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#1 of 25 Old 10-16-2008, 11:44 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Ds's school had conferences today. Dh couldn't attend, so it was just me again, fighting my case as always. When I had spoken to the director a couple of weeks ago, she said they'd try him out upstairs during October (for those who don't remember, they actually split by age/maturity, and upstairs are the older kids). She'd also said that he'd probably end up moving up mid-year, but she was willing to do this earlier trial in October. Anyway, his teacher was obviously "breaking the news gently" to me that ds was going to be downstairs all year. She said his social skills are just not what they should be to be upstairs - he wiggles in his chair, doesn't focus for extended periods on all of his works (though many that are up his alley, he does), and she said he disturbs other people's works.

I understand that M really wants to see kids developing these skills, and I really want him to, also. But no one will listen to me when I say that HE NEEDS OLDER MODELS! He is a wiggly kid - always has been. He is still just learning how the works work, and he's never been one to focus on things that are not interesting to him or that are hard for him. Of course they should continue to work toward that. But why can't they work on that in another environment. She said that she brings works downstairs for him(harder works than they normally have available downstairs - because he's ready for many of those!), particularly maths. She tried to say that kids who move upstairs to the higher lessons too early get really frustrated because they don't get it, but I really have the impression that because of a few gaps in social skills/maturity, they are underestimating his abilities. I am pretty sure he'd enjoy learning the more in-depth lessons. Then again, I don't know because they won't try!

I don't know if we can afford another place, but I'm about ready to re-investigate the others where there isn't this problem. I have told them repeatedly that one of the main attractions of M was the multi-age classrooms, where he would get to see how older kids act and learn, because in more traditional schools he has been stuck with kids younger than him also and nobody would give him a chance - even if his academics are beyond the class he's in. At least she's bringing more advanced works down - but shouldn't that say more to his readiness? In a more traditional M classroom, there wouldn't be a question of maturity.

Am I over-reacting?
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#2 of 25 Old 10-17-2008, 12:10 AM
 
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Hmmm. I don't think you're over reacting, but I do think that you might be underestimating the good, quality change that will come this year, as your son builds confidence and begins to believe more fully in his own efficacy. I don't think I quite get the progression of your school, but I know that sometimes between the 6-9 class and the 9-12 class there can be a bit of a lag. In our M school, some really ready kids might move up early (or hang back or whatever) based on what the community needs for this time.

In a true M classroom, it wouldn't matter what setting he was in, really, he would be able to move into whatever level of work he needed, and it sounds like they are providing him that.

I can imagine though, that the type of progression that we parents really identify with is the classroom progressions--he's moving up into the next class, exciting new stuff--but really the important work of Montessori is much more global a progression and if, perhaps, your son isn't quite ready for that, waiting might be good.

Is he a fairly new M student? If so, it took my 4th grader about 6 months or so to find his groove after having been traditionally schooled.

I am sorry you feel so worried and sad about this, and I hope it all works out for the best. Our conferences are tomorrow, interestingly enough.
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#3 of 25 Old 10-17-2008, 01:31 AM
 
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There's another thread going about the lack of multi-age grouping. It is interesting to see what people are running into and that this is a problem..and it's one I did not expect to be happening so much in Montessori schools.

The younger children are with the older children to see role models. The older children are there to be role models. It's just how it SHOULD work.
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#4 of 25 Old 10-17-2008, 05:54 AM - Thread Starter
 
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The younger children are with the older children to see role models. The older children are there to be role models. It's just how it SHOULD work.
Right. That's what I thought and part of what drew me to Montessori. I feel like, if he's ready to learn the new things, then can't some of that social readiness come or be taught in another environment (the older one)? And in my mind, shouldn't it?? When he was in traditional school, I contended as I still do, that some kids will learn from the kids around them; so if he's in a room with children who are immature, how is he going to learn the skills?? I get that eventually a developmental stage will take hold, but I also know that being around those models can help him understand a little more about how he SHOULD be acting.

