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#31 of 52 Old 01-17-2008, 05:38 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I also think the cursive thing is a bit over the top. I personally think that children that young would typically lack the fine motor skills necessary and it would be too much pressure for them.
Most children in continental Europe learn cursive long before printing. At my DD's (French) school, the kids learn to write cursive at age 5, before they learn to read or print letters. The kids at that age seem to manage fine. It has always been done that way in the French system and no one seems to think it unusual.

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#32 of 52 Old 01-25-2008, 02:01 PM
 
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This will be an interesting topic to read since I've heard very very few negatives about M schools. Two of my husbands cousins have done M schools and one of them felt that her older daughter did not do as well in the M environment (she feels her daughter was not self motivated enough) and she criticized the teacher for not "pushing" her daughter more. (She said that her daughter had a friend whom she spent all her time with socializing and did not or was not encouraged enough to get back to work or spend more time focusing on the activities.)

Of course, that's one mom's perception, but I found that observation interesting. She was not "high" on M school like a lot of M parents are, but she didn't knock it badly either. I think she didn't find it that much more special, and her younger daughter who did great is probably of the personality that she would be great in any school environment.
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#33 of 52 Old 01-25-2008, 02:50 PM
 
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I like a lot about Montesorri but didn't choose it because of the emphasis on practicality vs. imagination. There is a tendency in montesorri schools to correct children and ask them to use things the proper way, as tools not toys.
So a child who turns over the small ironing board and says its a boat will be told its not a boat, its an ironing board and it goes right side up. They think children model adults and take their "work" seriously. I think that's true. I also thing imagination, open ended creative play, story telling, imaginary worlds, etc... are really significant and important to the development of children. Both waldorf schools and progressive schools make more room, in my opinion, for this aspect of early childhood. I'm not endorsing those schools, I'm just comparing the fact that some models make room for this type of play and I don't think Montesorri, on the whole, does.
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#34 of 52 Old 01-27-2008, 11:37 PM
 
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This is a strange one, and I'm sure it can't be a typical kind of thing, because I've never heard anything like this about any other Montessori school. But my friend's little girl - a very quiet and shy little girl - was punished in a popular little Montessor pre-k for eating her strawberries before the rest of her lunch. I think she had to miss her recess or some such thing. Pretty strange. My friend was pretty unnerved by it - I would have been livid. - Lillian
Ds's M school doesn't punish kids for this, but I do remember when he started going full day there was some emphasis on "learning" to eat your lunch properly and that included eating "desert" last. The director also wanted the kids to eat their crust on pizza day-- till the parents protested that Friday was the one day we didn't have to make lunch and we loved that so could the director just get over it?

My complaint is the rigidity in schedules. You know my complaint-- all four year olds have to go full day, but I know that not all schools have that policy.

Ds is 4 and has started cursive. I do think it is easier for him than printing.
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#35 of 52 Old 01-28-2008, 12:05 AM
 
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My only complaint about M school is the dorkiness factor of the lingo/language. It gives the impression that they all (administration, guides, etc) take themselves so seriously. I just can't greet another person with, "Hello, friend." and keep a straight face. :

Overall, our school is pretty easy-going though, compared to some others I've heard about. The atmosphere is very open to parents. There is a required number of hours each family has to volunteer, a weekly "Community Gathering" (student assembly) where the kids get up and sing or whatever (by choice, not forced), and a "Commons" where parents can sit and chat all day if they want. I often stand outside DS's room and watch him through the one-way window/mirror in the door. We have had no issues with "secrecy". That would weird me out.

My DS is social and silly, and when I watch through the windows, it looks like several of the other 3 year olds are silly, too. (Imagine that!) They spend what seems to me like a normal healthy amount of time standing around chatting and being silly.
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#36 of 52 Old 01-28-2008, 03:03 AM
 
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thought i'd bring this thread back to life...

we just visited a public montessori school the other day and I am torn. At first I was so impressed, but now am having second thoughts.

