French Immersion or Montessori? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 22 Old 09-05-2011, 09:07 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi ladies! I'm new to this forum.

Forgive me if this has already been asked, but I don't have a lot of time to read through all the threads.

 

I have the option of putting my 5 year old in either French Immersion or Montessori Kindergarten starting tomorrow! The Montessori option just opened up. Both are good schools and go to grade 5. I'm very torn, but leaning towards FI, because I really want my kids to have a 2nd language. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated!


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#2 of 22 Old 09-05-2011, 09:17 AM
 
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I'm jealous! I speak French fluently and haven't been able to teach my kids any French (they aren't very receptive to it coming from me). So I would love to have the option of a FI school. I'm also a big fan of montessori education so it's a tough call. Are they both equally good schools?  Do you hear good things about both of them? What happens if you start the FI school and it doesn't work out for your dd would you be able to switch to the montessori school? 

 

I think I would be more inclined to pick the FI just b/c the earlier they learn a foreign language the easier it is for them to pick it up. 

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#3 of 22 Old 09-05-2011, 09:22 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for your input. Both are good schools, and the FI school also has English classes, so they move them to English if French isn't working out.

The Montessori is a lottery, so if I say no, I've given up my spot. I could do Montessori k-5, then put her into late immersion in grade 6, but my fear is that she won't want to, and I've also heard that sometimes Montessori kids have a hard time going into regular structured classrooms later on.


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#4 of 22 Old 09-05-2011, 09:33 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chloebelle View Post

Thanks for your input. Both are good schools, and the FI school also has English classes, so they move them to English if French isn't working out.

The Montessori is a lottery, so if I say no, I've given up my spot. I could do Montessori k-5, then put her into late immersion in grade 6, but my fear is that she won't want to, and I've also heard that sometimes Montessori kids have a hard time going into regular structured classrooms later on.


Transitioning from montessori to regular schools depends on the kid and the school (if they work on transitioning/preparing them for regular school). But if the FI school has an English option then I, personally, would go with that one. 

 

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#5 of 22 Old 09-05-2011, 04:19 PM
 
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Did you have a chance to visit both schools and get a feel for them? Because *type* of school aside, I think what the staff are like and how the school is run is more important.

 

But if they both feel equally warm and fuzzy and yet well organized and together to you, I think I'd go with French. Lovely as Montessori is, there something really special about learning a second language so young.

 

And I think a lot of us envy that you have two such GREAT options. I don't think you can go wrong!


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#6 of 22 Old 09-05-2011, 05:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I do feel very blessed to have such great options! I live in a wonderful district.

 

I'm leaning towards French, BUT I do feel sad to turn down such a great opportunity with the Montessori. This mommy stuff is tough.

 

Thanks for the input.


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#7 of 22 Old 09-05-2011, 06:18 PM
 
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I'm a bit biased because I am a Montessori teacher, but I work in a school that also has French Immersion. I would caution against the French Immersion unless you know without a doubt that your child does not have any learning disabilities. If you feel that academics will be one of your child's strengths, then go for it. Coming from the French teachers I work with, there are too many children in the program who struggle academically (and would probably do so no matter what program they are in). Adding a new language on top of their struggles only makes things more difficult for them. These children usually end up being weak in English and French. Perhaps they would find a little more success if they were able to focus on a single language. 

 

Late French Immersion is an excellent option for self-motivated children, and Montessori tends nurture just that! It is very common for a significant number of Montessori students from my school to go to Late French Immersion and I am not aware of any who have had an unusually difficult time transitioning from Montessori to the regular program after elementary. They do just fine. 

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#8 of 22 Old 09-05-2011, 07:37 PM
 
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The French immersion schools in our county tend to be very, very structured, high expectations academically/behaviorally and rather inflexible. I can't say that ALL French immersion is like this but it is a prominent trait in the schools here. We opted for Spanish Immersion for my DS who is a little quirky, gifted, mildly dyslexic, disorganized and overly social. He has thrived there. 

 

Montessori isn't for all either but you have a better feel for what your kid needs than I would.

