I'm currently thinking about sending ds to a Montessori preschool, and scanning through the archives, it seems as if some kids adapt very well into this environment while others do not.
On that note, for those who have tried a Montessori school, what personality traits do you think your child has that determined whether a Montessori environment "fit" him/her?
Thanks for any insight.
hi indigo mama--
not sure where all those montessori mamas are this week! just wanted to acknowledge your post--let's see if some montessori experts arrive!
Don't count me as any kind of expert at all but wanted to add my two cents.
My kids' Grammy was a co-op preschool teacher for 20 years. She is not a big fan of Montessori - reasoning being that it is not big on socialization and in Grammy's opinion, that is a big part of what preschool is about.
My dd1 went to co-op preschool when she was three (twice a week, 2 1/2 hours a day). It was wonderful! When she was four we had to move her just a few weeks into the school year. Not much was available and we looked (another friend and I - she moved her child too) at anything that had openings. Her son loved a Montessori they looked at so we came to check it out. While her son thought it was wonderful, my daughter hated it! Told me so (in front of the teacher - so embarrassing! I think her exact words were "this is a bad school - I don't choose it!") When I called Grammy that night, she was not surprised that friend's son liked it and my daughter did not. She said she could have told me that from knowing their personalities. My dd is very social, likes to play with other kids (not just near them but with them). Montessori has the coolest toys for sure - and I like how they have the kids do things (carry the tray, etc.) for themselves. But I don't like how they stress "it is your work, he can't help you (i.e. play with you)". Made my daughter nuts. Friend's son ended up going there for two years and loved it all. It really depends on the personality of your child. If I were you, I would take my child there to observe for a portion of the day to see how it works out. It was crystal clear to both my friend and I (even though we came to different decisions) after seeing our kids in that environment.
Good luck making your decision.
I actually went yesterday to check out the place... I guess I didn't realize how "serene" everything is.
My gut instinct says ds definitely won't fit in, even though there is definitely a lot of concepts I like about it. I know my first instinct was to start yelling, running around, and messing things up. How grown up is that!
I love that impulse! I'd be right there with you, making a wonderful mess. I work in Headstart classrooms a lot, and I love the beautiful messes they make, with shaving cream, peanut butter, etc. When else can little kids do that kind of thing?
well, I will describe my child and tell you that Montessori fits my child perfectly.
Maria Montessori's work was initially intended for special education kids. It was her vision for the needs of the child to be respected as a priority while a learning environment invited individuality! I can imagine how it must have helped special needs kids, and it is just a dream for kids with high levels of individuality on the entire spectrum.
My girl is 7. 1st "grade'. They do group classes, so it is a mix of K-2nd.
DD is dramatic, highly emotional, imaginative, cocky and intuitive.
When given a box of 'words" ( a little shoe, a spool and a spoon) she will create a novel about these items rather than just write the words. This is encouraged and there is no 'format', only goals.
I love our Montessori school. I love that there is all wood, no plastic, no overhead lighting, sitting on the floor, gardening, diverse culture and team teaching and peer grouping rather than grades. It is highly academic although there seems to be no pressure on that. The kids are eager to get to the next level!
I have 2 sons in Montessori. It's the only school they have ever known. We have been there for 5 years now. Anyway, socialization is very important, especially for pre-school, and that's exactly why I enrolled them there. My kids 'work' with other kids 90% if the time. They help those who need help, and get help when they need it. They sometimes actually help teach lessons.
They eat together, play together, 'work" (learn) together. They are free to move about the room and to work with other children.
Montessori pre school is terrific because the whole day is not spent on learning the alphabet. The children don't even know they are learning. Montessori calls is work, but my children think they are playing.
My youngest is now in 1st grade and already multiplys and reads at a 2/3 grade level.
I can't imagine any other kind of education.
I will say that I do see children within the classroom that have more difficulty due to the fact that some children have a harder time being in charge. This 'freedom' is sometimes too much to handle. But for the most part, I see that children that have been exposed to Montessori since pre school, adapt better than those that come late into the program.
But it is a matter of what you feel is right for you and your family. You MUST use your gut reaction when you visit. But if you are not sure, maybe you can let your son go for a week or so, and see how he likes it.
My ds attends a wonderful montessori preschool. The students are all very considerate of one another, (this impresses me.) During class, students are encouraged to help each other and learn from one another. They have freedom to choose any job they desire, and there are so many jobs available.
I've noticed ds taking an interest in everyday things that children older than him are not capable of doing on their own. i.e. he likes to prepare his own snack when he's hungry and fold and puts his own clothes away.
The children that attend the school have confidence in their ideas and respect for others. I see them get excited about a child making up a game for them all to play on the playground.
As structured as Montessori might sound, the students are all very active and outgoing individuals. Ds (4 yrs old) meets all the criteria for a being high-spirited child and he loves his school.
Thanks for the post and all the wonderful info. I am just beginning to look at the Montessori method and this was a great resource to me!
We tried Montessori and here's why it didn't work for ds:
They expected him to stay on task without redirection. Ds has attention and focus problems and would get distracted from his tasks. If he was caught talking instead of working, he was sent to the office and then sent home. With his personality, this was happening at least once a week. I couldn't afford to keep taking off work, so I had to move him.
The second reason is that if your child has any learning disability, a private school is not obligated to accomodate that. I was told ex post facto that they do *not* accept children diagnosed with ADD (they didn't realize that he was since he was not on meds).
