How do you explain the difference between Montessori and non-Montessori to your Montessori child? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 7 Old 09-09-2012, 11:06 AM - Thread Starter
 
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In a bit of a variation on the "how do you describe Montessori?" thread, I'm wondering how other Montessori parents explain the differences between Montessori and non-Montessori preschools/schools to their children.

This question came up for me last week, when my 3 1/2 year old son noticed the sign outside his preschool and asked me what "Montessori" meant. This caught me little off-guard, but I explained that Montessori preschools and schools are named after a lady named Maria Montessori who had a lot of really good ideas about the things kids like to do and the ways they learn things and that his preschool follows these ideas. And I gave him a few concrete examples of typical Montessori activities he enjoys. He thought about this answer a little and then asked another question, "but what about other schools and preschools, the ones that aren't Montessori? What do kids do there?" I admit this one had me completely stumped. I ended up telling him something along the lines of it being a hard question to answer as non-Montessori preschools aren't all the same - in some the kids might play with dolls and dress ups most of the day, in some they might spend a nearly all of their time outside, in others they might do a lot of group activities where all the kids listen to the teacher at the same time. It felt like I was fudging it though and I would have loved to give him a better answer.

My husband and I chose Montessori because we think it's a great approach and I'd love to be able to communicate some of our reasons with my son. But I'm also very wary that I may be sending the message that non-Montessori schools are inferior... which is something I don't want to do. So it feels like treading quite a fine line.

Would love to hear any thoughts or experience you might have.

Thanks,
Caitlinn
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#2 of 7 Old 09-11-2012, 11:34 AM
 
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Bumping up for more attention.  Interesting question. 




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#3 of 7 Old 09-13-2012, 11:15 AM
 
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Wow...this is an awesome question.  I might type here, think about it over night, and reply more tomorrow. :-)

 

I guess my first instinct is to ask what the problem is with the answer you gave us?!  "There are a lot of different schools.  They don't all do the same things.  Some are Montessori and have all the cool, fun things in the classroom you have with older and younger students.  Others have students all the same age.  Some have a lot more toys like you have back home.  Some sit and listen to the teacher all morning.  So there are many different schools that do many different things."

 

Follow it up with a reflective question:

"What do you like best about your school?"

 

Just my gut instinct.

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#4 of 7 Old 09-14-2012, 01:42 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by MattBronsil View Post

Wow...this is an awesome question.  I might type here, think about it over night, and reply more tomorrow. :-)

 

I guess my first instinct is to ask what the problem is with the answer you gave us?!  "There are a lot of different schools.  They don't all do the same things.  Some are Montessori and have all the cool, fun things in the classroom you have with older and younger students.  Others have students all the same age.  Some have a lot more toys like you have back home.  Some sit and listen to the teacher all morning.  So there are many different schools that do many different things."

 

Follow it up with a reflective question:

"What do you like best about your school?"

 

Just my gut instinct.

 

Thanks so much for your reply! My son is a huge question asker. Even long before he could properly formulate questions, he would constantly point at things he was interested in and look up inquisatively waiting for a response. I admit there are times when it gets a little draining but I really wouldn't change it for the world. He asks some wonderful questions and I really treasure the insight they give into how his young mind is trying (and very often succeeding!) to make sense of the world. I often find it a challenge to answer my son's questions in a way that is age-appropriate and also satisfies his curiousity - but for the most part, I enjoy this challenge a lot.

I also agree, after a bit of reflection, that my answer to my son's second question was a reasonable one. I think I have a tendency to forget that he's 3 1/2 and doesn't need a philosophical answer. Actually, I'm sure he gets a lot more out of a few concrete examples than any ideological comparison I could come up with. So in hindsight, I'm pretty glad I didn't manage to come up with a "smarter", more comprehensive answer. Btw I really liked your follow up question. A nice reminder for me too - quite often, I get so caught up answering questions my son's questions that I don't get around to asking him any follow-up questions, missing out on the great opportunity that provides.

The conversation with my son really got me thinking more generally about how people talk about Montessori with their children. In particular, I've been wondering whether it's a good idea to sing the praises of Montessori education to your children, or to other people in their presence? Or is it better to focus on more factual experiences and differences, and try not to attach too many of your own values when these sort of questions come up?