 

 


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#9 of 22 Old 09-05-2011, 07:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WantRice View Post

I'm a bit biased because I am a Montessori teacher, but I work in a school that also has French Immersion. I would caution against the French Immersion unless you know without a doubt that your child does not have any learning disabilities. If you feel that academics will be one of your child's strengths, then go for it. Coming from the French teachers I work with, there are too many children in the program who struggle academically (and would probably do so no matter what program they are in). Adding a new language on top of their struggles only makes things more difficult for them. These children usually end up being weak in English and French. Perhaps they would find a little more success if they were able to focus on a single language. 

 

Late French Immersion is an excellent option for self-motivated children, and Montessori tends nurture just that! It is very common for a significant number of Montessori students from my school to go to Late French Immersion and I am not aware of any who have had an unusually difficult time transitioning from Montessori to the regular program after elementary. They do just fine. 


I appreciate your input! I think she's very smart and does not have any learning disabilities. She knows how to count to about 100, recognizes her number and letters, can do addition using her fingers, can write her name and some other words. She knew colours and letters, etc. at a very young age.

I do agree that many of the kids who are put into FI don't belong there. I've certainly had that fear, although I'm certain she's bright enough. I also think she'd do great in a Montessori program ((sigh)). It's the 2nd language that gets me. 2 great schools, and 2 great programs...But at the end of one of them is knowing another language fluently. That's such a gift.

 


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#10 of 22 Old 09-05-2011, 07:49 PM
 
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My kids have had  wonderful experience in FI. They homeschooled for the primary years and that made a pretty easy transition into FI. One is now in high school and he was just telling me yesterday how glad he is to be in FI. He likes the extra stimulation of doing half of his classes in French and knowing that he is fluent. His class sizes have always been smaller than average and that has benefited him too. 

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#11 of 22 Old 09-06-2011, 01:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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That's good to know! We went to the FI school today. I hope it's the right decision!

 

I'm curious, what are the typical class sizes where your kids go to school? Our kindergarten class is 22.

 

 


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#12 of 22 Old 09-06-2011, 01:25 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chloebelle View Post

That's good to know! We went to the FI school today. I hope it's the right decision!

 

I'm curious, what are the typical class sizes where your kids go to school? Our kindergarten class is 22.

 

 


Congrats on your school choice.... it certainly is nice to have choices! My kids schools pretty much stayed at 20 until 4th grade when it jumps to 30. There was one crazy year that my eldest had DD 38 kids in her 4th grade class but at least in our district, after 33 kids, the teacher qualifies for a full time aide. 22 sounds about right.

 

Just a little tip, be prepared for one really tired kiddo this first month. Foreign Language immersion is exhausting as it requires so much concentration the first few weeks just to figure out what your teacher is saying! She'll adapt but might be a little cranky in the beginning.

 


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#13 of 22 Old 09-06-2011, 03:26 PM
 
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Just a little tip, be prepared for one really tired kiddo this first month. Foreign Language immersion is exhausting as it requires so much concentration the first few weeks just to figure out what your teacher is saying! She'll adapt but might be a little cranky in the beginning.

 


 

I think starting full time school is exhausting no matter what you chose. My kids homeschooled until they were 10 and 12, and then started at a traditional school. They were really shot at the end of the day. It's a lot to adjust to. Trust that the exhaustion is just a phase. It will pass.


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#14 of 22 Old 09-06-2011, 03:52 PM
 
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I think starting full time school is exhausting no matter what you chose. My kids homeschooled until they were 10 and 12, and then started at a traditional school. They were really shot at the end of the day. It's a lot to adjust to. Trust that the exhaustion is just a phase. It will pass.

 

Yes, but particularly so in immersion schools. I've witnessed the difference first hand. My DS even went to K full-day English and never seemed remotely tired after school. We were warned by the immersion school that 1st grade in Spanish would be different and it absolutely was. 6 hours is long for a little one but add that you are pretty much playing charades non-stop the first few weeks and it's just mentally exhausting.

 


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#15 of 22 Old 09-07-2011, 07:39 PM
 
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My ds is n grade 10 and has about 24 students in his French classes and about 28-30 in his English class. dd1 is in grade 8 and their are 12 in her class. dd2 is in grade 6 in a class of 14 students.

