The Pros and Cons of your Montessori Experience - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 18 Old 02-28-2006, 07:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am 75% sure I want to switch my DD from her current program to a Montessori school. I have certain reservations that I don't want to share just yet because I am looking for *your* unbiased Pros and Cons of your Montessori experience. Please share and help me make a good decision!
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#2 of 18 Old 02-28-2006, 08:13 PM
 
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Well, I haven't had children in montessori, but I attended one from 3-6 and was an assistant for several years. So take or leave my input if it's what you want or not that said:

Pros:
respect for children as individuals
allows children to work at their own pace at their own interests
works well for many different types of children
is a good prep. for real life
GREAT materials

cons:
In my experience reading and books were not stressed as much as I would have liked. I did some observation of lower and upper elem. in an AMI montessori and saw no encouragement of reading beyond research.

-Angela
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#3 of 18 Old 02-28-2006, 08:25 PM
 
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Hi goodcents -

DS 3.5 yo started Mont school this fall. It has been very positive all in all. here are my pros/cons:

pros:
individual needs/pace of the child is respected
very compatible with "positive discipline" style of GD
focused on tangible tasks - "practical life", etc. and not a lot of written work
not rewards based
materials are made of natural material - not a lot of plastic, etc.
respect for child is practiced
respect for others is taught
respect for the environment is taught
cultural diversity is celebrated and taught
I like the "write to read" style of teaching reading
I like mixed age classrooms - DS is with 2.5 yo to 5 yos.

cons:
too much emphasis on academics for preschool -- I like the "style" of teaching - but I think academics are stressed too much - even though it is the montessori style of academics. This comes out in the fact that the school is a 5 day a week program (I take DS 3 or 4 days - but pay for 5 - b/c I want him with me and not at school that much at his age). Also, teacher is continually suggesting that DS stay full day (he is half day right now) -- that seems like too much at this age too.

lack of parental involvement -- my school does not encourage parent involvement in the classroom in any pervasive way. You can come in and do a "special program" one day - but no real opportunity to volunteer on a regular day or just sit in on the class (I suppose I could if I really pushed the issue - but would be out of the norm)

individual work??? -- I still don't know what I think about "individual work". The kids all are supposed to do their work alone - and can work together only on ocassion and when given permission. I think I still see this as a slight negative.

TripMom . . . . . loving mom : to DS (7) and BBG (4.5)
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#4 of 18 Old 02-28-2006, 08:54 PM
 
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In the schools I've attended and my daughter has attended:

Positives:

*Treating each child as an individual with unique strengths
*High behavioral expectations generally lead to respectful, kind children
*Mixed-ages lets kids learn from and teach one another
*No artificially low expectations of academic ability (i.e. lots of kids can read at 3, if they wish to; it's considered normal and not gifted)
*No rushing academics or any other subject
*Alfie Kohn-style discipline
*Focuses on international diversity from early ages - learning about geography, flags, foods of the world.
*No time-outs
*materials are fun and really help make the abstract world concrete
*Materials are very adaptable to various learning styles (kinesthetic, auditory, visual, etc)
*Reading method blends phonemic awareness, phonics, and sight word recognition.
*Process-based art, no cheesy crafts
*Lots of opportunity to work/chat with other kids, important for my social kid.

Negatives:
*Somewhat artificial progression through scope and sequence is rigidly adhered to in some schools - i.e. some kids understand fractions before multiplication, despite the scope and sequence.
*Teachers vary widely - we've had teachers who obsessed over reading to the exclusion of other topics, others who were very uncreative and dull in lesson presentations.
*The whole fantasy vs. reality thing is sort of weird to me personally in rigid schools/teachers; and I do wish some teachers wouldn't get their panties in a bunch over fantasy play with the pink tower.
*Some teachers won't read fantasy books to children under age 5, at one school...uh, just say "this book is PRETEND"
*I wish there was more music time
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#5 of 18 Old 02-28-2006, 09:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for all of this fabulous input.

I have some reservations about the teachers being warm enough. I always have this reservations. We just moved, so we have been in two different daycares. Our last one in Brooklyn was awesome I don't think we realized how good we had it. They were just changing to a true Emilio Reggio approach when we left. Our current situation is devoid of personality and I don't think its meeting DD's intellectual demands.

I am little nervous about the "dogma" of montessori. There are elements I like, and elements I don't. I can't tell which way this particular teacher is though until we try it out. She is AMI certified is all that I know and that she has been teaching for 7 years.

I worry about the imaginative play a bit, but I engage my dd in alot of that at home. So she will still be exposed to it. I think the 5 day program is good for her, only because right now she is on a 3 day schedule at her current pre-school/daycare and after the long weekend she never wants to go to "school".

