My son who just turned 4 has been attending Montessori school in the mornings 5 days a week for a year. He is very distracted and slow to do his "work."
He has learned a lot in the language area - when he started, he only recognized a couple letters, but now he's reading short phonetic words. This isn't because he's chosen to work on language, but because the teacher assigns him language work each day (metal insets, tracing letters, and moveable alphabet at present). He drags these three tasks out to take the whole morning, and sometimes only finishes one or two. She's tried giving him more freedom to select activities, but he seems to lack interest in anything.
I'm shocked that he isn't more excited about all the fun tasks she has for them. She has tons of great activities. It's also a very small setting because it is in the teacher's home, so she only has about five kids - some older and one younger. The others seem so into it.
We are trying to decide what to do for next year and I'm finding myself wondering if Montessori is right for him. I'd love to hear thoughts from other Montessori parents.
My kids go to a Montessori school and they love it. They have multi-age classrooms so they are in the same class even though there is a two year gap between them. They have plenty of other activities in addition to doing work. There is a great deal of diversity in terms of the types of work kids can do and they have multiple stations. I think the variety keeps my kids really engaged even though one is a restless, active type and the other has no problems focusing.
Maybe the school is a bit too small for your little one to provide enough variety to engage him? Montessori is definitely not for everyone though. It may also just be a bad fit for your child but if i were in your place, I would investigate other schools before writing it off. Not sure if that is possible for you.
I don't really speak from experience here... my son loved the activities his preschool offers from day 1... But when I read your post, my first reaction was similar to the PP's - that perhaps the preschool is too small for your son to get the full benefits of Montessori. I don't think a low child-to-staff ratio is normally seen as a advantage in a Montessori setting - where a lot of importance is placed on peer learning and child autonomy. Of course, you may have a strong preference for a small group setting for other reasons, or this home-based preschool might be your only Montessori option - in which case, the idea of considering a larger Montessori preschool is irrelevent.
Another thought - might it be possible to give your son's teacher some suggestions of the type of work he might find interesting? What does he like doing at home? Ultimately, I think it's the responsibility of the teacher to find work that your son finds interesting and chooses freely. IMO working on teacher-assigned work every day pretty much defeats the purpose of Montessori. So I would push her to keep trying different activities with him and not be shy about giving her specific suggestions.
Oh, and one final though about the restlessness - maybe a certain amount of restlessness is just something your son needs to work through and that he might benefit from be given a little more space/freedom in the classrom to do this (well, as long as he isn't disrupting other children, of course). I recently spent a morning observing my 3 year-old son's classroom, and there were quite a few times when I saw a child wandering rather aimlessly around the room - my first thought was along the lines of "I really think one of the staff need to suggest something for this child to do" but each time, after a little while, the restless child chose some work, sat down and started concentrating. Just a thought.
Good luck and I hope whatever you decide to do works out for the best.
My daughter was quick to do all the work when entering montessori. My son, on the other hand, had to learn on his terms. Moving him from one activity to another was hard for the teachers, and they had to change their approach with him, more so than other kids. He LOVED the housekeeping lessons, and still does.
They found ways to move him by experimenting.... for example, one teacher always had to get him to agree that "in 5 minutes, we will move to another activity, ok?" He would readily agree to it since he wanted to continue his "play" and then 5 minutes later, she would remind him that he agreed to it, and he would oblige.
Maybe they just need to change their approach with him. He may require learning on his own terms just as well. Not a bad thing, just different.
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