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#1 of 52 Old 04-07-2006, 04:32 AM - Thread Starter
 
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The Montessori file is just so boring compared to the Waldorf one, so I thought I would create this thread.

Has anyone (or anyone's child) had any really bad experiences in a Montessori school? Too individual? Boring for the child? Too much to do? Not enough to do? Child not adapted to taking the initiative? Teacher stomped out child's initiative? Other criticisms?

My DD is only 20 months old now so I would be very interested in hearing all complaints, grievances and even small annoyances before we put her in the Montessori system. I love the system in theory and I loved the classrooms that I have observed but nevertheless, its always good to hear about the cases that have not worked out so well!

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#2 of 52 Old 04-07-2006, 07:28 AM
 
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Originally Posted by cmlp
The Montessori file is just so boring compared to the Waldorf one, so I thought I would create this thread.


insert winking smiley here! (the smilies aren't working)

cmlp, after some of the excitement we've had in there, that's o.k.!! (lol)

 
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#3 of 52 Old 04-07-2006, 01:06 PM
 
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Well, I don't think anyone here can have the amount of ... vitriol that the Waldorf board seems to engender. I could be wrong (oooh, surprise me!)

I will say, after three years in Montessori at two very traditional schools, that these are my criticisms:

1) Rigidity about scope and sequence. I.e. if a child is interested in the formation of the world or time, then they shouldn't HAVE to wait until elementary to explore it. Some children enjoy word problems before they master the thousand chain. Kids are weird like that. Not every child learns in a linear manner.

2) Rigidity about socializing and play during the work period. You already know my beef with this, on the Montessori Slacker page. My daughter has consistently been "in trouble" for these issues at both schools she's been at, for all three years of M school.

3) Lack of silliness and humor as part of the day. I think my child would have enjoyed herself a bit more.

Regardless, I still think it's been the best for her overall. I have a hard time imagining how she would have fit into a traditional preschool. No schooling system is perfect, but M was a fairly good fit for us.
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#4 of 52 Old 04-07-2006, 08:23 PM
 
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I don't have any negative experiences personally but I do know that Montessori schools vary greatly and just because they use the name in their title doesn't mean they are a "true" Montessori school. I think it's important that they are affiliated with AMI or AMS to start with. I am trained in AMI so I am biased and believe it's the better way to go but that doesn't mean there aren't great AMS programs.

I can remember working in the Nido (infant room) and we had a local news channel come do a report. It was more about early-head start though as our school received funding from them but anyways one of the reporters came into my room and observed for a while. He was literally in tears because he had a daughter in a well known chain Montessori school (very high priced) and he never realized that it wasn't *really* montessori. He was so intrigued by the materials and environment at my school and was upset about the way things were done at his dd's school. But not having seen a good Montessori school he had nothing to compare his to, so he didn't know what his child was missing out on.

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#5 of 52 Old 04-07-2006, 09:55 PM
 
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[QUOTE=Drummer's Wife]I don't have any negative experiences personally but I do know that Montessori schools vary greatly and just because they use the name in their title doesn't mean they are a "true" Montessori school. I think it's important that they are affiliated with AMI or AMS to start with. I am trained in AMI so I am biased and believe it's the better way to go but that doesn't mean their aren't great AMS programs.
QUOTE]
This is the main problem for us too.When we lived in Vancouver the first Montessori school we found happend to be fantastic. the teacher was AMI trained. My husband got a job tranfer so we moved.The new school we found is not nearly as nice as the old one.
My other thing I don't like is coming from Waldorf the Montessori parents are more mainstream (not like the ones in this forum!) they let there kids watch stuff like ninja turtles and go to Mac Donalds stuff like that. My son always complains now about the lunches I make him that they are too "healthy".The other children have lots of junk food.
In spite of all that Montessori is really good for our son and I am happy we changed from Waldorf.
Lorraine
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#6 of 52 Old 04-07-2006, 11:57 PM
 
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no complaints here.

In fact, our casa experience was so wonderful that I am on the board of directors for a society that has just petioned our local school board successfully to have a Montessori program in an elementary school here. The teacher will be properly certified, so no issues with it being "Montessori-Inspired".
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#7 of 52 Old 04-08-2006, 12:14 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cmlp
Has anyone (or anyone's child) had any really bad experiences in a Montessori school?
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
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#8 of 52 Old 04-08-2006, 12:28 AM
 
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I worked at a Montessori in college and absolutely loved it. It is exactly the kind of place where I would like to send my children- if we can afford it.