For those not familiar with this situation, ds is 4 and in the pre-primary classroom. Because of the school layout (an old home) and space limitations, they classes are divided into two groups. And because they used to (until this year - the change unbeknownst to me) have a kindergarten group, they ended up splitting the rooms by ages, since the director and upstairs teacher is the kdg teacher. So there is the dowstairs that has 2.5 and 3 year olds, with three immature 4 year olds, and the upstairs with mostly 4 and 5 year olds and a few mature late 3 year olds.

Also, I'm wondering in most Montessori 3-6 rooms, how many "worksheets" are usually given to students? I was a little surprised to see them (for drawing lines, counting...) - I was just thinking it was all manipulatives, but I guess the line drawing needs to be a pencil to paper activity.
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#5 of 25 Old 10-17-2008, 06:16 AM
 
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Unfortunately, anyone can call themselves Montessori, and it's up to parents to decide if the program works for them, or is Montessori-enough for them. It sounds like this situation is not ideal in Montessori terms, but they are making do with the space they have and have created their guidelines and policies around that. Probably many would like their child in the older class, so they have to stick to their guidelines in order to not set a precedent? It is a very odd configuration, and concerning that the very basic Montessori rule of 3-year age span is not being followed, but it's the program they've created.
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#6 of 25 Old 10-17-2008, 06:32 AM - Thread Starter
 
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It is a very odd configuration, and concerning that the very basic Montessori rule of 3-year age span is not being followed, but it's the program they've created.
Yes, and if we'd been told up-front that he would be with the younger kids longterm, I wouldn't have chosen this place. We were always told that he'd be spending his time upstairs. When we visited and he worked for an hour, we were upstairs. They told me at the beginning of the year that he'd spend a few weeks downstairs to get acclimated (they already knew him a little from a week he spent there over the summer). Then, they said mid-year. And now they are saying all year. I don't feel like anyone has been up-front with me, and I don't feel like anyone will take my concerns or my own observations seriously.

I know I'm preaching to the choir, but there aren't very many people in my real world who understand why I'm so frustrated.
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#7 of 25 Old 10-17-2008, 09:41 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Rose-Roget View Post
Also, I'm wondering in most Montessori 3-6 rooms, how many "worksheets" are usually given to students? I was a little surprised to see them (for drawing lines, counting...) - I was just thinking it was all manipulatives, but I guess the line drawing needs to be a pencil to paper activity.
My son is 3, in a 3-6 classroom. He brings home about one painting, a few arts & crafts activities, one or two of those "prick-out" activities, a couple of shapes/colouring things, and maybe one worksheet a week.

He is starting to read and can write almost all his letters, so it's not that he's not worksheet ready I'm assuming. The vast majority of his work seems to be moveable type, beads, etc.

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#8 of 25 Old 10-17-2008, 12:11 PM
 
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Rose, I totally agree with you. First of all, they promised that they would be upstairs and they aren't delivering that. It sounds to me like they just wanted to get you in to fill the slot and get the tuition money. Does this school currently have a waiting list? Secondly, I wouldn't like my 4 year old being the oldest in her class. In our school, my 4 year old is somewhere in the middle. There are a few 5 and 6 year olds in her class even though they do have a new kindy program this year and there are also some kids who just turned 3. I think they bring some of the older kids into the class sometimes just for that purpose - role modeling. I think our school distruct had a few days off this week and noticed some of the before and after school kids that go to public kindy/1st grade were back in the classroom.

However, my 3 year old is the oldest in her class and I'm fine with that. She is new to the structure and Montessori and the teacher that she is with is just absolutely amazing. She is responding very well in that class and the teacher tells me that she absolutely LOVES to be the oldest and role model for the younger kids. However, next year when my 4 year old moves to the kindy program my 3 year old will move into the older classroom where she will probably be right in the middle of the age group. I think having older and younger students is very important. Give it a few more months. If you are not seeing your son progress by the end of the year, I would be looking for a new school.

