Does age of classmates matter (preschool - "semi-Montessori")? - Mothering Forums
Forum Jump: 
 
Thread Tools
#1 of 11 Old 01-24-2014, 10:22 AM - Thread Starter
 
PeachBaby's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 267
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

DS just made 5 and is already the oldest of his classmates who are from 2 to 4 years old (he is 9 months older than the next oldest kid).  In a few months, all the current 3 and 4 year olds will be leaving.  Only the 2-almost 3- year old will be staying.  It is a very small private school (last year had only 7 in the class, this year there are only 5 of them).

 

The other children are leaving to go to regular Japanese kindergarten.  The only reason the 2 year old is staying is because of his personality.  His mama likes that this small international school is currently in the process of transitioning into an (internationally approved) Montessori school since her son would not thrive well in the typical Japanese group-style learning atmosphere.  The director of the preschool has been taking training, and is looking to hire a Montessori trained teacher and train a current teacher.  But in the meantime, it is not a fully Montessori style environment.

 

When new kids enter this preschool, they are 2-1/2 to 3 years old.

 

I originally sent DS here when he was 3 years old because 1) it is English speaking (we live in Japan) and 2) for DS to get socialization.

 

But socializing with much younger kids for the past year (and now for the upcoming year  - starts in April) is not what I had expected for him. (When DS first entered the preschool, there were a mix of kids and he was not the oldest). 

 

Should I be worried? Would you be worried?

 

 

 

 

PeachBaby is offline  
#2 of 11 Old 01-24-2014, 04:04 PM
 
whatsnextmom's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 1,928
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 12 Post(s)

Yes and no. If a class is built to be multi-age then I think it can be very valuable! However, if EVERYONE else is 2 to 3 years younger then a 5-year-old isn't really getting a true multi-age montessori environment. I used to teach preschool. End of the year, as a teacher, you were ready for those 5-year-olds to head to kindergarten because they just didn't fit in the program as nicely as the 3 to 4-year-olds. Suddenly, playground time is all about superheros and princesses and adventure pretend play. Fantastic and fun and totally age appropriate! Just sort of hard when you've also got 2 year olds sharing the same space. If your son is developmentally on target, his intellectual needs will be different and unless there are some accelerated 3-year-olds in the mix, he might be doing a lot of his learning on his own.

 

Of course, I don't know your son. I don't know where he is in his development or how he handles being the oldest. Some kids like it. Some prefer to work on their own. Some enjoy the leadership. Personally, for my own kids, I'd being looking for a more balanced class.


Married mom of two, DD 17 and DS 13.
whatsnextmom is offline  
#3 of 11 Old 01-25-2014, 06:49 AM
 
Peony's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 25,342
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)

Our previous preschool was from ages 3-5. One classroom, one teacher, usually 10 kids. I had two kids of various ages rotate through there. One year DD1 was 5 all year, the oldest in the class, with much younger children. It did not work out well. Had there been another couple kids her age, it probably would be a different story. instead, with her being the oldest, and every else younger, all the activities were geared towards the youngest age and she was bored stiff all year. 

 

Having been there myself, I would also look for a different school that has a little more balanced age ratio. 


There is no way to happiness, happiness is the way.
Peony is online now  
#4 of 11 Old 01-25-2014, 03:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
PeachBaby's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 267
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

I appreciate your sharing of your experiences and thoughts.

 

DH doesn't like the situation either but he says it's too expensive to switch preschools at this point and it is better for him to go to a preschool than to not go.

 

Since any new kids that may enter the preschool are likely to be much younger, and the probability is that there will be only roughly about a half dozen kids total at most, should I decrease the amount of time he spends there?  He originally started at 3 days a week for 4 hours.  Later I increased it to 5 hours, and then to 4 days a week.  Should I go back to 3 days a week for 4 hours?

 

Or should I ask the director if DS can do more of the Montessori style, individually focused, age-appropriate challenging work should the other kids gather to do non-Montessori style/group activities?