I wonder if it is really appropriate for 3-5 year olds to be writing in cursive? That is how much of the work was done. The kids were using the counting blocks and counting into the thousands...is this a case of just "achieving" more?

I noticed the children didn't seem to be smiling, at least in the younger ages. I worry about my son, who is sooo social. How would he do in such an independent environment at such a young age?

Anyone have more criticism???
My daughter rarely smiles when concentrating on an interesting task. It doesn't mean she isnt' enjoying herself. She probably looks like those kids you saw most of the day yet she LOVES school.

Most of the criticism I have seen on this thread I have not seen in DD or in her school. She is excelling in just about everything, is busy busy busy at school and is learning tons. I am sending her for her Kindergarten year because by the end of this year (pre-k, 2nd year CH) she will already be doing everything they will plan to teach in public school Kindergarten (and my mom was the Kindergarten teacher at our public school, so I am not just speculating on this).

DD has not brought home anything in cursive, though they may have some related works, they are learning print.

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#37 of 52 Old 01-28-2008, 10:04 AM
 
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My three youngest have been in Montessori charter school for the last three years and I adore it. The only complaints I have had have been on a personal level with a few teachers-and even those were never a huge ordeal-just some difference of opinions that were easily resolved after talking to them. I suppose my largest complaint is about FL testing standards that even montessori has to follow (fcats, sat9/10) which of course can affect the rate at which a certain age level must learn something-with that, though, even the teachers I know agree with my dislike of having to force a 7 yo to sit for more than an hour and pay attention to a test...so it tends to be a necessary evil that has nothing to do with the actual school.

The approach to learning suits my children very well-they really love school. I do the *check in* with them a lot-'do you want to homeschool?' and they invariably would rather not! They love the ability to research, go at their own pace, etc.

So I really don't have any major gripes...which is a miracle for me, cause I usually can find some!

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#38 of 52 Old 01-29-2008, 04:00 AM
 
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I really hesitated to post here, as I am not a critic. However, I did end up pulling my ds out of Montessori and into a more traditional school in 4th grade. He had been attending from age 3 on.

Montessori was not working for him. My husband and I started thinking about whether or not this could be true and when we discussed it with the Director, she stated she really thought so. We tried many options before pulling him and worked extensively with the school, but in the end we all agreed that it was pretty obvious he wasn't getting what he needed. Not all children learn the same way and he definitely needed something different.

It is just his personality type. For a great many children, Montessori has so many benefits. Just not what my son needed at that time. The change to traditional school was a bit difficult but he now has this amazing enthusiasm for school and learning that was always missing for him at Montessori. He is so much happier all the way around and has been since we pulled him (he's now 12 so this was 4 years ago).

We now have my daughter in a preschool co-op (because of our location) that is based very loosely on Montessori methods and are considering putting her into a Montessori. Her personality is so different from my son's but we're still thinking on what we want to do. I do love Montessori though.
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#39 of 52 Old 01-29-2008, 11:15 AM
 
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It is just his personality type. For a great many children, Montessori has so many benefits. Just not what my son needed at that time. The change to traditional school was a bit difficult but he now has this amazing enthusiasm for school and learning that was always missing for him at Montessori. He is so much happier all the way around and has been since we pulled him (he's now 12 so this was 4 years ago).

We now have my daughter in a preschool co-op (because of our location) that is based very loosely on Montessori methods and are considering putting her into a Montessori. Her personality is so different from my son's but we're still thinking on what we want to do. I do love Montessori though.
If you don't mind sharing I would love to know where the roadbumps were for your son. I totally believe that this is what parenting & education is - responding to your child's actual needs. I am happy with our Montessori so far but I want to try to stay open to my son's experience and always glad to hear from people who've been there making the decisions.