Any other suggestions/advice/recommend reading?
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#6 of 18 Old 02-28-2006, 09:49 PM
 
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Well, all philosophies have "dogma," even the plain ol' vanilla preschool (in the form of children can't read until age x, as if reading was this horrible chore instead of something fun...or putting kids in time-out...or praising/chastising a lot).

Alfie Kohn's books - while not Montessori - are frequently read by many Montessori teachers and recommended by catalogs because of the similarity in approaches. What may not look warm may be just a different style than you're used to...i.e. Montessori teachers don't fall all over themselves praising the child for everything they do - instead, they observe. Another book is The Montessori Controversy by John McChattin-Nichols (I think). You can probably get your library to interlibrary loan it.

I agree with you about the fantasy thing - we really haven't had any problems with it dampening her creative/fantasy life at home at all.

I think there are problems and great things about every educational philosophy, it's just finding one where you can overlook most of the stuff you don't like because the rest is so great...Reggio Emilia is an awesome, awesome philosophy though! I like what I've read of it quite a bit.
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#7 of 18 Old 02-28-2006, 10:37 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goodcents
I worry about the imaginative play a bit, but I engage my dd in alot of that at home. So she will still be exposed to it. I think the 5 day program is good for her, only because right now she is on a 3 day schedule at her current pre-school/daycare and after the long weekend she never wants to go to "school".

Any other suggestions/advice/recommend reading?
Hi - just wanted to weigh in on "imaginative play". I guess because M-school is focused on "work" - and doing the "work" correctly - the concern is that it might stifle imaginatory play? Just so you know -- DS does sooo much imaginatory play at home right now - on his own - unprodded by me. In fact, if I insert myself - it is very disruptive to him and he generally asks that I don't. I am not sure if the home imaginatory play is so prevelant because at school they cannot? But I sure am not worried about that outlet - it is very active at home -- DS is using play silks to reinact books we've been reading - I find him jabbering on and on to himself in different areas of the house - acting things out - weaving two different story lines together to create his own little story -- it is fascinating to watch!

TripMom . . . . . loving mom : to DS (7) and BBG (4.5)
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#8 of 18 Old 02-28-2006, 10:38 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flyingspaghettimama
Alfie Kohn's books - while not Montessori - are frequently read by many Montessori teachers and recommended by catalogs because of the similarity in approaches. .
Does Alfie Kohn teach non-coercive parenting as a discipline style?

TripMom . . . . . loving mom : to DS (7) and BBG (4.5)
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#9 of 18 Old 02-28-2006, 10:40 PM
 
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Hey good cents -

What were your concerns with M-school? Just the warmth of the teachers and effect on imagination? Any others?

TripMom . . . . . loving mom : to DS (7) and BBG (4.5)
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#10 of 18 Old 02-28-2006, 11:12 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TripMom
Does Alfie Kohn teach non-coercive parenting as a discipline style?
Yes indeedy. http://www.alfiekohn.org/articles.htm#null
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#11 of 18 Old 02-28-2006, 11:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Mostly my concern is switching and dd hating it. She has been through a load of transitions recently. Her most recent being switching classroom from the "younger" class to the "older" class at her current daycare. She doesn't transistion well to new environments and the fact that at this school you leave the kids at the door (where they meet a teacher) bugs me. She will only go an hour a day for the first week, but I am worried she will still have a hard time that hour you know?

Quote:
I think there are problems and great things about every educational philosophy, it's just finding one where you can overlook most of the stuff you don't like because the rest is so great...
I think this is a really great point FSM. I do think that there will never be the perfect school. No emilia school here - not any time soon anyway.

I was also worried about them having to use the "apparatus" a certain way. I discussed this with the director though and now feel confident that they allow the child to explore it anyway they like as long as they respect it, learn to use it properly, put it away when finished etc.

I just got off the phone with her old teacher in her current daycare ('member she just switched classes). She completely validated my intuition that my daughter's intellectual needs are being totally forfilled where she is now. Hopefully montessori will be able to do that. But how do you know?
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#12 of 18 Old 03-01-2006, 01:07 AM
 
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Well, I wouldn't move her for intellectual reasons alone. Yeah, she might learn to read; but she also might enjoy the "walking around" work that my daughter so enjoys (as in, walk around and visit socially with other children).
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#13 of 18 Old 03-01-2006, 03:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flyingspaghettimama
Well, I wouldn't move her for intellectual reasons alone. Yeah, she might learn to read; but she also might enjoy the "walking around" work that my daughter so enjoys (as in, walk around and visit socially with other children).
yeah - i know. that is part of the problem with the current daycare. all of the kids have been together since they were babies. dd has had a harder time breaking into that social circle.


still debating......
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#14 of 18 Old 03-01-2006, 07:27 PM
 
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Well, I only just visited a Montessori school today and the director (??) led me and my 2 boys, 2 and 5, into a classroom. Seemed like a good move. It's a primary classroom so the kids could play in that right? WRONG. She asks my 5 yo (who is with me) IF he would like to go outside and play with lego while she talks to me? yes, she asked him a question.
He answers "no thank you" in a conversational way and begins to look at the things in the classroom and she asks me....