PeachBaby is offline  
#5 of 11 Old 02-02-2014, 09:57 AM
 
moominmamma's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: In the middle of nowhere, at the centre of everything.
Posts: 5,604
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 42 Post(s)

At five is he not Kindergarten age already for this upcoming year? Or when would you plan to send him to Kindergarten? Or will this next year at his current school, if he stays, take the place of his KG year? What are your plans beyond this next year? Will he go to a Japanese school, or move to an international school of some sort? Does he speak Japanese? Is he learning English or Japanese pre-reading skills, or both, or neither? Are you planning to remain in Japan for the medium or long term? 

 

If you are primarily interested in some out-of-home socialization for him, I think that fewer hours would be sufficient, and that would allow you more time to meet his educational needs out of school. I think 3-4 hours three times a week is plenty of group-based socializing for a young child. Socially you may find that in the upcoming year he is more drawn to the teachers than the other children, as much-younger children will be more into parallel play than true interactive playing *with* others ... but I still think it could be valuable for him to have that social exposure, and the experience of leadership, if you can't find it elsewhere, particularly as you seem to want an English-speaking environment for this. I think it's unlikely that in a brand-new transitioning preschool you'll get much in the way of an optimal Montessori academic experience for such an outlier of a 5-year-old, but his academic needs could be easily served out of school.

 

But of course all of this will be affected by your longer-term plans for his language and academic learning. Japanese or English, traditional or alternative, that sort of thing.

 

Miranda


Mountain mama to three great kids and one great grown-up

moominmamma is online now  
#6 of 11 Old 02-02-2014, 12:41 PM
 
Linda on the move's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: basking in the sunshine
Posts: 10,546
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 29 Post(s)

Why not put him in Japanese kinder? You might check and see if any of the schools have special program for kids who aren't fluent. We have them in the states (I work in a school with lot of immigrant children and we call it our English Language Learners Program) and they have them in Montreal for kids who don't speak French and it is called Newcomers.


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

Linda on the move is online now  
#7 of 11 Old 02-03-2014, 08:14 AM
 
sageowl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Oregon
Posts: 631
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Japan is totally different than the US. If you go to Japanese school it's totally assumes that you come to school already speaking Japanese. They don't really make provisions for foreigners, hence the number of international schools to fill this need.

You don't say how long you're going to live in Japan, but it may be time to consider looking into international schools, if you are leaning towards a long term multilingual environment. I'm assuming you aren't eligible to use the DoDEA system.
sageowl is offline  
#8 of 11 Old 02-03-2014, 08:37 AM
 
moominmamma's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: In the middle of nowhere, at the centre of everything.
Posts: 5,604
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 42 Post(s)

Looking at past threads it looks like PeachBaby has been in Japan for at least 3-4 years already. I think the decision about how many hours to attend preschool and in what environment and with what age-range depends very much on future school plans and the language path the child is on. 

 

Miranda


Mountain mama to three great kids and one great grown-up

moominmamma is online now  
#9 of 11 Old 02-04-2014, 08:12 AM - Thread Starter
 
PeachBaby's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 267
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

DS will have one more year (April to March) to attend this preschool (we are sending him here in place of Japanese kindergarten). In any case, it is too late for us now to apply for the public kindergartens and DH says we can't afford the private ones.

 

Regular international schools for now and in the future are also out of our budget. The only reason we can send him to this very tiny int'l school is because we are getting a huge discount. So I had enrolled him here because I had wanted to take advantage of this to give DS 1) an English speaking and 2) stimulating environment 3) with socialization with peers his age.

 

Regarding the 3 points above:

 

1) I've been told children that enter the Japanese school system start to prefer speaking Japanese and not really want to use their English anymore, so to counteract that, I wanted him to have a solid foundation of English during his early years (not just at home with me, but to see that other people and kids use English in Japan as well).

 

2) I had initially been considering homeschooling, but lack of support and coming to the realization that it is not what I do well AT ALL, I believe he is better off going to a school, rather than staying at home with me all day. Most likely, a year from now he will be entering Japanese elementary school, not a problem since he speaks both languages. We plan to be in Japan for probably at least a decade if not more.

 

3) If we plan to send him to elementary school next year (where he will be with kids his age), does it matter if this year he does without same age classmates? Again!?! A year is a long time in the life of a child! Do you think it is intellectually disadvantageous for him in a school learning environment?

 

P.S.  What is a DoDEA system?

