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#1 of 12 Old 09-24-2012, 08:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We've just moved from fulltime daycare to Montessori. The transition went well and our child seems to be doing well and I love much about the school and think it is a good fit but I am having hard time adjusting. I can deal with car line, rarely seeing the teachers or classroom and having no clue who most of her classmates are but am having a hard time with not getting any information from the teacher. Now I am not talking child-specific, but general information about the class. Emails will get answered, and there are parent education and teacher conferences but I feel like we should get regular updates. Not necessarily a whole rundown of the week but a few tidbits, and literally in a month we have received zero. This is a long-established well regarded accredited Montessori. Personally I am dumbfounded that apparently so many people have accepted this that this is the standard practice. Talking to other new parents they feel the same way. I don't see any benefit to it being this way except saving the teachers a few minutes but I don't think it is much to ask. All I want is to have some idea of what goes on in the day, and to be able to talk about it, and that this hampers the supposed parent-teacher partnership because little information comes from the 3yo. Oddly, the elementary teachers apparently do send regular info while the preschool ones do not. Sorry for the rambling, I'm still trying to figure out what's normal in the school and how to address the concern and change it if possible. Anyone else find this odd and/or have experience with a similar situation? Thanks for listening.
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#2 of 12 Old 09-25-2012, 07:43 AM
 
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This is the same at our school. In the toddler room, there aren't even conferences. In the 3-6 rooms, there are two conferences a year (and you can set up an observation). Of course, you can call and speak with the teacher as much as you like (they are there for one hour after school hours) - if that means you want to call every week, you can call every week, and ours is happy to speak with me as often as I'd like, but as a norm, you do not hear anything from then unless something is wrong or during scheduled conferences.

 

It's a bit annoying if you're used to receiving daily or weekly written updates, as many day cares provide, but it is what it is. I've gotten used to it now, but I still like to check in at least once a month to know what is going on (not even because I'm concerned that something is the matter but really because I'm just nosy and like to know what my child is up to winky.gif).

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#3 of 12 Old 09-25-2012, 08:13 AM
 
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I own a Montessori school, and it is not standardized as this is not something Dr. Montessori addressed in her writings. What we do is a daily sheet that goes home listing some of the works he or she chose that day, a bi-monthly Family night so parents can come into the school to see what their child has been working on with teacher's on hand, parent education nights monthly, quarterly progress reports and at least one family/guide conference the day before Thanksgiving. I will admit, it does get annoying because we often find daily sheets crumbled in the bottom of bookbags not even ever looked at, and probably 25% or less attendance at family nights, and far less at education nights. Family/Guide conferences are mandatory, so obviously these are nearly 100% attendance. I would see why a school would find it a waste of their time to put so much effort in the parent communication; however, we do it because some parents really love it. We also have classroom Facebook pages and lots of email communication, as well as a monthly newsletter and calendar.

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#4 of 12 Old 09-25-2012, 10:49 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tammychabria View Post

I own a Montessori school, and it is not standardized as this is not something Dr. Montessori addressed in her writings. What we do is a daily sheet that goes home listing some of the works he or she chose that day, a bi-monthly Family night so parents can come into the school to see what their child has been working on with teacher's on hand, parent education nights monthly, quarterly progress reports and at least one family/guide conference the day before Thanksgiving. I will admit, it does get annoying because we often find daily sheets crumbled in the bottom of bookbags not even ever looked at, and probably 25% or less attendance at family nights, and far less at education nights. Family/Guide conferences are mandatory, so obviously these are nearly 100% attendance. I would see why a school would find it a waste of their time to put so much effort in the parent communication; however, we do it because some parents really love it. We also have classroom Facebook pages and lots of email communication, as well as a monthly newsletter and calendar.


I'm so glad you posted this. I should have added that our school also has a Facebook page, the teacher sends out a monthly newsletter, and we have parent nights all throughout October to work hands on with the material our kids are using. Alas, we do not get the daily sheet: I would KILL for that, lol, because my 3 1/2 DS never tells me anything! I hate hearing that some parents never even look at theirs.

 

Edited to add that on Fridays, we also get a folder containing any work for the week that could be sent home (of course, there would be no evidence of manipulative work, but if there is any art work, or punched pin or insert shapes, etc., I do get to see those!).