What is your gut feeling about the teachers there? Our teachers report to me almost daily what my kids worked on that day and are now starting to write down what jobs they are working on and I'm getting a monthly report. Maybe you could ask them for that? Maybe you could spend about 10 or 15 minutes there before class starts in the morning? I find out a *LOT* of information by doing that. I just kinda hang out and chit chat with the chef, the other teachers, mosey over to the infant room (I have a friend with a DD there, so I like to go say hi), stop by the directors office and say hello. I don't intrude and I can take a hint if they are rushing around and busy, but most times they are very pleasant and have time to say hello. I just make my presence known around there and show a lot of interest and ask a lot of questions.

Keep us posted!!

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#9 of 25 Old 10-17-2008, 04:33 PM
 
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I think they bring some of the older kids into the class sometimes just for that purpose - role modeling. I think our school distruct had a few days off this week and noticed some of the before and after school kids that go to public kindy/1st grade were back in the classroom.
Hmmm....it hadn't occurred to me before that my DD's school's "Alumni Days" were for just this purpose. (i.e. older role models) Each "alum" can visit 1 or 2 times the following year and spend the day for free. Any more times and the parents have to pay. These days logically coincide with the days the public school is not in session. Some alum go into the Charter Montessori 4-year-old/Kindergarten program and some go into regular public/private kindergarten programs.
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#10 of 25 Old 10-17-2008, 07:09 PM
 
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Yes, and if we'd been told up-front that he would be with the younger kids longterm, I wouldn't have chosen this place.
I would (as I did in a similar thread) say this is the biggest problem. How can someone choose what they feel is the best situation for thier child if they aren't told up front what to expect.

My DS is actually in a class that has a relatively narrow age range. This is b/c of the way lisencing for age ranges work in our state, basically if the school meets requirements to have 3 yo then they can also take 2 1/2 and a few 2 yo deppending on the set up. It's basically a cross between a Motessori toddler program and a 3-6 class with a little regular play based preschool stuff thrown in, but it's all 2 yo. He will go to a traditional Montessori 3-6 class next year. I looked at many schools and chose this one for a wide variety of reasons, and though it would have been nice if he was in a multiage room, there were reasons this school worked better for him.

The big thing is that I knew ahead of time that DS wouldn't be in the 3-6 class till next year when he actually will be 3 yo. I'd have been very upset if they had not been up front about that since it was something that I considered a negative for this school. However, I weighed it against the other factors in my decision and decided that spending one year in a toddler transition program would probably work for DS since he still had access to the full range of material and the 3-6 kids are right next door and he sees them in the bathroom, etc. (It has worked out really well for him BTW.)

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#11 of 25 Old 10-17-2008, 08:54 PM
 
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I think you are not over-reacting. I would probably go back to them and say that you were promised a spot in the upper room by no later than mid-year, and if that isn't happening, they can refund your tuition. If they make noises, you just tell thenm YOU are NOT the one "breaking the contract" , THEY are, by not putting him where you were told he was going to go, so THEY ARE responsible for refunding the money. Make big noises about fraud and deceptive practices.

due to teh way the age grouping is in our state, my dd will, in her final year of each classroom, be THE oldest child in the class. The cutoff is august, her birthday is beginning of sept....so within the first 2 weeks of school, she turns a year older than she is on paper. So essentially, she will be 4-5-6 in the 3-6 room, whereas most other kis are 3-4-5.
Dd has had ZERO worksheets. There is no official homework for the 3-4's, but they get the "kinder" 5-6 homework sent home with them with the "suggestion" to complete it. It has ALL been experiential so far (read a boook together, take a nature walk together, make letter shapes in coffee grounds, etc)

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#12 of 25 Old 10-17-2008, 09:15 PM
 
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Also, I'm wondering in most Montessori 3-6 rooms, how many "worksheets" are usually given to students? I was a little surprised to see them (for drawing lines, counting...) - I was just thinking it was all manipulatives, but I guess the line drawing needs to be a pencil to paper activity.
My ds and dd go to a M school here - this is my ds's second year and my dd's first. I have never seen a worksheet come home from them. They have paper available for metal insets, gluing, painting (and writing, of course) and strips of paper with printed lines on them for cutting, but I've never seen a traditional worksheet there. Oh, they also have some pre-printed pictures w/ the printed name of the picture, too - my ds has been making books from these, but they're still not really worksheets.

