late introduction to Montessori - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 10-31-2008, 04:42 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi all - new member here. Have lots of questions.

My son is 6 and started in a Montessori classroom this school year.
He is in a Lower Elementary 1st,2rd,3rd grade class in a public school.

He hasn't been in Montessori before. We also have a teacher that has never taught Montessori before and is working on her training (and Masters) as she teaches this year.

We are having some trouble in completing as many activities as the teacher expects, not quite following the process, and being 'normalized'.

Are there any resources on adjusting to Montessori from traditional classroom?

Any advice? My son really likes the class, but the teacher doesn't seem to know how to show him how to do 'montessori' as the other children went through the 3-6 class, and he hasn't (I keep hearing 'the other children know what to do')

Thanks in advance!
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#2 of 6 Old 11-01-2008, 02:00 AM
 
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Both you and the teacher have to realize he's not going to be at that level for a while AND realize that it's OK that he is not at that level. It has really nothing to do with anything other than he has not spent 3 years familiarizing himself with the materials. He has to learn what 1, 10, 100, and 1000 are and what the cubes are. He has to learn about the bead cabinet. He has to learn about the moveable alphabet. He has to learn about the sensorial materials. He has likely never even seen any of the maps like we have in Montessori.

The reason the children know how to do the stamp game or the addition strip board is because they had it in 3-6. He has to learn what these materials are before he can use them.

My advice to the teacher would be to work on 3-6 lessons right now with the materials she does have in the classroom. Instead of using the golden beads to do 4 digit division, she needs to take a step back and give the 3 period lesson on what the one, ten, hundred, and thousand is. Rather than give a presentation on grammar symbols, she might need to go back and think about basic movable alphabet works.

Either way, realize you're playing "catch up" for 3 years of working with the Montessori materials. There is not going to be a quick, overnight success story. Just give it time and trust that your son will be fine. He will be
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#3 of 6 Old 11-01-2008, 11:18 AM
 
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Originally Posted by vaw View Post
We are having some trouble in completing as many activities as the teacher expects, not quite following the process, and being 'normalized'.
I often have children new to Montessori and they always "get it" eventually. Sometimes they need explicit lessons on how to choose work: check your work plan, walk around looking at the shelves, think of recent lessons you could practice, observe what other kids are doing, think of things you enjoy doing. (This is actually something I often talk about with my whole class...they're not quite as motivated as those 3-6ers sometimes!)

If that's not enough, sitting together for a few minutes in the morning to make plan can help, or it can be as structured as helping him make a choice, and then ask him to check back in with the teacher when that work is done to help make the next choice. There are many levels between those two options like daily check lists, an idea list that he can keep in his cubby, etc. It's really her job to figure out what he needs (that's the core of Montessori.)

Temporary structures can put in place until he starts feeling "the groove" as I like to call it! Maybe you could talk to her and share that you think he might need a little more structure which could be decreased as he starts accomplishing more each day. He's going to learn great time-management skills.

Even children who have been in M. since 3 sometimes need added structure in the elementary years because the academic expectations increase so much.

It sounds like the teacher is super busy. She's probably incredibly tired and overwhelmed, so be gentle with her!

Oh one last thing, sometimes I ask parents to talk to their children in the morning about what they feel like working on that day, not in a pressured way, but just to get some ideas going so when they walk in the classroom they might have an idea which direction they want to head. A low-pressure conference with you, your child, and the teacher might help to clarify expectations and systems.
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#4 of 6 Old 11-01-2008, 08:59 PM
 
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three previous years in a 3-6 class. My first grader is just now getting the structure imposed by the weekly workplan as opposed to doing a lesson or two of choice and then focus on a longterm research project. This is her 4th year in Montessori. My older 2 were a mixed bag. One from her first day knew and completely understood her responsibilities while her brother needed quite a bit of guidance.

I dont think its anything to be worried about that your son is still getting into the groove. There are several things he is familiarizing himself with and hopefully he is able to thoroughly enjoy the process. It does eventually all fall into place with patience and the fun of discovery.
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#5 of 6 Old 11-06-2008, 12:18 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the comments. I will try to remain patient. Hopefully the teacher will as well.

I can hear her and my son's frustration when they talk about school. She is frustrated he is at the level the other kids are, and he is frustrated he doesn't understand everything.

My biggest concern is 1- when Alex says he asks questions, the teacher says "you know that' 'I already told you that' etc - I plan to talk to her about this, as he can't learn if you don't answer his questions.

Also - there are several activities on his work plan (and have been there for weeks) that he hasn't been introduced to. I don't understand what that is accomplishing. Why would she continually put work that he can't do (until its introduced) on his work plan?
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#6 of 6 Old 11-08-2008, 02:27 AM
 
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Originally Posted by vaw View Post
Thanks for the comments. I will try to remain patient. Hopefully the teacher will as well.

I can hear her and my son's frustration when they talk about school. She is frustrated he is at the level the other kids are, and he is frustrated he doesn't understand everything.

My biggest concern is 1- when Alex says he asks questions, the teacher says "you know that' 'I already told you that' etc - I plan to talk to her about this, as he can't learn if you don't answer his questions.

Also - there are several activities on his work plan (and have been there for weeks) that he hasn't been introduced to. I don't understand what that is accomplishing. Why would she continually put work that he can't do (until its introduced) on his work plan?
It just sounds like inexperience. Be sure to look at this as a team - both of you helping your son. She needs to know what he's frustrated about and saying at home and you two can develop some way to help him.
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