I guess that's my only criticism- around here there are no public Montessori schools, so it seems like an economically homogenous group of kids. Even if there is a random scholarship, the diversity that comes from having different children of different classes is still missing. I know the same can be said about most private schools.
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#9 of 52 Old 04-08-2006, 02:41 AM
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Originally Posted by cmlp

Has anyone (or anyone's child) had any really bad experiences in a Montessori school?
My oldest dd(8) has be attending Montessori for five years, ages 4-8, and overall, I have no complaints. She was at an AMI accredited school for ages 4-5, then for "first" grade a new school. I did have a not so pleasant experience at the school, so moved her to her current school. Time outs implemented at recess and not inline with true montessori teaching. The school had a 1st grade teacher, a second grade teacher, etc. That school was AMS. Current school is AMS. All schools are private and I can't see my daughter in a traditional school. With any school, one may have some negative experiences, but the positive experience and love found in montessori philosophy outweighs it all .

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#10 of 52 Old 04-08-2006, 01:21 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Lillian J


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
Yeah, that's a bit weird. We tell parents to pack a lunch in a way so that it doesn't matter in what order the child eats.

eta: I work in a Montessori school
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#11 of 52 Old 04-08-2006, 11:29 PM
 
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#12 of 52 Old 04-09-2006, 12:26 AM
 
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I think this is a tricky one as Montessori schools seem to vary so much. I live in Australia and some of the things I read on here have never happened in my DD's school. I don't even know of any Montessori schools here that come out and get your child from the car.

My DD has been in Montessori for just over 1 year now and so far I have no complaints!
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#13 of 52 Old 04-12-2006, 10:00 PM
 
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[QUOTE=cmlp]The Montessori file is just so boring compared to the Waldorf one, so I thought I would create this thread.

Has anyone (or anyone's child) had any really bad experiences in a Montessori school? Too individual? Boring for the child? Too much to do? Not enough to do? Child not adapted to taking the initiative? Teacher stomped out child's initiative? Other criticisms?
QUOTE]
I forgot to mention there is a tread called something like "the bad stuff about Montessori" I first read it when I was considering changing to Montessori last year.It must have been about February or March 2005.
Some mothers did wrtie about bad experiences they had.
There is nothing in it quite as bad as some of the experiences I have heard about Waldorf though.
As far as I know there is no "Montessori survivors support group
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#14 of 52 Old 04-13-2006, 03:37 AM - Thread Starter
 
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The most common complaint that I have heard has to do with the secretiveness of what goes on in class. I don't know if it is just a French cultural thing (we live in France) or specific to Montessori but many parents have told me that, while their child loves his/her Montessori school and appears to be making incredible progress, the directress will not tell the parents anything about what the child is doing in class from day to day. The day to day mechanics of the Montessori method thus ends up being a huge mystery to the parents.

Anyone else experience this?

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#15 of 52 Old 04-13-2006, 11:55 AM
 
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Yes, this is true here too. I think I have an advantage though, as I've been in M school before. So I can ask specific questions. You can figure out what they're doing based upon the papers they bring home (we had a couple of months of metal inset work), if you've been in M or have been a teacher.

There's an open house once a year where the children show the parents their favorite works; but outside of that, I don't see a lot of outreach towards parents regarding work and the pedagogy. It's too bad, because I think many of the parents are in the dark about Montessori and would possibly keep their children in through the elementary years if they understood more about the overall approach. I think the language also creates a barrier - there seems to be a lot of montessori-specific terminology that is not explained adequately to parents.
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#16 of 52 Old 04-13-2006, 01:30 PM
 
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Again I think it depends on the school and the teacher... I do think that parents sometimes feel left out of the loop because they don't come into the classroom in the morning, when you're just briefly dropping your child off at the door you don't get more than a glimpse into the room and how it functions, and then more than likely at pick-up time the day is over and the work cycle is done, or in my dd's case, she attended half a day while the older children stayed all day so when I picked her up I couldn't go into the room and spend time because the other chidlren were working. And pulling the teacher aside on a daily basis doesn't really happen because then you are taking her away from the class, I know in other types of schools it may be normal to stay and talk in the am or at pick-up and catch up about the child's daily activities but it doesn't seem to fit into the Directress's role... as it would have a neg effect on the other children.

The school I worked at was for younger children and a very different population as it was federally funded and the parents who's children attended did not seek out Montessori specifically... honestly most couldn't even spell it. But I would frequently send home notes in their folder to communicate what the child was doing during the day and any questions or concerns I had and the parent would (sometimes) bring it back it the next morning so we didn't feel so disconnected. I do think it's important to say know that the child was up late last night or had a major change in their family and it's hard to talk about this stuff at drop off.

