Ds is 7, in year 2 of a public school M. To anyone who has been around here for a few years, it may come as no surprise that we are wrapping up the evaluation process. He is testing out as "twice exceptional" - gifted with either ADHD or Asperger's Syndrome (more likely PDD-NOS, if on the autism spectrum).
Now, this Montessori is a real compromise for us - free but with major limitations to the Montessori aspects. I still feel it's better than traditional - he gets more freedom of movement, limited testing or homework, hands-on learning (although I don't see it being really "rich" learning experiences, but that's not really due to the program).
His IEP meeting is tomorrow. I'm thinking of accommodations that we can put on it. Some of them are things that I think should be in a Montessori classroom that aren't necessarily present. I've come up with: reducing the amount of written work, unless the focus is specifically writing; allow to work in a quiet, alternate setting - because the open classroom concept and the kids' incessant use of the electric pencil sharpener create a noisy/distracting environment; assessing his knowledge through alternate means, if necessary - like allowing him verbal responses or just laying the works out for check, rather than basing it on the "quality" of his written production.
Anyone else have ideas of things that should already be in a Montessori classroom that could help accommodate the ADHD traits?
Hi Rose!! I was just reading over your post and while I don't have anything specific for you to add, a lot of the things you mention already happen at our public Montessori (charter) school. I thought I could add a few things that I have observed in our own school that might help you.
My 7 year old DD has pretty severe anxiety issues which we are conquering with PCIT (parent/child interaction therapy) and a great social group run by the PCIT director. DD absolutely breaks down regarding spelling homework....to the point where she will cry for hours and the severe anxiety (drama?) kicks into high gear. Sometimes to the point of where I cry for her. My DW said that we are going to start logging homework as parent hours because it takes so long!!! The teacher actually said we could do that! LOL! I spend so much time in the classroom, so it's not like we need the extra hours. DW was making a point. And it's not like the spelling workbook (don't get me started...I freakin' HATE that they even use this thing!) is horribly time consuming....it's her anxiety that stops her dead in her tracks. She can do the work, no problem. It's 4 pages and the last 2 pages are pretty intense for a 7 year old (for *MY* anxiety riddled 7 year old anyway). We don't have an IEP, but we did start a RTI tier 1 on her last year in 1st grade. We haven't had any meetings to update it and honestly I'm not sure the RTI has any meaning at this point what-so-ever.
Sorry for rambling.....
Here are the things that her teacher has allowed us to modify:
1. She has her own "personal space" which is really just a desk off by itself so she can work without distraction. I asked her if she liked that and she said she did. She obviously has rug jobs, as well, but she really likes her "bubble space". We didn't ask for this. Her teacher observed during the normalization period that she needed a protected space. He's awesome like that. ;)
2. The teacher said that I could modify the spelling, so instead of the workbook, I just take the words from the workbook and do a word search (she loves word searches!), a page where she traces the word and then writes it again ONE TIME next to it (not 17 like this workbook makes her do it!), and draw a line from a sentence to fill in the blank (drawing a line instead of writing the word 20+ times). Then we sit down and spell the words using our moveable alphabet. I also write the words (usually 12 or 13) on an index card for her to carry around with her during the week to peak at. She sometimes asks me to tape it to the back of the headrest in the car. And lastly, I let her quiz ME....not vice versa. She was VERY happy last night that she finished her entire homework packet (spelling and math) so quickly. I told her that maybe she could do at least the first page in the workbook, but her teacher said if it's stressing her out, don't push it. He's so COOL like that!
3. She doesn't have to take the spelling test on Friday in her group. He said we could just do it at home. She has a total meltdown when she is called out into the common area to take her "test" (that word doesn't even belong in lower elementary as far as I'm concerned!) I told her that she should still participate with her group, but only Mommy would see it (I'm one of the spelling test parents every Friday). She nails it every week, but taking that pressure off of her in a group setting has really helped her. She will start crying during the Friday test in her group because she is so afraid of spelling a word wrong. She is a total perfectionist and if she can't do it right the first time she totally gives up. We are working on this with her. ::sigh:::
I've also noticed that when the kids do a job, they simply do it, self correct, or have a friend help them to correct it, and then they make a check mark on their workplan. They don't have the teacher come over every single time they finish a job and I have seen that the kids are VERY honest about this (and the teachers do notice what each kid is working on, so they can't be dishonest! LOL!) Right before lunch when they go to circle, the kids and the teacher all sing a few songs (some are hilarious!) to keep them engaged while he checks all the workplans off. It is a great system that he has.
My frustration is that they do a lot of non Montessori shelf jobs - math cards, skyscraper (which is a grammar box, I think - prefix, root, suffix), accelerated reader and accelerated math on the computer, rosetta stone on the computer, and what seems like an awful lot of written work vs. shelf jobs that don't require writing. Maybe lower elementary is where they start to do more writing. I don't even see any sensorial works in the 1/2/3 classroom (I wouldn't expect to see number rods or a pink tower, so I guess this is pretty normal.)
Yesterday I noticed a pretty cool "job" though. DD had to look a word up in the dictionary (delicatessen) and then write how many syllables it has and then write it showing the "dashes". She keeps her booklet in her desk and that is a Monday job. She did it in less than 2 minutes. She told me that she got all her jobs done yesterday and got to do the USA Montessori puzzle. We have one at home and pulled it out over the break, so she was excited to do it at school, too. She is in a very sensitive period right now for geography!
Anyway....sorry to ramble. I think it will be a perfect time for you to start asking for more a more Montessori-like atmosphere during the IEP meeting!!! I mean, afterall, you are sending him there because they call the school a MONTESSORI school....so dig in, Mama!!! Keep me posted on what they say!!!
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