I work. But as long as that's not a totally viable option, I'm just going to have to make the most of this specific experience. Grrrr....
So follow the child and individual lessons. Good tips!
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