"Is he for real?" Really shocked. Like my kid is super sassy for politely saying no thank you to a question she asked him. There was more. It was just downhill from there. It didn't seem child led at all. It was like "Tutor Time" but with cloth diapers and wood toys (that are put in front of you and you can't touch). So... is this really Montessori?? Or a director who likes directing a little too much?

I'm sure she will be thinking my son is unbehaved and obnoxious.

Sorry to highjack but it is a pet peeve of mine when adults ask a question where they should have made a statement and even more stupid when they can't admit they made a mistake and say so. "I shouldn't have asked, I need you to go outside and play while I talk to your Mum...."
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#15 of 18 Old 03-01-2006, 09:05 PM
 
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FancyPants, I am surprised they let you bring your child with you to the visit. Most schools don't allow children to come with on tours/observations, even public or traditional nursery schools in my area.

Nope, it's normal. You get a lesson first on the work (what you called wood toys) before you use it. Normally, if they were set up to do a one-on-one with your son, he would choose some work and they would sit down and show him how you use the material (it's not so obvious, really). During the three-hour work period, children choose their work, their snack, and how long they want to take with anything. Which is very different from a traditional school where the children are shuffled from one activity to another.

I would suggest reading some books on Montessori? It sounds like the director didn't have the smoothest touch when discussing how things work in Montessori classrooms. A better teacher would have offered a simple choice: play legos outside or stand quietly by us and observe...

This must be a facility that takes infants? Many M schools in my area don't take kids until they are potty trained due to health regulations.
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#16 of 18 Old 03-02-2006, 12:50 AM
 
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I'm seriously very surprised to hear that you cannot take your children with you. Where do you live? This has never been the case for me anywhere I live and ds1 has been in public school (we came at the end of the day to meet the teacher). If you are looking for daycare/preschool wouldn't you be without childcare and unable to come without your children?

It was an empty classroom. This was in the afternoon and the preschools are in the morning. Some of the other rooms had children napping in them (so its a daycare/preschool). I was interested for my 2 year old for next year. As he is more practical minded the bit I read on Montessori intrigued me. However, it didn't really seem like they had child led time as she kept saying. Hard to see without being able to observe a class (windows inside are glass which is how I got to see everybody sleeping)
Montessori is definitely NOT a good fit for my oldest but he was along for the ride.
It just seems weird to me, especially if you work with kids all day knowing they are quite literal. If you asked me, an adult, "do you want to go outside?" and I said "no thank you" would you be shocked? Really, she was very taken aback and he did not say "no thank you" disrespectfully in the slightest.
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#17 of 18 Old 03-02-2006, 06:32 PM - Thread Starter
 
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when should I start DD? Here is the magic question.

DD has been somewhat traumatized by the fits and starts that have occured with her current daycare. She was out of care for 5 weeks from Aug-Sept when we moved, she started care again in October, we went to egypt in november, came back for the short holiday month of december, and in january she started the new class. So her transition this time needs to be as smooth as possible. I could:

1.) Start her new at the Montessori school next week. She would have three weeks in school, before a two week April break.

2.) Start her on April 17th where she would remain in school continuiously through the first week of June.

3.) Keep her in current daycare until June and start her in the Montessori program for the summer 5 week program.


Each situation has there own pros and cons:

1.) Pro - she starts right away, before she has more time to settle in her "new class" that she began in January. Con - she stops again in 3 weeks. I also have to pay current daycare for this whole month regardless of whether she is in or out. By the daycare contract I have to give them 30 days notice before I am let out of the monthly fee. Con #2 - she will only be in for 3 week before the LONG break (2 weeks is a long time to a 3 yo)

2). Pro - I don't have to pay for services I won't receive with current daycare. DD will also be in the school continiously without a break. Remember - the starting and stopping has been a bit confusing. Con - and a major one in my book, is she will get more attached to the current situation, which I don't really want her to do if we are leaving there.

3.) Pro - I can sorta tiptoe into the Montessori program without making a big committment. If we hate it, its only 5 weeks and dd can return to current or different care. Con - we have to wait for 3 months to start new program. This could be a pro since sometimes I get excited (as I am now) about new situations (kinda like an impulse buy). Con- as in situation two - the longer she stays at current place the longer she bonds and will be likely to resist a change.
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#18 of 18 Old 03-09-2006, 02:43 PM
 
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: lurking...I just registered my 3yo DD in a Montessori preschool for September (3 hours a day 2 days a week)

Mama of 2 boys, 5 girls.grouphug.gif

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