As far as educating the parents on the Montessori Pedagogy, I agree it's super important.... if they don't understand it they won't appreciate it as much nor will they be able to incorporate some of it in their home environment. Where I worked we had parent night once a month where we met in small groups in the classroom and then as a whole and did a ton of Montessori education including ideas of how to work with the child at home.
I think maybe some M teachers do not explain to parents say the ideas behind the work cause it may sound confusing to somd?! I'm not sure but the training is very extensive (I'm speaking about AMI as that is my experience) and some things are not as simple as say oh he is developing his hand eye coordination.. or such... everything is so specific and while it makes perfect sense when you have the complete picture, I can see how it may be confusing to explain and understand if you only are given a piece of the information.

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#17 of 52 Old 04-13-2006, 01:36 PM
 
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As far as educating the parents on the Montessori Pedagogy, I agree it's super important.... if they don't understand it they won't appreciate it as much nor will they be able to incorporate some of it in their home environment. Where I worked we had parent night once a month where we met in small groups in the classroom and then as a whole and did a ton of Montessori education including ideas of how to work with the child at home.
I think maybe some M teachers do not explain to parents say the ideas behind the work cause it may sound confusing to somd?! I'm not sure but the training is very extensive (I'm speaking about AMI as that is my experience) and some things are not as simple as say oh he is developing his hand eye coordination.. or such... everything is so specific and while it makes perfect sense when you have the complete picture, I can see how it may be confusing to explain and understand if you only are given a piece of the information.
I hear you, but I think even those extremely simple explanations would be enough for parents. Saying something develops fine motor skills (i.e. the sewing cards) and helps to prepare the hand for writing would be very interesting to parents. But I think the teacher would need to be able to "translate" Montessori-ese into contemporary language that parents are familiar with. Talking about the "normalized child" and the "myelin sheath" is confusing to parents, even though the teachers thought they were helping to educate the parents.
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#18 of 52 Old 04-13-2006, 01:44 PM
 
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I hear you, but I think even those extremely simple explanations would be enough for parents. Saying something develops fine motor skills (i.e. the sewing cards) and helps to prepare the hand for writing would be very interesting to parents. But I think the teacher would need to be able to "translate" Montessori-ese into contemporary language that parents are familiar with. Talking about the "normalized child" and the "myelin sheath" is confusing to parents, even though the teachers thought they were helping to educate the parents.
yeah totally, and I agree it's important... I don't think that's too much to ask. We had daily sheets that were sent home with toileting, eating, as well as activities... I believe the groups were like gross motor, fine motor, social/emotional skills, cognitive, language... something like that. Anyways then I would list the work or my observations for each child under the appropriate category.. though many things fall into more than one. It was a simpler way of looking at things. My dd's school did not do anything like this though, but where I worked it was required because of early head-start but it was definitely a nice tool to communicate to parents with. I've only had experience working in this M program so I really don't know how and why other teacher's do what they do... I guess I didn't feel left out when my dd attended M school but I can see how parents not trained in Montessori could easily feel that way.

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#19 of 52 Old 04-13-2006, 02:51 PM
 
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Hi all!
Since I have a daughter in a Children's House and also work in another, I understand how frustrating it is to want to know about the child's day and only hear "nothing" when asked "what did you do this morning?" Of course, I know that she was probably involved in many different activities and that at her age, she just can't rattle off a list of her activities for me. Sometimes, she tells me if she had a new lesson, or what other children are doing, or if there was a special story.
Having been in the directress' position, I can say that there is really no way I could have written down everything that the children were involved in at the end of the work cycle. They are just too busy! However, we encourage parent involvement and interaction in many ways. First of all, all parents are encouraged to observe before the interview so that they can see the class in action. Then, there is the interview where many questions are answered. At the beginning of the year, we have a parent meeting the 2nd week of school where we explain procedures and answer any questions. Since we have a very active parent body, there are many many opportunities for social events at the school (probably at least 1 every month). The parents can schedule an observation to come in and see for themselves what their child is doing. (Unfortunately, in All-Day class both parents are usually working so find it hard to fit this in). We also offer Parent Education nights about 4 times a year to go into a more indepth explanation of the materials or theory. In the AMI course, it is required to develop the Parent Ed. nights during the training, so each Directress is expected to carry this through. There is also the Fall/Spring Conferences so that each parent can sit down with the Directress and discuss the child's specific lessons and what s/he has been involved with. I always invited parents to join us to celebrate the child's birthday, cultural holidays, to read books or to go on nature walks.
Again, you will find different levels of parental involvement and interaction by school.
I agree wholeheartedly with above that the more the parents understand, the better it is all around. While I really don't feel that any of these concepts are hard for most adult to understand, it can be very challenging for the person who is doing the explaining. I felt that I was well prepared because of the quality of training that I received.