After a little reflection, I'm leaning toward the second option, particularly for younger children. Provide them with the information they ask for in as unbiased a way as you can manage and give them a chance to form their own opinions about it. Perhaps once kids are a bit older and have more developed skills in reasoning, then a discussion about educational values becomes appropriate... but that is as yet uncharted territory for me.

My son has a lot of family/neighbourhood friends who don't go to Montessori, so I imagine more questions about Montessori and non-Montessori schools will come up as my son gets older and notices more differences between himself and his friends. Of course, it might not be a big deal at all... but still feeling rather new to the game, I'd love to read any thoughts or opinions anyone here might have to offer.

Cheers, Caitlinn

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#5 of 7 Old 09-18-2012, 12:40 PM
 
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Originally Posted by linn7799 View Post


The conversation with my son really got me thinking more generally about how people talk about Montessori with their children. In particular, I've been wondering whether it's a good idea to sing the praises of Montessori education to your children, or to other people in their presence? Or is it better to focus on more factual experiences and differences, and try not to attach too many of your own values when these sort of questions come up?

After a little reflection, I'm leaning toward the second option, particularly for younger children. Provide them with the information they ask for in as unbiased a way as you can manage and give them a chance to form their own opinions about it. Perhaps once kids are a bit older and have more developed skills in reasoning, then a discussion about educational values becomes appropriate... but that is as yet uncharted territory for me.

My son has a lot of family/neighbourhood friends who don't go to Montessori, so I imagine more questions about Montessori and non-Montessori schools will come up as my son gets older and notices more differences between himself and his friends. Of course, it might not be a big deal at all... but still feeling rather new to the game, I'd love to read any thoughts or opinions anyone here might have to offer.

Cheers, Caitlinn

 

I treated my DD's question about Montessori vs other school's the same way I handled her questions about different religions (we are Jewish, but I was raised Christian and my parents are Christian). And this came up a lot, since they are building a brand new elementary school directly outside our neighborhood. I tell her that there are many different types of schools; that there is not one type of school for everyone, because people all learn in different ways. She goes to a school that allows her to learn with kids that are both older and younger than her, and to learn things at her own speed with hands on materials. Some children learn better at schools with a teacher standing in front of a classroom teaching, while students sit at a desk, some kids learn best if they are taught at home by their parents, and other kids go to schools that focus on a specific area, such as a foreign language, STEM, or performing arts.

 

I happen to love the way DD's Montessori environment shows up when she pretends to play 'school'. Her version of pretend play school has her rolling out rugs, giving a lesson, and then leaving the 'student' (often me!) to complete her work independently. joy.gif


 

I am also a lover of books reading.gif, treehugger treehugger.gif, and occasional soapbox stander! soapbox.gif

 

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#6 of 7 Old 09-19-2012, 07:41 PM
 
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I love the way Montessori described normal school.  In talking about the teacher with the scientific spirit she writes,

 

"The situation [of a insect expert asked to observe butterflies pinned to a board] would be very much the same if we should place a teacher who, according to our conception of the term, is scientifically prepared, in one of the public schools where the children are repressed in the spontaneous expression of their personality till they are almost like dead beings.  In such a school the children, like butterflies mounted on pins, are fastened each to his place, the desk, spreading the useless wings of barren and meaningless knowledge which they have acquired."

 

That might be too much for a preschooler to fully grasp, but I'd try to say something like that.

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#7 of 7 Old 09-25-2012, 12:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for your replies. smile.gif

 

nyssaneala - I think you mae a great point - that this is very similar to so many other situations where we have to explain differences to our children. Religion was a great example. I'm sure very similar questions comes up for homeschooling parents, particularly when their kids socialize with kids who go to school (and I guess vice-versa too - the schooled kids no doubt ask their parents questions about the homeschoolers too)

 

JoeMuel - Interesting quote! It made me chuckle. Yeah, not so suitable for a preschooler... my son is already come home one day and reported "Mamma, I told X that ketchup has sugar in it, but he didn't believe me!" I can only imagine the reactions he might get if he tried to explain to his non-Montessori friends that they were mounted butterflies. wink1.gif

Not saying that I like everything about standard schooling where we live (Sweden) but I can thankfully say that it bears very little resemblance to the public schooling Montessori found herself rebelling against in the early 20th centruy.

 

 

Caitlinn

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