The environment was very chaotic. Ds was in a mixed classroom with 3 different grades and at least 5 different activities going on at one time. There were animals running loose in the classroom. It was also a very large classroom with several teachers. While this was what drew me (it seems so awesome when we visited), this environment made it impossible for ds to concentrate.
Laralou, your girls (and Tay) are beautiful!!! Congratulations and wow--double slinging it!!! Thanks for sharing, you look like you are having the time of your life!
Thanks, AM Mom! Its a little tough because dh is out of the country, but I wouldn't trade them for the world.
laralou i never thought of it that way, that there are a zillion things going on around your son that for him would of course be horrible distractors! what a great point.
we are *hoping* ds gets into a particular montessori school here. for me finding the right school is all about what *feels* right. everything about how this school presents itself, and the reaction ds has had to seeing it and being inside just feels great. that said, i think he would do very well in a traditional montessori classroom (i.e. multi-age, following montessori 'curriculum') because he loves to work at a project until it is completed, he loves to work on things himself without adult interference or advice
, he is now at nearly five starting to be more aware of 'helping' and including his younger friends and learning from older friends, and he has responded very well to montessori materials we have at home (homemade, but the concepts and methods are there hehe).
i think ds would do great in either montessori or waldorf ~ one thing that is very important to me in both systems is the teacher staying with the class for more than one year to really get to know the child and where they are progressing.
i am so so so nervous that for some wacky reason ds won't 'fit in' on his observation/participation day!!
My son is 4 1/2 and has been in a great little Montessori school since September. He seems to be a perfect fit. His personality is very organized, very academic. He does great with the work there -- they choose their own work, carry the tray of materials to a table or rug, do the work, carry it back. He is self- motivated and interested in learning. He has learned to read and write in the 6 months that he has been there! But he seems to be suffering socially a bit. I didn't expect this since he has two younger siblings and some close friends that he sees on a regular basis, but he has no close friends at school. Perhaps this problem (if it is one) would have arisen at any school, but I think Montessori emphasizes the work and not the social play that my son might be needing. But over all we are really happy. It's a small school and a really nice community, and we are considering sending all three kids there for elementary school. We'll see how my wild, imaginative daughter does there!
i know for ds he is just now starting to define 'friends' and becoming aware that not all the kids in the world want to play the exact same way he is LOL
he is also much more outgoing in public, walking up to kids and introducing himself and asking them to play. the way his personality is right now with regards to social relationships, i can see that he probably won't form close friendships at school the first year or so. actually, he does tend to pick one child out in each class to work with in the spanish and yoga classes he's in, but it's just at school. if that makes any sense LOL
i wonder if part of why a lot of montessori children don't seem to have that 'buddying up' compared to public schoolkids is that montessori instills self-reliance and responsibility so well... like, the kids don't need to forge alliances over pokemon gossip when they can work together or side by side on geography or figuring out what type of house people lived in 300 years ago...
does that make sense? i think the public schools set the atmosphere automatically of kids vs. teacher, and cliques start forming at a very early age compared to the montessori and waldorf schools i've seen.
..... i should NOT post before coffee!!!
oooh autumndawn i just noticed you're in kittery!! my brother, SIL and their kids (5 and 1) live there (navy)
I wonder if I know them, Cattrane...I just met a woman with 2 girls about those ages just today. It's a smallish and social kind of town. All of us moms tend to know or know of eachother.
I agree that Montessori schools may not tend to create a 'buddy' effect. The teachers keep such a close eye on what the kids are doing and they are kept so busy. As soon as one project is finished they are asked to find another. There is not much idle time to play, be that good or bad. The one time each day alloted for play is recess, and my son often seems uncomfortable with that...as if he is eager to get back inside to his more important work!!
I also wanted to add that I get the feeling at my son's Montessori school that the teachers really discourage cliques from forming. Any clique is, by definition, exclusive. The school is so small, like a one-room schoolhouse, that a clique could get out of hand. A clique could exclude a child and there would be no other group for him or her to join! The teachers really promote friendly behavior (I'm sure all schools do though) and match up all kinds of kids to work together. Any exclusive behavior is closely monitored and interrupted.
Most of my children's best friends are those from their Montessori school. They work together during the day, and socialize as often as possible outside of school. These are the kids they have known since they began Montessori 5 years ago.
I think Montessori encourages these kinds of relationships. The children tend to stay together through each grade, and usually work together throughout the day.
It is true that the school encourages the children to all work together, and my children do work with all the children in the class, but most often they work with those children that they consider friends.
Autumndawn...I also have a wild, imaginative daughter!!!
She has been going to montessori for two years, and this last year has been difficult for her. She is very, very strong-willed and has had difficulties with the things that she has to do...like putting away her work or her lunch, getting her belongings together, and sitting quietly at circle time (dd would much prefer to attend circle time as a barking dog or meowing kitten or some other imaginative animal). I have been wondering if montessori is a good match for her. But there do not seem to be better alternatives. She struggles with the structure, but I think that her classroom is much more unstructured than most traditional schools would be...she does great when it comes to choosing work and independently working!! I think that unschooling would be ideal for her, but I am single and need to work, so unschooling is not really an option
One thing that is a benefit is that they always use positive discipline rather than something punitive. They made her a special book so that she could look at the getting ready routine each day. And they try to figure out meaningful natural consequences rather than yelling or telling her she is bad. I think that at most other schools, she would not be treated as kindly.
And I *love* the school...I wish I could go there!