One thing I really like about our school is that the wall between the 3-6's and the 6-9's is not a true wall; so quite often kids from the younger class go over to the older and vice versa. It really has a nice flow to it. I think if I were in your shoes I'd ask for a trial period in the "upper" room. I would think they would at least let him try it - if it doesn't work out, what's the worst that could happen?

In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you." Buddha

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#13 of 25 Old 10-17-2008, 09:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I think if I were in your shoes I'd ask for a trial period in the "upper" room. I would think they would at least let him try it - if it doesn't work out, what's the worst that could happen?
Yeah, I talked to the director a few weeks ago, and she told me that they would give him a trial during October (although I didn't clarify what "trial" meant to her versus me). So far, this hasn't happened, and I really doubt, from the way the classroom teacher was talking, that it will happen this month.

I thank everyone for indulging me in yet another dialogue about this. It helps to get other perspectives from Montessori-minded people.

I've started to investigate other options in the area, but there are waiting lists at this point, of course. I am frustrated with myself for listeing to my head and not following my gut initially. While the other school had pros and cons, too, I don't think we would have felt deceived or like they were underestimating/judging my son based on his social readiness, rather than his abilities.
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#14 of 25 Old 10-18-2008, 10:59 AM
 
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I feel ya mama.

Your ds's school sounds a lot like mine, old converted house, and the older kids upstairs!

My SIL had issues with her ds's school too. They wanted to hold him back from kindergarten and she had to fight them on it and then the next year they wanted to hold him back from 1st grade too. Academically, he was at his the '"right" level but they too said that it was his social skills and that he was too immature too move up. The whole holding him back from kindy thing really threw me off b/c they're all in the same room anyway. And he was academically ready to do the work then..??

I really love the Montessori philosophy, I just wish there were more "rules" for the schools to follow. At best, we look for AMI or AMS certification, we speak to the administrators, we observe a classroom and then when all seems right, we sign a contract that basically says we have to pay in full even if we switch things up on you.
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#15 of 25 Old 10-18-2008, 10:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My ds and dd go to a M school here - this is my ds's second year and my dd's first. I have never seen a worksheet come home from them.
Well, the "worksheets" I saw were just a couple of examples at conferences. Both that they showed me at that time were writing oriented - drawing lines between dots repeatedly, or drawing the rays from the sun. Another one she showed me involved counting objects in a line and writing or placing a number beside it. She said he wouldn't do those, but he was fine counting the beads or tokens and corresponding with the numbers. I just thought it was interesting because I didn't expect to see so much paper at this age. Never has a worksheet been sent home as homework, and I don't think it's a routine in the classroom. Maybe it's mostly for the writing practice... ?
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#16 of 25 Old 10-19-2008, 12:03 PM
 
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My 4 year old used to bring home about a worksheet a week in her old class. In this new class I have yet to see one. Maybe it's just the teacher? I didn't mind her doing them because she actually enjoys it. It was mostly tracing letters and drawing lines to matchings things (i.e. sunglasses to sun and mittens to snowman, etc.). I think that it was mainly work that was done while she was waiting for me to pick her up. She was the only half day child and while the others were settling down to go to sleep the teacher would give her something to do (instead of a job which might distract some of the kids).

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#17 of 25 Old 10-19-2008, 09:32 PM
 
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Having some worksheets is OK. The teacher really has to make sure the children are getting a real education, though, and not just doing worksheets.
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#18 of 25 Old 10-19-2008, 09:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Okay, so it sounds like the worksheet deal is on par with normal. I was just surprised to see them, but as I reflected and ready the responses, I see that they aren't excessive.