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#20 of 52 Old 04-14-2006, 04:52 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I saw this on another thread and wanted to post it here:

Quote:
I never thought I'd say this...but I think he might do better in a traditional, public school learning environment than in a Montessori one. He goes to a good Montessori school now, but he hasn't come away from it with a strong foundation in "academic work" as they call it. His teacher has basically told me, in so many words, that when it comes to school work, he has no strong points, and that he is "behind" in all academic areas. I flat out asked if she could name any strengths, and she paused and then said that he's very social. We like the teacher, and she has the reputation of being one of the very best Montessori guides in the city, but I don't know why it is this way. He's a bright kid, but she thinks he's dyslexic or has some type of LD, but we called to get him evaluated and all of the places we have called say he's too young to be tested.

I post all of this because, while I like the Montessori method and will be putting my daughter in the same school, I have heard that it's not for everyone and I never believed them. Now I kind of do. I think he's had a good experience, and it's provided him a nurturing environment, so that's great. But academically, I had higher hopes and this didn't turn out to be the case.
I have seen this before too. I know at least two women who put their son into Montessori and had the same experience - he just was not learning anything. In each case, the child was put in French public kindergarten, and within one week was spelling his name, drawing things instead of just scribbling, singing the alphabet. The mothers then went on and on about how Montessori was "just not for my son". I wonder if this has any truth?

I think in some cases it is the parent who misunderstands Montessori. For example, with respect to art, my understanding is that in a Montessori classroom, a child would not be told what to draw or how to draw a happy face, stick man, etc. but would be left to scribble until he came up with a drawing on his own. And I have read that scribbling is actually GOOD before the age of 6 - the more the better , because it trains for writing, and that telling a child under 6 what and how to draw just stifles imagination. For example, if you show a child how to draw a happy face or a stick man, that is the only thing he will draw from then on until you show him something else. And the child comes out being no better an artist than the child who continues to scribble until a later age.

A parent might think that her child was not really progressing in Montessori because he was not drawing stick men and happy faces and other thing that, in a public school, he would learn how to do. In French public kindergarten, children are told EXACTLY what they must draw during the art time and they are not allowed to deviate!

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#21 of 52 Old 04-14-2006, 11:00 AM
 
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A parent might think that her child was not really progressing in Montessori because he was not drawing stick men and happy faces and other thing that, in a public school, he would learn how to do. In French public kindergarten, children are told EXACTLY what they must draw during the art time and they are not allowed to deviate!
I think the point you're getting at is very important, if I understand you correctly. There are schools where you can get your child to "achieve" more quickly, but that doesn't make it a great education. Often those children that start "achieving" more quickly in another program lose their love of learning more quickly, too.
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#22 of 52 Old 01-13-2008, 12:57 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???
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#23 of 52 Old 01-13-2008, 12:26 PM
 
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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???
Cursive is actually easier to teach because it is fluid motions. That's one of those example, to me, about how some education mentalities get fixed in our minds ("printing, then cursive") and then it's hard to understand.

I do think the particular Montessori is important as is the personality of the child. When I toured Montessoris some seemed really cold, and then ours is a little warmer - still not what I would call "perky" though. But as a child who was over praised and now a person who still struggles a bit to find my own way in many ways, I kind of prefer that to cheerleading (not that it is that black and white, but if I have to err on one side, that's the side I would err on.)

My son really does like praise, and I worried a bit, but he pretty quickly learned to perceive the warmth underneath the calmness. If he hadn't though we probably would have looked for something else. I think I've said in other threads that the quiet was important to us because he gets overloaded with sound pretty quickly.

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#24 of 52 Old 01-13-2008, 03:56 PM
 
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Yes, this is true here too. I think I have an advantage though, as I've been in M school before. So I can ask specific questions. You can figure out what they're doing based upon the papers they bring home (we had a couple of months of metal inset work), if you've been in M or have been a teacher.

There's an open house once a year where the children show the parents their favorite works; but outside of that, I don't see a lot of outreach towards parents regarding work and the pedagogy. It's too bad, because I think many of the parents are in the dark about Montessori and would possibly keep their children in through the elementary years if they understood more about the overall approach. I think the language also creates a barrier - there seems to be a lot of montessori-specific terminology that is not explained adequately to parents.
For some reason, I find this to be slightly disturbing. I always know what's going on in DDs room because I'm in there at least once a week for different things. Her teacher also sends home weekly or biweekly updates on what's going on in the class. I think your experience may have more to do with the specific teacher or school than Montessori. The way I've been indoctrinated into Montessori stresses parent involvement in the school and the classroom and there are parents going in and out all day long.

