Montessori in the post preschool years? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 5 Old 02-03-2005, 10:39 PM - Thread Starter
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What does it look like? Are the classrooms still mixed age? Do the children still largely self-direct or is there more guided learning? Is there any emphasis on foreign language (or is that school specific)?

Ds won't be going to preschool at all (he's just no interested), but I'm starting to look for elementary options for when he goes. I think Montessori would be a great fit for the pre-K him, but would like to understand more about it in the later years.

Thanks for any input.
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#2 of 5 Old 02-05-2005, 04:12 PM
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Well, each school is a little different, but generally...

The classrooms have lots of natural light, low shelves for easy access to the learning materials. There may be desks or tables, but most of the work is done on the floor on a tray or mat.

Classes are multi-age, older students help younger ones. Learning is both self-directed and guided. The environment is designed to facilitate free movement and choice of activity, but the teacher gives the lessons, monitors the progress of the students and ensures that each one is being exposed to all the lessons.

The foreign language thing is somewhat school specific. Sometimes it just depends on what resources are available...funds to pay a foreign language teacher or a parent willing to volunteer.

Go observe a classroom...that's the best way to decide. Montessori has been great for this family!
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#3 of 5 Old 02-07-2005, 03:56 AM
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I am an AMI trained Montessori teacher with both primary (preschool) and elementary training. I taught elementary for many years, and after a few more years at the primary level at my new school, will teach elementary again.

After looking around at various educational models for many years I came to Montessori as the answer to what I had been looking for all along.

The classes are mixed ages, either 6 - 9 year old and 9 - 12 year old classes or a 6 - 12 year old class. I have taught both 6 - 12 year olds (five years) and a 9 - 12 year old class. I must say that I preferred the 6 - 12 year old class, though it was a lot of work to keep up with such a wide range of ages. The plus side, though, was that the children were so *good* for each other. Twelve year olds are so wonderful when they have the responsibility of being role models for 6 year olds every day!

I personally believe that the curriculum can't be beat. So many stories for every subject - math, geometry, language, zoology, botany, etc. The children love to hear the history (the stories) of math and of the mathematicians. The curriculum is so intertwined. The children work in small groups and the teacher rarely presents to more than 3 - 5 children at a time (at least in AMI schools). This allows for the teacher to gauge the individual reactions of each student in the presentation to see if they understand and are interested.

There is so much movement and activity, especially for the youngest children. Even the grammar work is active. For the preposition, for example, the children first get an oral presentation. The teacher will gather 3 - 5 children who are ready for the presentation (usually 6 year olds who have had some previous work with other parts of speech). She might say, "Julie, stand behind your chair." "Dan, stand next to your chair." "Sally, stand in front of your chair." "Max, stand under your chair." (usually a pause followed by a big smile while the child picks up the chair and holds it above their head). Then there will be a discussion about how everyone did the same action (stand) with the same object (chair). What was different was everyone's position in relation to the chair. That is what a preposition is, a word that tells you a relationship or position.

The oral introduction continues with more examples, the children getting a turn to give the "commands" with prepositions.

There are grammar "command" cards, which are activity cards that emphasize different parts of speech. Some are just activities for the children to do, others are science "experiments" emphasizing a part of speech. The children *love* this work. Imagine, loving grammar!

History is presented not as a list of facts, but as a study of how humans meet their needs through time and place. Again, there is a lot of activity and stories. The children are encouraged to do handwork related to their studies. These things are offered, not forced.

One year I had a "girly" girl in my class. I was telling some stories about ancient Egypt and she wasn't, at first, very interested. Since I knew her (when you keep the same children for several years you get to know them. Also, when this happens you have only a few "new" students - usually six year olds - in your class each year. Easier to get to know them if their aren't that many new ones) I thought of a way to get her interested. I told her about the Egyptians interest in makeup and clothing. Well, that did it. She loved ancient Egypt and wrote a very nice report (she was six years old) about makeup and clothing in ancient Egypt. Very cool! Another child was interested in the jewelry in ancient Egypt and organized a craft activity for the entire class. He brought in pottery clay and a tiny kiln that he had borrowed from his grandfather. Each child got to make a scarab amulet, fire it, glaze it, and fire it again. He was just seven years old, yet he got to direct small groups of children who wanted this presentation (all of the children did!) including children much older than himself. What an affirming experience for him!

There is also a lot of "going out" which is different from a field trip. A going out is specific to the interests of a particular child or group of children. For example, there were three children doing reports about how newspapers are put together (again, based on their interest, not an assignment) and they organized a "going out" to visit the local press. They called the press to set up an appointment, called a driver from our list of drivers (moms and dads who have been "oriented" to know how to do these trips) and went to visit the press.

The children are given "presentations" on the details of this type of thing; how to use the phone, how to make an appointment, how to call for a ride, how to get the permission slips in order, how to take notes and prepare questions, etc.

I could go on and on. I will relate that I had two children transfer from traditional schools at about third grade (two different years). Both children, in conversation, told me that math was their worst subject and that they didn't like it.

Each of them, by the end of one year in my Montessori class, told me that they loved math and wanted to be a mathematician when they grew up. Two of them! The math cannot be beat - it is just wonderful. The geometry, too.

Well, I'll stop now. Let me know if you want more info.

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#4 of 5 Old 03-02-2005, 01:19 PM
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ellen--just wanted to say that your post was really interesting to me! my son is in a montessori primary program now and will more than likely stay there for K, but we're trying to figure out what to do for early elementary.
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#5 of 5 Old 03-02-2005, 03:28 PM
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My son went to pre-school Montessori last year and is now attending Kind. at the same school. He loves it. The classrooms differ from school to school. But he is in a class with just kind. students. Next year he moves to a mixed age group. I really like the Montessori method because it is so hands on. The classes are small. Some of the teachers he had in preschool also teach in kind. I can't say enough about it. He's really doing well. Within the last few months he has started writing and reading. We are so happy and hope to keep him at the school for a long time.
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