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#40 of 52 Old 01-29-2008, 12:02 PM
 
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I like a lot about Montesorri but didn't choose it because of the emphasis on practicality vs. imagination. There is a tendency in montesorri schools to correct children and ask them to use things the proper way, as tools not toys.
So a child who turns over the small ironing board and says its a boat will be told its not a boat, its an ironing board and it goes right side up. They think children model adults and take their "work" seriously. I think that's true. I also thing imagination, open ended creative play, story telling, imaginary worlds, etc... are really significant and important to the development of children. Both waldorf schools and progressive schools make more room, in my opinion, for this aspect of early childhood. I'm not endorsing those schools, I'm just comparing the fact that some models make room for this type of play and I don't think Montesorri, on the whole, does.
I see this presented frequently as a downside to Montessori. I agree that pretend play does not have a role in the Montessori primary classroom (3-6 year olds). But I don't believe that it means that creativity is not encouraged. I think a lot of adults have a set idea about what imagination or creativity means (pretending something that isn't there, making something that is one thing into another) and I don't think it always has to be that. I am struggling to explain, I guess. But if I want to be creative, I pick up my knitting or I spin some yarn. I don't pick up my power drill and pretend it is a flying saucer, KWIM?

I don't fell that there is anything wrong with saying that there are certain items that are tools, and we use them for specific reasons. The Montessori materials are designed to teach certain concepts, and they lose their effectiveness in teaching that idea if they are used in a different way. But if a child wants to build with building blocks rather than understand the differences in dimension taught by the pink tower, then I, as a parent, would provide blocks at home. The same with dress up clothes or a play kitchen (my children have all of these at home).

Although I am training as a Montessori teacher, I feel that it is easier (and much more fun!) for me as a parent to provide play and dress up and pretending. When my kids go to school they learn to explore with their senses, do multiplication, find out about the sounds that the letters of the alphabet make, etc. I don't mind doing some of that at home with them, but i'd rather just spend time with them enjoying life (Montessori schools also typically don't give homework, even at the elementary level).

As far as the academics being "pushed" on them, or children taking their work seriously, children don't have the same preconceived notion of work that adults do. We automatically think play = fun and work = boring and depressing. If i ask my kids what work they did at school, they are likely to say something like, "I did the checkerboard today and it was really awesome!" or my little one will say, "I did the color tablets. It was fun!"

I feel that if they are naturally interested in something, such as letter sounds, and the teacher presents it to them, that doesn't mean it is being pushed on them. After something is presented to them, they have the option to choose or not to choose that work in the future. If they are choosing to learn division, or choosing to learn letter sounds or cursive writing, it isn't because someone is forcing it down their throat. It is because of all the lessons they have been presented, that is what they find interesting at the moment.

And we do present lessons in handwork, art (painting, drawing, batik, papermaking, embroidery, sculpture, bookbinding, etc.) We also present music lessons and students are free to play the tone bars or sing in class. There are botany lessons and children are often free to go outside and garden, or to collect samples of types of plants to investigate. We present science concepts and children can create models of the sun and earth and rivers, mix different substances to see how they react, do experiments to learn about concepts of gravity, magnetism, and the states of matter. Children can make giant timelines of historical events or the lives of people, and can usually research and illustrate/make posters and books about/write plays about, nearly any concept they find fascinating.

Even with all of these things (and more) available as choices in the classroom, children still often make the choice to do math, geometry, and language skills as well. If you think about it, throughout human history, people have always been interested in communicating with one another through language, written and spoken. People have always been interested in mathematical and geometrical concepts. No one has to pressure children to find these things interesting if the sense of wonder is left to develop naturally and people don't tell children that these things are supposed to be boring or hard work.