So now I ask, does Montessori have more stringent standards for social maturity than more traditional settings do? Most of the people around me cite my current concerns as reasons against Montessori ("He's not a robot," "They don't want kids to have their own personalities; they just want them to all behave the same," etc.). I try to defend and say that it seems like it's the setup of the particular school, not Montessori in and of itself. Would you agree that this is true, or do they possibly have different standards of behavior?
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#19 of 25 Old 10-20-2008, 01:32 AM
 
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So now I ask, does Montessori have more stringent standards for social maturity than more traditional settings do?
We see a higher level of social maturity in the classroom because we model it, teach it, and help the students when they are having trouble. There are some basic rules that pretty much are true in all Montessori classes:

--We do not interrupt another person's work.
--We do not shout across the room.
--We walk in the classroom.
--We walk around children's work rugs, as opposed to stepping on them.

A well run classroom will have a teacher that steps in and helps the child follow the rules right away when they see the child running, interrupting work, stepping on a rug, etc.

Another thing to consider is that Montessori builds up concentration and awareness more finely than a regular education tends to do.

I constantly hear teachers ask something along the lines of, "How do you teach children to say 'please' and 'thank you?'" Then I see other teachers reply with long lesson plans. We do it in Montessori by the teacher modeling that behavior and pointing out to students when to use it. We might do a short presentation on it, but nothing long and elaborate. The grace and courtesy are short lessons, but something we reinforce every day and every minute of the day. So it becomes more natural and true.

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Most of the people around me cite my current concerns as reasons against Montessori ("He's not a robot," "They don't want kids to have their own personalities; they just want them to all behave the same," etc.).
I'm not familiar with where those ideas came from. They are certainly anti-Montessori ideas.

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I try to defend and say that it seems like it's the setup of the particular school, not Montessori in and of itself. Would you agree that this is true, or do they possibly have different standards of behavior?
I am not sure what you are witnessing. Can you explain further what you're observing and I might be able to find a better answer.
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#20 of 25 Old 10-20-2008, 09:45 AM
 
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Okay, so it sounds like the worksheet deal is on par with normal. I was just surprised to see them, but as I reflected and ready the responses, I see that they aren't excessive.

So now I ask, does Montessori have more stringent standards for social maturity than more traditional settings do? Most of the people around me cite my current concerns as reasons against Montessori ("He's not a robot," "They don't want kids to have their own personalities; they just want them to all behave the same," etc.). I try to defend and say that it seems like it's the setup of the particular school, not Montessori in and of itself. Would you agree that this is true, or do they possibly have different standards of behavior?
I've heard that too from a few people.

I'm sure there is a possibility that there are Montessoris that are into the robot-drone thing (although I wonder how this would work with real children).

But I generally think it comes from either people who have had ummm "motivated" (read: crazy) friends as parents who really do hope that Montessori will give their child a leg up on some uber-competitive world, and have gotten their ideas from that, or who just generally associate Montessori with (in the words of my own father) "some kind of [racial statement on his part] mind cram."

What I've observed in my son's class is that there are expectations around courtesy, but the way that it is taught (modeling, practical lessons) makes it easy for him to learn.

They're not an attempt to create a particular kind of kid, but they are a way of guiding the interactions so that all the kids have space to learn and grow. It's not a punitive system or even a modification system – it's just the flow of the day. Our school has very kind teachers, who were happy to hold my son when he needed it, etc. Even so he did have a period of adjustment when he was learning the way things worked and it was stressful - not a horrible, unsupported stress, but a learning kind of stress. We let him decompress at home a lot during that time. Now it's sort of second nature - and it's definitely not robotic.

My latest example was that I took him to a birthday party that had a wide range of ages of children attending, and an 8 year old was playing with a toy my son (3) was interested in.

My son went up to the 8 year old, crouched down and made eye contact, and asked "can I play with that with you?" I was kind of stunned, but it was clear to me that at his school that's the expectation. And it was really nice… not only because the boy happily said yes but because I could see that if my son were playing with/using materials at his school that his use of them would be respected. It went both ways.

Of course later my son put his hand into the birthday cake. Ha.

My son comes home with these pleasant manners, but he also comes home with fart jokes, you know?