I guess I never realized how widely M experiences can vary. DD goes to a public, racially and ethnically diverse school and we love it. Even the faculty is diverse. DDs teacher is from Spain via Puerto Rico and the IA is African American. The intern last semester was from Korea. The teacher next door is from South America and also has an African American IA.

I guess my family is really, really lucky.
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#25 of 52 Old 01-13-2008, 03:58 PM
 
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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???
That sounds like the school, not M b/c the 3-6ers at our school are so lively and social and often do works together and help each other. 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.
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#26 of 52 Old 01-13-2008, 05:21 PM
 
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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.
That's one of the great things about Montessori, though. There is no pressure for the individual student to start cursive before he or she is ready. Since kids in a Montessori classroom work with so many materials designed to help them develop fine motor skills, they tend to be ready sooner than we think they would be.

One of the great things about introducing cursive when the child is ready for it rather than at some arbitrary age is that it seems like more of a natural progression to them. The school my daughter is at now is less strictly Montessori than her old one. Here, the kids don't learn cursive until grade five and she is seeing her classmates get really frustrated with having to completely change to writing after years and years of printing. For her, when she learned cursive in casa it was just a new challenge that followed naturally from mastering printing.
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For her, when she learned cursive in casa it was just a new challenge that followed naturally from mastering printing.
That makes perfect sense. I just think it would be quite an advanced young one doing cursive! My DD is a rather bright bulb and at 6, she still prints her "S" backwards! I can't imagine trying cursive with her just yet.
Your DD must be quite a young lady!
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Well, her handwriting is nicer than mine

I'm not absolutely sure about this but I don't think her printing was 100% perfect all the time before she started cursive. It's more likely that she moved on to cursive while she was still perfecting her printing and the two developed alongside each other for a while. It's a bit like math. She still makes the occasional multiplication error but that didn't stop her from moving on to simple algebra once she was ready
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#29 of 52 Old 01-16-2008, 10:38 AM
 
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That makes perfect sense. I just think it would be quite an advanced young one doing cursive! My DD is a rather bright bulb and at 6, she still prints her "S" backwards! I can't imagine trying cursive with her just yet.
Your DD must be quite a young lady!

I'm certainly not M trained, but my understanding about the cursive, is that it is sort of self-correcting in its own way, because your finger/pen/pencil rarely leaves the paper or sandpaper letter or whatever. So... in a nutshell it is more difficult to make errors like writing your S backwards, b/c that isn't how the hand flows. Gosh, I don't know if I'm making sense. It has been so long since I wrote in strictly cursive (probably others as well). I've been practicing my letters though, and was amazed at how far down a word or sentence you get before lifting your finger or pen - made me realize how the cursive letters would actually be easier for my little guy to learn - it is all one motion and connects to the letter before..

As for the introduction of them, again it varies by school, but in ours, they may start sandpaper letters in their first year, but more likely not till their 2nd. They'll spend a long time just tracing out the letters in various ways. It is building up rote memory skills of how the letters feel/look/flow.

Anyway, back to the OP! I am a real fan of M school and had even decided before birth that if we could afford it my kids would go. My sis is a private school SLD teacher who read me the riot act about choosing a learning style before even meeting my kids! It turned out alright for us (so far - he is 3!) but I now see her point. Works for some, not for others and that is ok...
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I'm certainly not M trained, but my understanding about the cursive, is that it is sort of self-correcting in its own way, because your finger/pen/pencil rarely leaves the paper or sandpaper letter or whatever. So... in a nutshell it is more difficult to make errors like writing your S backwards, b/c that isn't how the hand flows. Gosh, I don't know if I'm making sense. It has been so long since I wrote in strictly cursive (probably others as well). I've been practicing my letters though, and was amazed at how far down a word or sentence you get before lifting your finger or pen - made me realize how the cursive letters would actually be easier for my little guy to learn - it is all one motion and connects to the letter before..
That's what I found when I was working in special ed. It may not apply to all kids but for a number of kids cursive is easier; less to coordinate in terms of lifting the pen, setting it down in the right spot, etc. Probably a difference between a visual learner and a tactile learner.

~ Mum to Emily, March 12-16 2004, Noah, born Aug 2005, Liam, born January 2011, and wife to Carl since 1994. ~
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