I am at my wits end trying to decide on which school to send my younger son to! I would really appreciate some advice as I have to make a decision by Monday and have not clue what to do.
Basically, I can choose between two options: the local elementary school and the Montessori school his older brother attends which is about 15 miles away. I do have a space at the Montessori school but am unsure whether to take it or not.
I have been making lists of pros and cons but still don't know what to do. However, here are the main points:
Advantages of our local school:
- Friends: All his friends from preschool will go there and he really has several good friends that might end up in his class. If not, he will at least see them during recess. Also, the entire class will be made up with kids from the neighborhood so that meeting up after school to play etc. would be quite easy. In contrast, only very few kids from our town will attend the Montessori school and arranging anything with children from there will be quite difficult.
- Cost: While the Montessori school isn't extremely expensive it is still a significant amount and I would rather save this money if the experience there is no better than the one here in town.
- Convenience: He could walk to the local school in about 15 minutes and would be coming home around 11:30/12 several days a week in first and second grade. He could also attend after-school-care at his current nursery school (which has a program for school children) and I am sure he would enjoy this. If he goes to the Montessori school he will have to ride the bus vor about 40 minutes twice a day and won't be home before 2 pm on any day (only one bus). In addition, the bus ride is NOT pleasant (lots of fighting between the children). Also, I do not have a car and getting to the Montessori school for talks with the teacher, picking up a sick child etc. is VERY difficult and stressful.
Advantages of the Montessori school:
- To be honest, I am not as happy with the Montessori school's program as I had hoped when I sent my older son there. However, a lot of the problems we have had are connected to my older son's personality. My younger one is a very different child (very sociable, easy going etc.) and probably wouldn' t have any of the same problems.
- The Montessori schoold does have a much better teacher /child ratio (2 to 24 compared to 1 to 28) and does offer electives that the kids can choose. Also, they really do LOTS of really fun stuff (field trips, preparing shows, experiments, projects etc.). However, I am a bit worried that there is not enough time to work on the basics. Also, classes are quite loud (which would bother my younger son).
- No grades. Grades in public school here are quite competitive and usually cause quite a bit of stress starting in third grade. This does not apply to the Montessori school.
I know looking at the list it seems quite clear that the local school has more advantages. However, these are mostly organizational and don't weigh as heavily as the general happiness of my kids. The local school is not very progressive and there are bound to be many things I do not agree with.
There are several more aspects but this is already way long. Still, I would really appreciate some input as I just can't make up my mind.
So your other DS still is at the Montessori school? It sounded like you were thinking the montessori school wasn't a great fit for your oldest, if he is still there, are you thinking of making a switch for him, or how long does he have left there?
I'm just wondering that if you have two different children and two schools, how much of a PIA will that be on a daily basis for you. If your oldest isn't going to be there much longer then maybe it isn't worth doing montessori for this DS. It sounds like the local school is a good one. Would you have the option of going to montessori next year if you decide the local school wasn't for your family after a trial?
Yes, my older ds is still at the Montessori. It isn't a great fit but I am not sure the local school would be better (extremly perfectionistic, sensitive, emotional child). Second grade was pretty horrible, but third grade is going fairly well. He is doing MUCH better socially/emotionally now (something I wouldn't be as worried about with little brother anyway) but I am not sure whether he is performing up to his potential. I would leave him there for next year. After fourth grade I might keep him there (elementary school stops then here) but probably won't.
I honestly don't think having the two boys in different schools would be too bad organizationally. Older ds rides the bus, younger ds could walk. Having them come home at different times would probably be a plus. I would think that for me, having ds2 here in town would be the easier option.
Really the only advantages of the Montessori school would be having the two teachers (more individual attention), the more interesting "educational method" (electives, projects, etc.), the lack of grading, and the stronger emphasis on self-reliant, independent thinking. These are very important considerations for me but I am not certain how important they would be for ds2 who at the moment does quite well with structured preschool activities etc.
I don't think I could change if the public school didn't work out. First of all, it is difficult to get a space at the Montessori to start with. Secondly, they are a bit miffed that I am not sure of sending ds2 there even though ds1 is going so I don't think they would give us a second chance if we don't take this one.
I don't think the 2 teachers is all that great.My kids have 2 teachers in each of their M classes,and it seems like they spend far more time working on their own than with the teachers.And yes it is loud.Drives my ds nuts at times,but he is learning to not let it upset him.And even with 2 teachers there were still issues with behavior problems with some of the kids.You would think 2 teachers could handle it better so the entire class would not suffer for a year!
I think the public school sounds like a better fit for your younger son. I would give that a try first and if it did not work out then try the M school.
Not having grades is a plus but theM teachers still nag quite a bit about your kids work level and how fast(or slow) they are completing their daily work.They say kids can work at their own pace and get a lot of one on one,but I have not found that to be true.
Do the schools have the same vacations, same teacher workdays etc? That is the part that has driven some parents I know a little crazy.
Does the montessori really have so many students waiting that they are turning down kids? That's the opposite of the case here. Enrollments at private schools are way down because of the economy.
I honestly think the Montessori sounds like a PITA. I'd make my choice about the younger child separately from the older child. My kids have done different things -- at one point one was homeschooling and one was in school. I think that whenever possible, it's preferable to treat each child like an individual.
I'd try the local school and see what happens.
but everything has pros and cons
I'd probably choose the Montessori school because is "the" chance. If it doesn't work or the social issues are unworkable then you can withdraw and move to public. It would also be much easier to manage schedules with one school.
His relationships will survive since you all live locally. And he'll have the opportunity for my friends from his new school.
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