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#21 of 25 Old 10-20-2008, 10:52 AM - Thread Starter
 
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We see a higher level of social maturity in the classroom because we model it, teach it, and help the students when they are having trouble. There are some basic rules that pretty much are true in all Montessori classes:

--We do not interrupt another person's work.
--We do not shout across the room.
--We walk in the classroom.
--We walk around children's work rugs, as opposed to stepping on them.

A well run classroom will have a teacher that steps in and helps the child follow the rules right away when they see the child running, interrupting work, stepping on a rug, etc.

Another thing to consider is that Montessori builds up concentration and awareness more finely than a regular education tends to do.

I constantly hear teachers ask something along the lines of, "How do you teach children to say 'please' and 'thank you?'" Then I see other teachers reply with long lesson plans. We do it in Montessori by the teacher modeling that behavior and pointing out to students when to use it. We might do a short presentation on it, but nothing long and elaborate. The grace and courtesy are short lessons, but something we reinforce every day and every minute of the day. So it becomes more natural and true.
Right, and I this is part of what drew me to M in the first place. It seems a lot more like the way I teach, and it holds to the expectations that I have for my own family.


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I'm not familiar with where those ideas came from. They are certainly anti-Montessori ideas.

I am not sure what you are witnessing. Can you explain further what you're observing and I might be able to find a better answer.

Those were ideas stated by non-Montessori people, of course. I guess what I meant was that in most schools these are expectations and they are guided and taught in environments with kids of different ages, some who have learned the skills, some who are still learning. While in this school, the younger and less mature kids are in one room and not allowed to move into a class with the older/more mature kids until they meet all of these standards...even though, nothing he does is age-inappropriate. He's learning, and he has some 4-yo boy impulse control at times. (On the other hand, he's among the most polite child there on a regular basis, always greeting his friends on the way in or out the door (who rarely greet back).) But how much is understood and accepted in Montessori about typical child development in terms of these things, even though they are always striving to teach the more mature behaviors?

Anyway, I don't know if I perceive things less tolerant because they push kids to learn these actions without the older models and in a sort of punitive (you stay downstairs until you can do these skills) sort of way. I also have the impression that the upstairs teacher is just intolerant of younger behaviors altogether (personality). I am nt expressing myself clearly. And it's probably not even an answer anyone else can give.

And another question: Downstairs, there is a lot of access to waterworks and less access to the higher level "academic" materials my son uses. When the teacher was citing reasons why he wasn't ready to go upstairs, she said, "He spends a lot of time at waterworks. That's just where he is developmentally and maturity-wise. He's not ready to go upstairs where they give more in-depth lessons." On my side, I think that liking to do something that's easy and calming is not the same as being at a younger level of development. Plus, water is fun for kids I also know that he can absorb a lot of information and is a very bright kid, and they have to bring works from downstairs to meet some of his academic needs. Without having specific information about the lessons and themes that they are going in-depth into, I wonder whether he is even bored. So I wonder (again) whether this sounds like a Montessori statement, and if so, could someone explain it to me better?

Thanks again. Since this is still all new to me, I need some guidance through the system and to keep myself in check.
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#22 of 25 Old 10-20-2008, 12:57 PM
 
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But how much is understood and accepted in Montessori about typical child development in terms of these things, even though they are always striving to teach the more mature behaviors?
This is a hard question to answer because your school is not a typical Montessori school, so it's hard to say what is typical to expect or understand. ;-). I think that's what you're asking though...how these things compare to a typical Montessori school and what are the typical expectations.

We have a word we use in Montessori that I don't like. I love the idea, but the word brings about a lot of confusion from those that don't understand Montessori. The word is "normalization." This is when a child has settled down in the classroom and is able to focus, concentrate, and work for a long period of time. We call it "normalization" because that time of focus, intent, and joy in learning is what we see as the child's "normal" state.