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#16 of 22 Old 09-07-2011, 07:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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She's only gone one hour two days in a row, and she's already exhausted, lol!!! I think it's all the excitement, but she's going to bed half an hour early tonight because she's really grumpy. It's full day Kindergarten here, so starting next week, she will be in for 6 hours every day. I cannot imagine how tired she will be!

 

 


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#17 of 22 Old 09-07-2011, 08:00 PM
 
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my DD is in Spanish immersion kindergarten, 1/2 day. she is eating like never before. we are just truly amazed and impressed at her appetite. until she started SI kindy, she would hardly eat; now she comes home asking for food and chows down. i also have her in an English speaking pre-K for afternoon enrichment, and at the end of 5 hours of being in school... yes, my little energizer bunny is falling asleep in the car.


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#18 of 22 Old 05-23-2014, 08:41 AM
 
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Hi, I am a mother who is facing the exact same problem right now- French Immersion or Montessori? So I want to know how is your daughter doing at the FI right now? How fluent is her French? And are there any downsides/pitfalls by sending her to a French Immersion school? 

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#19 of 22 Old 05-23-2014, 09:12 AM - Thread Starter
 
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She's doing great! As a matter of fact, I now have 2 kids in FI, as my youngest is in Kindergarten. Both are doing really well. My eldest is in grade 2, and pretty fluent. She is reading French at a really high level. My youngest is learning very quickly, and loving it. I'm glad I made this choice, as they now have a 2nd language, and this is all just "normal" for them!


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#20 of 22 Old 05-23-2014, 09:40 AM
 
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Thanks so much for the input. Could you also tell me how long did your kids adapt to the French immersion school? I suspect it will take longer than an English speaking school since they would have no clue what is being said to them in the beginning? And do you speak French to them at all? And how well is their English reading level? I am really scared that by putting my daughter in a FI, I would inevitably be putting her English in jeopardy. 

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#21 of 22 Old 05-23-2014, 10:29 AM
 
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My oldest started FI in grade 4 and it took him the first term to really adjust. He did fine but it was challenging for him. The other two adjusted just fine.

They are in high school now and fully fluent and bilingual and have strong English skills as well. Studies show that over the long term FI students perform as well or better in English than their standard curriculum peers.
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#22 of 22 Old 06-02-2014, 04:10 PM
 
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French can be done

Hey. French Immersion isn't available in my area, but my husband is French (I'm American, fluent in French now) and we've raised our daughter bilingual very intentionally. She's about to wrap up her kinder year in a public school program where she is there three days a week getting standard public curriculum, and on Wednesdays and Fridays she does work at home and attends field trips. Her papa does French-language workbooks with her for her homeschool, I do English.

I suggest when choosing any kindergarten, go simply sit in the class during a normal day for the all the places you are considering. That was most helpful to me; I could just feel a 'no' naturally that way. Be on the alert for overly rigid teaching in a French classroom, which is the norm in France and pops up in French programs we've visited with our daughter where someone is coming from a French background in setting up the class. Memorizing, reciting in front of the class, learning cursive early, longer class hours...that would be some signs of that going on.

For the two languages, YES my daughter is doing fine being bilingual, and YES there is a cost to her having two words for everything, two sounds for every letter. "I" and "E" and "J" and "G" are really difficult in particular, for example, although she's now got them nailed. I would expect your child to be totally drained and possibly not super stoked for several months at first, not coming from a bilingual background.

Know, deep in your spirit, how much you value your child speaking both. Any parent could agree it sounds cool to speak two languages, but the next time you are up at 2am feel out how anchored it feels for you, REALLY. It is genuine, ongoing work. Respect the work it will take your kid, and you, by being crystal clear you stand behind your gut feeling of going for it.

If you go for it, intentionally seek out other families who speak French, and make connections with other FI students so your child is surrounded by children also absorbing that language. This is the most useful advice I ever got in encouraging a language to be really used.

As far as Montessori, it's two different life priorities for your child. Go sit and hang out in the Montessori class, and the French one, and go with your gut. My daughter attended Montessori, and it turned out not to be a fit for her reserved, independent personality with the one-on-one teacher emphasis for learning how to use the lesson materials in the classroom. She's deeply happy and well-suited to her 10-kid classroom where everyone is taught all together.

Hope it all works out!
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