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#1 of 7 Old 02-20-2008, 06:32 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I would love some input on preschools for next year! My son is 4. Last year I looked at bilingual preschools for him, but all that I found wanted the kids to go 5 days a week. I thought that would be too much for him (he would have started at age 3 after only having a once-a-week parent-participation school before that). So right now he is in a local play-based school. He seems very comfortable there and I am really excited because he usually has a tough time with transitions and doesn't always participate in play classes, etc.

This year I found a bilingual montessori that has the option of 3, 4 or 5 days a week. I was thinking of moving him over for next fall, but I'm hesitating. I know he likes his current school and feels comfortable there. I'm afraid that if he doesn't like the new school he might just shut down. I became more worried when I signed him up for soccer and he wouldn't participate at all. So I feel like it might not work to move him, but on the other hand it would be a great opportunity for him to learn another language. The school is bilingual Mandarin/English and since I don't speak Mandarin very well at all, the school can offer him something that I can't. I visited and the teachers seemed very nice, so they may be able to help him adjust.

The other issue is that the school is much more academic than his current school. (Personally I don't think preschools should put any emphasis on academics). He would be joining the preK class, so he might be behind if they are expecting him to write letters, etc. I don't want him to feel like he is behind or not as capable. Since he is starting now, he would only get one year of bilingual school until he moves on to public kinder.

I am also considering sending my daughter to the school. Her personality is much more outgoing and she really wants to go to preschool! But I'm not sure if 3 days a week is too much for a 2 year old (She would turn 3 a few months after class started). I know it wouldn't have been right for my son, but her personality is so different it is hard to tell!

Anyway, I hope some of this makes sense! I have the flu and it is hard to think straight.

I should add that we also have a tutor come and play with the kids while speaking Mandarin. Right now she is coming once a week, but we could do it more often if they kids aren't going to a bilingual school. So they will be getting Mandarin exposure in any case. I'm just trying to figure out how to help them become bilingual while still attending to their emotional needs/first educational experiences.
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#2 of 7 Old 02-22-2008, 05:21 PM
 
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Oooh, I would LOVE to send my daughter to a German-English preschool! I am so jealous. Good luck!
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#3 of 7 Old 02-22-2008, 07:30 PM
 
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Dd went to a one-way immersion preschool. The more they go, the better they acquire the language. 3 years later... she's fluent. It's worth it. In her case, her immersion school goes through 12th grade (it's an International Baccalaureate school from 3 yo program through grade 12). In her school, the whole curriculum is in the target language. Anything less than immersion is nearly useless at this age.

FTR - dd didn't have any problems going 5 days/week at 3.5 years old. She thrived. Every child is different, though, of course.
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#4 of 7 Old 02-25-2008, 11:40 AM
 
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Just a few points.

Do you know anything about Montessori? Is this a AMI or AMS-certified Montessori school? The Montessori method does not "push" academics. It is not play-based either so if you are looking for play-based, Montessori is not for your child. Montessori is based on children "working", either with technical materials designed or inspired by Maria Montessori or in practical life activities. There are no toys in a Montessori classroom. It is 100% at the child's pace so you don't need to worry that he will be pushed into doing something that is too "academic". That being said, many Montessori children learn to read and are even doing adding, subtracting and multiplying at age 4.

Secondly, I do not personally believe that the Montessori method works well if it is not five days a week. The method is based on routine. I just don't think a child gets as much out of it when it is for fewer days, especially if it is half day rather than full day.

Thirdly, Montessori is based on mixed age. You said that your son would be in a "pre-kindergarten" class but this seems strange to me given that a Montessori classroom is age 3 to 6 by definition - or it is not Montessori. The mixed age element is a fundamental component. The method does not work without it.

If it is a true Montessori school and bilingual, then I would go for it, 5 days a week.

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#5 of 7 Old 02-26-2008, 04:20 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I have to admit that I didn't give the montessori aspect that much thought. I'm not sure how truly montessori they are. They definitely have the classes broken up by age - a 2 year old class, a 3 year old class, a 4 year old class. Actually, it would be awesome if they did have multiple age classes and both kids could go together. I would have no worries about sending them 5 days if they were together.

When I visited, I did notice that they didn't have toys or that many manipulatives around. I was surprised that they didn't have a play kitchen or anything. I wondered about them being academic because the 2 year old class had student work displayed that included bits of paper glued inside the shapes of letters and Chinese characters. So it seems like they are at least teaching letters/characters at age 2. But it isn't like they were doing worksheets or had desks or anything.

Maybe play-based would be better for dd, though then she wouldn't get the Mandarin. Whenever we drop of ds at preschool, she seems most interested in things like play-doh, puzzles, painting and things like that.
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#6 of 7 Old 02-27-2008, 09:42 AM
 
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Originally Posted by HipGal View Post
I have to admit that I didn't give the montessori aspect that much thought. I'm not sure how truly montessori they are. They definitely have the classes broken up by age - a 2 year old class, a 3 year old class, a 4 year old class. Actually, it would be awesome if they did have multiple age classes and both kids could go together. I would have no worries about sending them 5 days if they were together.

When I visited, I did notice that they didn't have toys or that many manipulatives around. I was surprised that they didn't have a play kitchen or anything. I wondered about them being academic because the 2 year old class had student work displayed that included bits of paper glued inside the shapes of letters and Chinese characters. So it seems like they are at least teaching letters/characters at age 2. But it isn't like they were doing worksheets or had desks or anything.

Maybe play-based would be better for dd, though then she wouldn't get the Mandarin. Whenever we drop of ds at preschool, she seems most interested in things like play-doh, puzzles, painting and things like that.
Montessori is very different from play-based. You should definitely read up on it before putting your child there. True Montessori can separate the 2-year olds because they are too little but must have mixed age 3 to 6, otherwise they can only call themselves "montessori-inspired". Montessori materials are 100 percent manipulative and sensorial. That is the essence of Montessori. But there are no real toys. The closest thing you would get to a toy is maybe a puzzle or some blocks to build a tower. Definitely no play kitchen but sometimes there is a real , child-sized kitchen to cook real bread, etc. Montessori does not do fake. Reality is what counts.

I really would not even bother with a bilingual school unless he goes 5 days a week. A child needs at least 24 hours per week of exposure to a language to get fluent in it. Anything less and he might get passively bilingual (fluent comprehension) at best.

Roman Goddess, mom to J (August 2004) and J (April 2009).    h20homebirth.gif signcirc1.gif
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#7 of 7 Old 02-27-2008, 01:37 PM
 
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My ds has been in an immersion preschool since he was an infant - but it is because I work full time.

I think even a few days a week will help with learning the other language, especially since you are boosting that at home.

I think you need to evaluate your goals for your children first. Are you looking for them to be fully bilingual? written and verbal? just verbal? Do you want them to be proficient? conversational? These are questions that will help you create your plans.

Ds's school is reggio emilia inspired but not certified (yet). We are very lucky.

Like a pp said, montessori can mean a whole range of things and you should talk to the director and find out what it means to this particular school and see what you think about it and how it will work for your ds and dd.

I know that there are many public schools in california that are bilingual or immersion - some are charter schools and some are not - do you have options like that for public school later on?

I don't agree that only doing it full time so they can become fluent faster is the only way to go. There is a lot to be said for hearing the sounds and learning to understand another language even if it isn't full time that helps children when they are older if they try to learn more and become fluent. There are just some sounds that if you don't learn to make or hear when you are young it is very hard to learn to make them or hear them as an adult. My aunt, for instance, is almost fluent in Italian but she cannot hear the tt sound. I do think that any exposure for kids is good, especially if you are augmenting it at home.
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