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#5 of 12 Old 09-25-2012, 11:51 AM
 
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I am happy with the communication with my son's Montessori preschool - but I do admit that most of it is very informal. I collect my son while the kids the playing outside and I invariably chat for at least a few minutes with one or more of the staff on duty. They will invariably tell me 1-2 things my son did that morning and if they did anything out of the ordinary (outdoor work, visitors, a special project, something special for lunch, etc.)... Usually this is more than enough to start a conversation about with my 3 1/3 year old son about his day.

 

There is a bit of email contact but it is generally of a very practical nature (upcoming events, excursions, clothing reminders, etc.) Parent teacher conferences are twice a year and the staff are also happy to schedule meetings with parents at other times, if the parents feel there is something they would like to discuss.

 

Cheers, Caitlinn

 

ETA: the preschool also has parent drop-in events (alternating morning/afternoon) 4-5 times a year, where the parents are invited in to the preschool classroom for tea/coffee and a light snack and the children can show their parents some of the things they enjoy working on. And they have parent meetings at least twice a year too.

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#6 of 12 Old 09-25-2012, 02:06 PM
 
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I appreciate this post.  I would like add to this discussion.  Many schools do things many different ways.  Many schools call themselves Montessori schools, when many are not recognized by AMI or AMS.  'Montessori' can mean many different things depending on the school.   A website like this one can make getting good advice a little harder because of the variety of interpretations of what is "normal". 

 

Many parents were not Montessori children and can only pull from their traditional schooling as a reference for how things should be done at their child's school.  Those comparisions can rightly lead to feelings of anxiousness or discomfort.  This is most likely because of a lack of understanding of the Montessori method.   This is also pretty normal.  Many parents enroll their child in a Montessori school without knowing very much about it.   I was one of those parents.

 

I am currently a classroom volunteer at an AMI school.  I have observed that the number of parents who have issues or complaints, specifically about communication, is enormous. The number of parents who take the time to voice their concerns or ideas or suggestions or solutions directly to their child's teacher is very low.

 

You may be surprised at how very eager teachers are to hear from parents and would welcome their observations, suggestions or input. My first bit of advice is to start with your child's teacher. Go to the teacher as soon as you feel any sort of concern arise.

 

My second bit of advice is to do as much reading as you can on the method/philosophy to help yourself understand why the level of communication might be different from your experience and/or expectations.  It will help to ease your mind.  

 

I have done a great deal of reading on the method/philosophy and as a result am more comfortable than most about the level of FORMAL communication I receive from teachers regarding my children (which I might add is two observations per school year, and casual banter at drop-off/pick-up). Because of my understanding of the method, I take an active role in immediately expressing my observations, concerns, and suggestions to the teachers. I do this in a very respectful way. I see them as a partner in the raising of my child. The teachers have been very warm and responsive. They make time for me when I request it and have always addressed my concerns and answered my questions. Because I was not a Montessori child, I believe it is my work to learn as much as a I can because it is so different from my own experiences. Like you, I want to know what my child is learning, how they are learning it, how to ask questions about the materials, and about their progress. This doesn't come naturally. I have only been able to do this through the investment of my own time.

 

Lastly, I might offer that because there are no backpacks full of test scores or worksheets, Montessori does require a leap of faith, both in the materials and in your child as compared to traditional school.  As a Montessori parent, you have to have faith that you carefully selected the school, and you have to have faith in the effectiveness of the traditional Montessori materials.  If you're confident in the school and in the materials, chances are high that your child will thrive.

 

As for daily updates, you should be able to observe in your child new information, questioning, abilities, etc that would reflect what is happening at school.  Your child is your daily update, your reinforcement that you've made the right decision to choose a Montessori education. The "update"  comes in a different form than maybe you are expecting.    For example, I can see my three year old tracing letters everywhere.  It's a sign to me that he is in an absorbent period for language.  It also tells me that he is being exposed to language materials, like the sandpaper letters, at school.  He is asking me to help in the kitchen, asks to do things for himself.   He is pouring from a pitcher, sweeping, and washing his hands in a methodical way. This shows me that he is being given lessons in practical life.  I was able to observe this on my own, without any update. My 5 year old is reading and writing.  She is singing songs about countries in Europe, she is practicing writing numbers.  She is talking about loving the stamp game, the snake game, and the long 9 chain.  These behaviors are my clue that the matierals and her experiences in the classroom are effective.  Maybe you've observed some of these kinds of things in your own child?