I understand that children like to pretend, and dress up, and play. I don't really understand where we get the idea that this is all they want to do, that they don't want to participate in and learn about real life things. Just because I had a difficult time learning algebra in high school doesn't mean that when I teach it I plan to give the impression that it is hard and no fun. For some kids, it might be their favorite lesson! Especially if I introduce it with the idea of, "Look at this really neat thing that people learned you could do with numbers. Can you imagine who the first person was that ever though of this?"
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#41 of 52 Old 01-29-2008, 12:19 PM
 
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I really hesitated to post here, as I am not a critic. However, I did end up pulling my ds out of Montessori and into a more traditional school in 4th grade. He had been attending from age 3 on.

Montessori was not working for him. My husband and I started thinking about whether or not this could be true and when we discussed it with the Director, she stated she really thought so. We tried many options before pulling him and worked extensively with the school, but in the end we all agreed that it was pretty obvious he wasn't getting what he needed. Not all children learn the same way and he definitely needed something different.

It is just his personality type. For a great many children, Montessori has so many benefits. Just not what my son needed at that time. The change to traditional school was a bit difficult but he now has this amazing enthusiasm for school and learning that was always missing for him at Montessori. He is so much happier all the way around and has been since we pulled him (he's now 12 so this was 4 years ago).

We now have my daughter in a preschool co-op (because of our location) that is based very loosely on Montessori methods and are considering putting her into a Montessori. Her personality is so different from my son's but we're still thinking on what we want to do. I do love Montessori though.
Your posts fits how I feel discussions on teaching methods really should be. One style of teaching does not fit every child, regardless of what style that is. I feel it would be more fitting to discuss what personality traits and characteristics work well with this learning style than to frame bad experiences as a flaw with the whole method. What one child might find too boring, another finds fascinating, etc.

Mightymoo - Mom to DD (6) and DS (4)
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#42 of 52 Old 01-29-2008, 01:08 PM
 
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If you don't mind sharing I would love to know where the roadbumps were for your son.
Honestly, even though we tried to pinpoint what exactly was missing, we never could. He just had no enthusiasm for learning their way. He needed something more concrete, more competitive, with more pressure. He is a perfectionist with procrastination tendencies. He has a personality where he will do the least necessary unless he is really pushed and challenged. It wasn't that he was suffering academically or socially, as he was at level and had tons of friends, and he wasn't acting out in any way. We could just tell that he wasn't happy with it. It was obvious that he wasn't even close to fulfilling his potential.

I'm not a mother who puts much stock in where children "should" be. I think all children learn in different ways, at different levels and at different times. It has been truly amazing to watch him blossom in a traditional school. Now, he gets excited about the challenges posed to him through learning. And, academically, he has excelled.

Again, I do love Montessori and it made me a bit sad that it wasn't suited for him. However, I believe in listening to my children and following their personalities. His lead us to a different style of education.
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#43 of 52 Old 01-29-2008, 01:41 PM
 
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Honestly, even though we tried to pinpoint what exactly was missing, we never could. He just had no enthusiasm for learning their way. He needed something more concrete, more competitive, with more pressure. He is a perfectionist with procrastination tendencies. He has a personality where he will do the least necessary unless he is really pushed and challenged. It wasn't that he was suffering academically or socially, as he was at level and had tons of friends, and he wasn't acting out in any way. We could just tell that he wasn't happy with it. It was obvious that he wasn't even close to fulfilling his potential.

I'm not a mother who puts much stock in where children "should" be. I think all children learn in different ways, at different levels and at different times. It has been truly amazing to watch him blossom in a traditional school. Now, he gets excited about the challenges posed to him through learning. And, academically, he has excelled.

Again, I do love Montessori and it made me a bit sad that it wasn't suited for him. However, I believe in listening to my children and following their personalities. His lead us to a different style of education.
I totally agree with your approach and thanks for sharing... my son is into praise/external reinforcement and has been since we could gauge it, so I am curious to see how he keeps going in Montessori or whether at some point he'll need more traditional reinforcement. (Poor him because my partner and I are not so into the praise thing!)

Right now it works just fine because he is so driven to explore, but I wonder if it will level off as he gets older... just kind of a feeling I have. So thanks again for sharing; I think it is a great story of a really plugged in mother.