There are things that have to be happening for normalization to take place fully:

--A 3 year age group with strong leaders
--A teacher that pays attention to detail
--A great practical life area
--Freedom of choice within limits

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Anyway, I don't know if I perceive things less tolerant because they push kids to learn these actions without the older models and in a sort of punitive (you stay downstairs until you can do these skills) sort of way.
I don't know if it's quite punitive as much as it is deciding he's not ready to be upstairs. But...here's the big thing I disagree with in this (Sorry..skipping ahead. I will get back to your other statements):

Quote:
He's not ready to go upstairs where they give more in-depth lessons." On my side, I think that liking to do something that's easy and calming is not the same as being at a younger level of development. Plus, water is fun for kids I also know that he can absorb a lot of information and is a very bright kid, and they have to bring works from downstairs to meet some of his academic needs.
I'm not as concerned about what specific lessons he is being presented as much as I am concerned about this. Here's why.

You're trying to make a choice and the teacher is trying to make a choice about what works the child should be doing. In Montessori, the child should be the one making the choice - within limits.

My mom said something in a class one time that I'll never forget. She was talking about Erik Erikson's stages of development and how important choice is for a child of 3-6. Erikson's stage for this age group is the stage of initiative. They have to be able to make a choice and their choice has to be respected. She said if every person understood Erikson, every person would send their child to a Montessori school because it's all about giving the child the freedom to choose.

If they're given that opportunity anywhere, it should be in a Montessori classroom.

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I also have the impression that the upstairs teacher is just intolerant of younger behaviors altogether (personality). I am nt expressing myself clearly. And it's probably not even an answer anyone else can give.
Couldn't tell you either way.

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And another question: Downstairs, there is a lot of access to waterworks and less access to the higher level "academic" materials my son uses. When the teacher was citing reasons why he wasn't ready to go upstairs, she said, "He spends a lot of time at waterworks. That's just where he is developmentally and maturity-wise. He's not ready to go upstairs where they give more in-depth lessons."
The problem I see with that is that she seems to feel that water works are not academic.

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On my side, I think that liking to do something that's easy and calming is not the same as being at a younger level of development.
There's a great article I would love for you to read about this. I've recommended it to many people:
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/m...10/ai_n9314410

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Plus, water is fun for kids
:

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I also know that he can absorb a lot of information and is a very bright kid, and they have to bring works from downstairs to meet some of his academic needs. Without having specific information about the lessons and themes that they are going in-depth into, I wonder whether he is even bored. So I wonder (again) whether this sounds like a Montessori statement, and if so, could someone explain it to me better?
You'd have to observe to see if he is bored. But notice how you sort of contradicted yourself. Now water works are something he does when he's bored while a paragraph before, it is fun for kids. ;-)

I have a few thoughts to reply with on this:
--Be careful of judging whether a person is bored or not. I'm trained to observe by writing down specifically what I see. If a person is bored, what do you see that makes them bored?
Rather than, "He is bored, so he looked at someone else's work for 5 minutes," write down what you see that makes you think he was bored.

"Sammy is watching Billy's work with a smile on his face. When Billy is finished, Sammy looks at his work, takes a deep breath, and spends 5 minutes on one addition problem. He did not smile in that addition problem."

You may observe the class and find the exact opposite--maybe your son is in the ideal environment right now. He's truly enjoying what he is doing. He might wish he were upstairs, but you see this as a better fit for him now. It's hard to say until you observe (which I don't recall you saying you did, but I could be wrong).
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Thanks for the in-depth responses! I did contradict myself about the downstairs, or maybe I didn't express my thoughts clearly. I don't think that he's necessarily bored with the water works, specifically, but I also know that he thrives with in-depth information in lessons or themes (I'm thinking, for example, the theme for the month is "elephants" -- the downstairs group may learn the color and texture of the skin and where they live; whereas the upstairs group may learn what their habitat is, what they eat, their family units, and about endangered species). Since they are bringing works downstairs for him academically (like maths and reading), I understand that they are watching, to an extent, his academic skills. But they are also telling me that because he chooses waterworks, he's not ready for more in-depth themes/lessons and would just become frustrated, even though we have in-depth conversations on regular basis and he totally soaks up the information. I don't mind, personally, if he chooses waterworks, but I feel like there's a judgment that comes with it in the minds of the teachers. Not just, "He chose waterworks," but, "He chose waterworks, so he is not advanced enough to grasp higher level information." Maybe choosing waterworks is indicative of something I don't understand. At no point did the teacher say, "He chooses a lot of waterworks, but that's totally normal for a child adapting to the Montessori environment. He's not 'normalized' to the environment, and he's practicing skills that will serve him well as he continues his M education." (I just read the article Matt attached.) And why shouldn't students be able to have both - the opportunity for waterworks or to "polish the duck" AND in-depth lessons/themes? I know if traditional M settings, they can.