PeachBaby is offline  
#10 of 11 Old 02-04-2014, 06:33 PM
 
sageowl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Oregon
Posts: 631
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

"In any case, it is too late for us now to apply for the public kindergartens and DH says we can't afford the private ones."

 

Oh dear.  That's problematic then, and really kinda means you'll likely have to think outside the box.  You're right Japanese public school is pretty much an all-day every day in Japanese experience, so it will not encourage him to maintain use of English.  Sure they learn some English as an elective in school but it's pretty "academic" and doesn't typically result in much of any skill in actually USING English in real life.  No matter what, it's probably going to be an interesting situation for him.

 

"Regular international schools for now and in the future are also out of our budget."

 

This makes me wonder what you will do for schooling beyond kindergarten if you do.

 

"I wanted him to have a solid foundation of English during his early years"

 

Since you aren't planning on homeschooling yourself, you may want to consider some outside of the box options like hiring a language tutor (there's probably someone there teaching conversational English at one of those conversation schools that could use a side job), or starting some kind of co-op schooling group if there's other parents in a similar situation.  Japanese expats in the US have "Saturday schools", maybe other expats do this in your area.  Otherwise, you'll be stuck with the less desirable option of starting first grade in Japanese public school without him having had the social experience of having attended kindergarten.  In the US, that would not be a big deal at all, but I suspect that in Japan that might be very different!  (Unfortunately I don't know anyone who was in that particular stage of schooling)

 

What is a DoDEA system?"

 

DoDEA is the agency that provides education to military dependents stationed overseas.  Since you're going to be there long term, I'm operating on the assumption that you are NOT currently working for DoD, and therefore ineligible to take advantage of this.

sageowl is offline  
#11 of 11 Old 02-04-2014, 08:43 PM
 
Linda on the move's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: basking in the sunshine
Posts: 10,546
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 29 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by PeachBaby View Post

 

1) I've been told children that enter the Japanese school system start to prefer speaking Japanese and not really want to use their English anymore, so to counteract that, I wanted him to have a solid foundation of English during his early years (not just at home with me, but to see that other people and kids use English in Japan as well).

 

I work in a school with a large population of language learners, and what I see is that for the kids for whom their home language is relevant outside of school, it is different than for kids for whom their home language in not relevant out side of school. For us, that means that Spanish speaking children who attend church in Spanish and who regularly socialize with friends in Spanish it stays relevant, but for children who speak a true minority language and don't have a community of speakers of that language, it doesn't. I doubt that one extra year of non-Japanese school will have as much impact as what his community is outside of of school for the next 10 years.

 

2) I had initially been considering homeschooling, but lack of support and coming to the realization that it is not what I do well AT ALL, I believe he is better off going to a school, rather than staying at home with me all day. Most likely, a year from now he will be entering Japanese elementary school, not a problem since he speaks both languages. We plan to be in Japan for probably at least a decade if not more.

 

There is a difference between being able to speak a language a little bit conversational, and being able to function in it academically. The younger the child and the higher their IQ the less of an issue it is, but I think the decision to skip K and go straight to first makes it more likely that it will cause extra challenge for him. (I know MANY children who "speak" English and cannot function in an English classroom. They can't read or write it, they don't understand the idioms, the grammar isn't intuitive, etc).

 

3) If we plan to send him to elementary school next year (where he will be with kids his age), does it matter if this year he does without same age classmates? Again!?! A year is a long time in the life of a child! Do you think it is intellectually disadvantageous for him in a school learning environment?

 

He will be with kids his age who all had a very similar K experience and have had more instruction in the target language. None the less, in your post, it make is sound like you don't have any other options. You really can't enroll him in public school at this point? You say your DH feels you can't afford private school, but what do you think? The way you phrase it implies that you feel that you can afford it but that your DH doesn't want to pay for it, or that you really don't know if you can afford it or not and are just going by his opinion.

 

 

P.S.  What is a DoDEA system?


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

Linda on the move is online now  
Reply

Tags
School

Quick Reply
Message:
Drag and Drop File Upload
Drag files here to attach!
Upload Progress: 0
Options

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the Mothering Forums forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.
User Name:
If you do not want to register, fill this field only and the name will be used as user name for your post.
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.
Password:
Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.
Email Address:

Log-in

Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.



User Tag List

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page


Forum Jump: 

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off