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#44 of 52 Old 01-29-2008, 03:23 PM
 
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t

I wonder if it is really appropriate for 3-5 year olds to be writing in cursive? That is how much of the work was done. The kids were using the counting blocks and counting into the thousands...is this a case of just "achieving" more?
I am very curious about cursive too. I think cursive writing is fine but at the school we visited the moveable alphabet was also in cursive. I wonder if they will work with printed letters also? I worry if there is too much emphasis on cursive they may have trouble reading typed letters.
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#45 of 52 Old 01-29-2008, 04:18 PM
 
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I am very curious about cursive too. I think cursive writing is fine but at the school we visited the moveable alphabet was also in cursive. I wonder if they will work with printed letters also? I worry if there is too much emphasis on cursive they may have trouble reading typed letters.
Cursive writing can be achieve much quicker for a 3 to 5 year old than a child who has learned manuscript writing before cursive.

Cursive is easier to learn for the child just starting to write b/c children are encouraged to scribble when coloring during their art activities. The scribbling trains them to keep a steady motion while writing.

Cursive is a steady motion. Manuscript forces the child to constantly pick up their medium while writing. The expression of freelance writing is often disturbed during the manuscript lesson.

Once a child that young has been exposed to cursive, it sticks. Manuscript can be applied without ever worrying about having to teach cursive again. Given the child in question is compatible for Montessori. To each their own, so they'll thrive.
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#46 of 52 Old 01-29-2008, 06:37 PM
 
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I understand the mechanics of cursive. I just want to know that the kids get exposure to typed letters for reading recognition.
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#47 of 52 Old 01-29-2008, 06:47 PM
 
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They do get the exposure in several ways. First of all, they work with the moveable alphabet (which is sometimes cursive, but often print). But everything in their world is in print with the exception of the sandpaper letters and their own written work. They seem to pick up print easily and naturally as parents and teachers read aloud to them (and they see the print with the pictures). Street signs, food labels, books and magazines around the house, etc. are all in print. Also, most of the other Montessori materials such as grammar boxes, nomenclature materials, interpretive reading are in print.
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#48 of 52 Old 02-03-2008, 11:53 AM
 
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Writing is introduced in Montessori with cursive sandpaper letters (American adaptation is to use print - this is not Montessori although a print alphabet is used for reading activities). The lessons progress to work with the moveable alphabet, then using chalkboards and sandtrays. There is then a progression of paper sizes and lessons with writing single letters to whole words on paper.
Montessori stressed the cursive writing because it follows the natural rhythms of childrens artwork (progressing from scribbling to representational drawing). This is a natural way of writing because the pencil flows along the paper without stopping or lifting.
The circular movements of cursive are developed by the "indirect preparations" (Montessoriese) involved in activities such as table washing, polishing and many of the sensorial materials esp. the geometry cabinet and the cylinders. More specifically, the metal insets develop the motions and muscles needed for good cursive writing.
There is less confusion between the cursive and the print forms of some letters (esp. b, d, p and q). There are many fewer cases of reversals and cases of dyslexia. This is anecdotal (and personally experienced) for the most part at this time. Further research would be interesting (maybe I will do it - I've been trying to think of a research idea) I enjoyed reading the pp who also witnessed this.
The child who can read cursive can also read manuscript, but the reverse is not always true.
In printing, the child often confuses and interchages lower case and capital letters. For ex, AndY instead of Andy. This is rarely a problem in cursive.
Since cursive writing is used primarily thorughout one's life, Montessori presents this first when interest in learning to write is greatest. Many older children and adults who were taught manuscript first have not made the transition to cursive and continue the slower and more awkward manuscript.