 

Another parent may not know what their child is talking about when they reference a specific material or what they teach.  Another parent, hearing that the child has been learning "multiplication" might start quizzing their child on the times tables because that is how they learned multiplication.   I know more about how to communicate with my teacher and my child about school because I have invested a great deal of time to understand the materials, I have asked my teacher to show materials to me, and I have been provided opportunities to use the materials.  It is my familiarity with the method and materials that gives me an absolute faith that Montessori is a brilliant philosophy.  My children are the proof that it's working.  I'm OK now without regular updates from the school.

 

I wish you the very best in your Montessori journey.  Don't give up.  Reach out to your teacher. Have faith in your child.  I am very hopeful that you will receive the feedback and knowledge that you seek. 

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#7 of 12 Old 09-25-2012, 07:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for your thoughtful responses. It's not that I question the teaching methods or fit for our child. I guess I'm questioning my role in this, how I can be an effective partner in this with limited information, and why we shouldn't expect to share some of the joy. They acknowledge that much of what goes on will be a mystery but not why this is a good thing. If this is how 'real Montessori' is done, why? Is it that it's just not considered important for child development so they don't bother or that somehow sharing weekly highlights somehow subtracts from the value of the process?

I know I can ask these things but there is not a 'natural' time to bring it up and it has not seemed the right place to question established practice as a newbie but I do plan to discuss it. In the meantime I am collecting my thoughts and information but have not found anything online so far.

Also the frequency of parent-teacher meetings is fine. There are a few education nights per year. But I work full time and usually don't see the teachers at all, or the classroom, because we have car line and the teachers there at the end of the day, while lovely, can only tell me about the last few hours of the day which are not in the classroom though actually I think the after school program should give us highlights too!.
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#8 of 12 Old 09-27-2012, 03:56 PM
 
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My son just started a Montessori Preschool a month ago as well! Every day they fill out a sheet for each child, and send it home at the end of the week. It says when they went to the bathroom (and if it was pee or a BM), if they ate snacks, when and how long they napped or rested, if they ate none, some, most, or all of their lunches, then there is a space to write what works they used each day. Its very basic, I'm sure it only takes a minute for them to fill out, and I feel like I "know what's going on" that way:)

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#9 of 12 Old 09-28-2012, 12:33 PM
 
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At my daughter's Montessori preschool we also had little to no communication. Luckily at 3 & 4 my daughter would give me some tidbits about her day though I realize not all kids will. I was welcome to observe whenever I liked and occasionally peeked in if I was at the school for any reason. Luckily for me my cousin worked there and sent her kids so I felt very very comfortable with the school from the beginning. Also I had observed the class the year before to get a feeling of how it was run by the teachers. This helped me feel less bummed about having no idea what was going on in the classroom on a day by day basis. I do wish there had been some sort of sheet sent home. This year in Kindergarten my daughter brings home a work plan so I do get some idea of what she is doing. I wasn't aware that this new school would do that so I was quite excited when the first one came home:)

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#10 of 12 Old 10-02-2012, 07:57 AM
 
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I came to this board looking to see if anyone was feeling the way I was feeling, and Amia, I could have written your posts almost in their entirety. In fact, as I read them, I thought more and more that we might have kids at the same school. I'm going to PM you, because really--I think we might be at the same school. Small world.

 

In any case, I am relieved to see that I'm not alone. I'm also happy to see some of the responses, esp. yours, Montessoriyes, as what you are saying is what my gut was telling me. I have a feeling that we parents are sort of being trained to let our kids have their "children's house" experience without us, but I really do feel a bit disconnected. We have conferences this week, so I'm hoping this will help. My problem is that I am unsure how to balance trying to be involved and aware and play an active role in my child's education with trying really hard not to helicopter her or be annoying to the teachers. I'm trying to start by volunteering when they need things done for the classroom (laundry, etc.) in order to make myself useful, and I've gone to a couple of meetings at the school (thankfully, my schedule usually allows for that). I'm hoping that by being involved in these other ways, I'll start to feel more connected to the school.