I should read Erikson. I studied him in college, but it's been a while since I've referenced him specifically.

No, I haven't observed since the day we toured. The school is not set up for good observation. There is no window or place for me to be inconspicuous - I basically have to be in the middle of the room. And if he sees me there, I will not get a clear representation of normalcy. Does that make sense? I would love the opportunity to observe, though, if I would get a clear understanding of the classes.

I put him on a couple of waiting lists in town, even though the chances are slim to none that he'll get in this year. I just feel like there are too many things that I'm uncomfortable about, even though this school has a very good reputation among parents and other schools in town. The director at one of the M's I visited today reiterated how Montessori our current teacher is and she was surprised when I told her that he wasn't allowed to move upstairs until he is writing better.
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#24 of 25 Old 10-20-2008, 05:43 PM
 
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I think what you're trying to say about the water works vs the more "advanced" stuff is that you want your DS to have access to both to choose from (as is typica in a M classroom.)


I like to watch TV, knit, read books, as well as many many other things but for this explanation just using 3 things keeps things simple. One could say watching TV is not a partcularly "advanced" thing to do, it doesn't take a lot of brain power. I also like to knit thi certainly takes more work on my part, so one could say it is more "advanced" than watching TV. However, I am limited in how much knitting I can do b/c my hands get tired. Finally I also like to read, but that takes quite a bit of work on my part (since I'm dyslexic it's more work for me than your average adult.) Sometimes I feel like putting in the effort and sometime I don't.

So quite often when given chance to watch TV I will take it, and on average I probably spend a bit more time watching TV than knitting of reading (not right now, for various reasons, but on average over the years.) It would be extremely unfair for someone to limit my access to knitting and deny me access to books, simply b/c I enjoy TV and they conclude that I am not "advanced" enough for books.



Most of why I chose M for my DS was b/c he could spend time doing more relaxed things like pouring when he just wanted to chill and relax and have fun, but he could do the pink tower when he felt like being challenged. It is his choice.

I didn't want DS pushed and forced to do academics till he resented them, but I also wanted him t have access to the academic stimulation he does clearly enjoy quite often.

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#25 of 25 Old 10-20-2008, 05:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I think what you're trying to say about the water works vs the more "advanced" stuff is that you want your DS to have access to both to choose from (as is typica in a M classroom.)

I like to watch TV, knit, read books, as well as many other things many other things but for this explanation just using 3 things keeps things simple. One could say watching TV is not a partcularly "advanced" thing to do, it doesn't take a lot of brain power. I also like to knit thi certainly takes more work on my part, so one could say it is more "advanced" than watching TV. However, I am limited in how much knitting I can do b/c my hands get tired. Finally I also like to read, but that takes quite a bit of work on my part (since I'm dyslexic it's more work for me than your average adult.) Sometimes I feel like putting in the effort and sometime I don't.

So quite often when given chance to watch TV I will take it, and on average I probably spend a bit more time watching TV than knitting of reading (not right now, for various reasons, but on average over the years.) It would be extremely unfair for someone to limit my access to knitting and deny me access to books, simply b/c I enjoy TV and they conclude that I am not "advanced" enough for books.

Most of why I chose M for my DS was b/c he could spend time doing more relaxed things like pouring when he just wanted to chill and relax and have fun, but he could do the pink tower when he felt like being challenged. It is his choice.

I didn't want DS pushed and forced to do academics till he resented them, but I also wanted him t have access to the academic stimulation he does clearly enjoy quite often.

Oh, thank you for getting it and putting into words what I couldn't!
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