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#49 of 52 Old 02-28-2008, 02:17 AM
 
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About the cursive, I'd like to add to everything already mentioned, that learning cursive is supposed to be easier for the 4-6 yr olds, because they are still in the "sensitive period for fine motor control".
I have heard quite a few stories about kids who did better in regular public schools, mainly because they seemed to need that pressure of having clear-cut, non-ambiguous expectations set by the teacher and by a group of peers all doing basically the same tasks. Some kids just don't have the "intrinsic motivation" and won't learn very well in an environment where they need to be mainly self-directed.
Learning to read print is no problem for the kids who learn cursive writing early - they are surrounded by block letters and introduced to them from a very young age. And almost all the reading they do is from print letters.
I think one problem that happens with Montessori is that occasionally you have 3 yr-olds who are simply not ready for that kind of structure and the expectations involved in being part of a little community like a M. classroom. I've seen kids who barely said a word for the entire year in the classroom, but as soon as they walked out the door turned into expressive little chatterboxes.
But despite the fact that Montessori is not a perfect fit for everyone, I think most children do love it and thrive (if it is a true Montessori school).
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#50 of 52 Old 02-28-2008, 01:19 PM
 
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I have heard quite a few stories about kids who did better in regular public schools, mainly because they seemed to need that pressure of having clear-cut, non-ambiguous expectations set by the teacher and by a group of peers all doing basically the same tasks. Some kids just don't have the "intrinsic motivation" and won't learn very well in an environment where they need to be mainly self-directed.
Did better at what?

I will agree this may be more helpful for some for some things. I'm just curious in what ways and for whom. I'm also curious about what consequences there are to that.

It also begs the question: How adaptable are Montessori teachers to different learning styles? I always say a benefit of Montessori is the observation. When a teacher sees something that is not working, how do they adapt? With a 3 hour work cycle, how are we getting this child that does have trouble choosing activities the skills he needs to do so? Also, are we quick to judge the idea that this child needs to choose activities? Is it absolutely necessary?

Now I'm throwing out the questions rather than answering them. Discuss ;-)

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#51 of 52 Old 02-29-2008, 12:27 PM
 
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Hmm, I'm trying to figure out how to put a quote in a box within the text... can't be that hard - can someone help me out?

What I meant by "do better" is really "be happier". I don't say this from direct experience, but from talking to parents who felt that their kids were happier, more relaxed, and more challenged in a more "traditional" school setting. This was after the parents observed their kids both at a Montessori school and later at the other school. I'm thinking here specifically of elementary-age children, for whom the learning expectations tend to be more explicit than for the primary age.

My impression, from talking to teachers, kids, and parents at the school I used to work at, is that it did happen that some children would have an aversion to a subject they found difficult - like maybe math, and, in the complex dance of the classroom day, would manage to dance around doing it! Maybe these were older kids who never had the primary foundation in Montessori and their natural love of learning was quashed before they came to M. school - I can't remember right now the specific history of the children I'm thinking of.

MM designed the classroom to have a large child to adult ratio so that it would be harder for the teachers to dominate and oversee every child activity - am I right? The down side to this is that it does take an incredibly observant, active teacher to make sure every kid is getting what they need in a timely manner. Some subjects, with some kids, fall between the cracks.
But this happens in public schools, too - or I would know my multiplication tables better than I do! So maybe it isn't a M. problem. I'm open to other interpretations.

The upper elementary classroom at the school I worked at was an enormous classroom of more than 50 kids, with 4 teachers. I never spent much time in there, but I wondered about how it worked as far as teachers making sure that the students had at least the academic basics they needed.

Would love to hear from some M. elementary teachers on this.
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Originally Posted by Anandamama View Post
The upper elementary classroom at the school I worked at was an enormous classroom of more than 50 kids, with 4 teachers.
My take is that you are right in that it takes an active teacher, with good observation and planning skills to make sure that kids don't fall through the cracks. But I also think the above set-up is quite unusual. Most elementary classes I've seen have no more than 30 kids at the most, often far fewer (20-24) and one teacher, sometimes a teacher and an assistant. That makes it a bit easier to keep track. More later, kids need me...
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