 

I can't believe this thread was here. Exactly what I was looking for.

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#11 of 12 Old 10-02-2012, 10:54 AM
 
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Amia, I completely connected with your question "and why we shouldn't expect to share some of the joy?"

 

I'm always torn about this issue. When I've discussed it a few times with other Montessori parents, the contrasting viewpoint seems to be "don't you trust his teachers?" And I do! My desire to know what happens in the classroom has never really been about feeling like something bad was being kept secret from me or that I was being kept in the dark on purpose. It has always come from a place of just wanting to take joy in the activities my son is choosing of late and not knowing what those are.

 

You also asked "They acknowledge that much of what goes on will be a mystery but not why this is a good thing. If this is how 'real Montessori' is done, why? Is it that it's just not considered important for child development so they don't bother or that somehow sharing weekly highlights somehow subtracts from the value of the process?" At my son's school, the response to this has been purely logistical. Their typical 3-6 room (though my son happens to be in a smaller one that is the exception) has about 36 children, with one main teacher and two assistants. Their response is that it is simply not possible to complete communication sheets for all 36 children on a daily basis.

 

My son is in a smaller classroom (new this year) with only 3 year old children, one main teacher and one assistant, and only 15 children in total. I know from speaking to his main teacher the other day that at this point in the year she and the assistant teacher get together to create a written report for my son (and every student), which is then discussed with us at the time of our conference (which I believe start to take place in October and through November?).

 

For me, it may be that we started out at a traditional day care where we did receive daily updates. And actually, I don't really have any desire at this age to hear how often he used the potty, etc. In a perfect world, I would just love a little anecdotal note at the end of the week, even if it just read "still doing a lot of artwork and starting to work on letter sounds!", individualized for my child, but I cannot pretend to know whether that would be logistically possible or not (though it sounds like some school manage to accomplish this - perhaps they have less children?).

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#12 of 12 Old 10-28-2012, 11:11 PM
 
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As a member of the admin team at an AMI school, and a former parent, please allow me to address your concern.  As a parent, I recall being frustrated in not understanding how my child spent their day.  I would get five yarn necklaces and wonder, is this what I am paying for?  All the while I loved the school, teacher and parent community.  My son loved the environment as well.  Now that I am on the other end, I understand why daily or weekly status sheets are not feasible or realistic.  In elementary there are specific lessons, plans and routines due to the developmental phase of the child.  However, in primary, much of the day is spent in observation (by the teacher) and developing skills and experiences that are not easily jotted down.  And, in the time teachers have, it isn't feasible for 25 children because they all spend their day (each child) very differently.  The children don't have the language to convey what they are doing during the day at this age either, which makes it difficult.

 

Our school provides a parent education program to educate parents on the classroom environment and philosophy.  As another person posted, we all went to a tradition school and have no idea what is going on or why.  Perhaps you could suggest it to the admin.  In elementary we also have "first fridays" where parents come in on the first friday of the month to do lessons alongside the children.  Perhaps in the Spring when the children are more settled you could suggest it.  We don't have it for primary.

 

Lastly, my children are in 5th and 8th grade and the payback for the Montessori education wasn't in status sheets or worksheets (things I wanted back in primary) but in seeing them as the amazing learners that they are, in large part to their Montessori education.  If I could reiterate a previous post:

 

"Lastly, I might offer that because there are no backpacks full of test scores or worksheets, Montessori does require a leap of faith, both in the materials and in your child as compared to traditional school. As a Montessori parent, you have to have faith that you carefully selected the school, and you have to have faith in the effectiveness of the traditional Montessori materials. If you're confident in the school and in the materials, chances are high that your child will thrive.  Your child is your daily update, your reinforcement that you've made the right decision to choose a Montessori education. The "update" comes in a different form than maybe you are expecting. For example, I can see my three year old tracing letters everywhere. It's a sign to me that he is in an absorbent period for language."

 

As a former parent and current admin, this is great perspective and advice. 

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