Shy child? Montessori or Waldorf?? Help? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 16 Old 11-27-2006, 04:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My dd just turned 3, is an only child, surrounded by lots of doting adults, but no playmates her own age. No cousins, neighbors, etc.....Needless to say, she has had very limited opportunity to play with kids her own age. Unfortunately, she is also very, very shy. When she does have an opportunity to play with other kids, she just shys away, really doesn't know how to engage with them. She is a wonderful little girl, loves all traditional girly things like playing house, babies, fairies, dress up, etc.....She loves playing with adults, but I know she really needs to learn to play with her peers. I was all set to enroll her in Montessori preschool next Sept.....but, I'm wondering if it's the best thing for her. She would be mornings-only for two years, then, full-time Kindy and then on to Montessori primary school. My concern is that in the Montessori preschool/Kindy class, there seems to be very little free play and socializing. The kids get a recess outside, that's it.....Of course, they can "work" together and talk to each other....but, I feel like my little girl needs more opportunity to really learn to PLAY with other kids. I love the Montessori approach, but I'm wondering if Waldorf might actually be a better fit for her?? Her godmother is a former Montessori teacher and thinks she would do great there.....I'm sure my dd would learn a lot and become a very independent learner/worker....But, I wonder if she would develop better socially in a Waldorf environment??? I kind of feel that 3-6 is a critical period for learning how to play with others, and my daughter just has very little opportunity to do so at home, for a variety of reasons. I work, and I have no close friends or relatives with kids the same age. I take her to a lot of outings/playgrounds, etc....but, we never really click with anyone, I'm shy too, and she just won't interact with other kids at all in those settings. Anyway, I'm just starting to reconsider whether Waldorf might be a better match for us.....I know she would enjoy the emphasis on pretend, arts and fairies, etc.......Any thoughts? Thanks in advance! ETA: I am fortunate to have excellent Montessori and Waldorf schools close by....My dd could go to Montessori Preschool through 6th or Waldorf from Preschool through 8th....Or, we could transfer to something else at any point....But, I prefer to pick an approach and stay with it.
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#2 of 16 Old 12-01-2006, 12:21 AM
 
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bumping....sorry I don't have specifics to add!!

 
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#3 of 16 Old 12-04-2006, 11:48 AM
 
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Coming from a Montessori perspective here....:

The difference between Waldorf and Montessori is less based on "free play" and more on the following: Montessori is almost entirely focused on reality-based activities and is child-centered. Waldorf is almost heavily focused on fantasy-based activities (at least in pre-school and kindergarten) and is teacher-centered. And in these domains, the two pedagogies are so far apart from one another (mirror images, really) that it would be difficult to be torn between the two. In neither of these pedagogies is there room for a lot of "free play". What YOU call "play" might be present in Waldorf (painting, nature activities) but they are entirely teacher-led activities. The whole class is tuned in to the teacher, listening and watching her. In Montessori, fantasy "play" is limited but the "teaching" is entirely child-centered. The directress has little interaction with the children collectively and children learn from each other and from the autodidactic materials. And from a Montessori perspective, children's "work" IS their play.

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#4 of 16 Old 12-04-2006, 12:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by cmlp View Post
The difference between Waldorf and Montessori is less based on "free play" and more on the following: Montessori is entirely focussed on reality-based activities and is child-centered. Waldorf is almost entirely focussed on fantasy-based activities and is teacher-centered. And in these domains, the two pedagogies are so far apart from one another (mirror images, really) that it would be difficult to be torn between the two. In neither of these pedagogies is there room for a lot of free "play". What YOU call play might be present in Waldorf (painting, nature activities) but they are entirely teacher-led activities. The whole class is tuned in to the teacher, listening and watching her. In Montessori, fantasy "play" is limited but form of learning is entirely child-centered. And from a Montessori perspective, children's "work" IS their play.

I'd say your description might apply to Waldorf/Montessori differences in the grade level, but not the preschool/kindy level. I spent the morning at both programs. In the pre/Kindy rooms at Waldorf, the teacher is NOT directing the free play, which lasted about 2 of the 4 hours.....The children were entirely absorbed in imaginative play with eachother. One teacher was preparing soup, and the other teacher was ironing/folding....A few children wandered over and joined in with the teachers occasionally, but that's it....the rest of the time, they played with their peers. No one directed the play, and the teachers seemed very sensitive to not interrupting it. The teacher was observing and whispering to us to help us notice how creative the children were being, and how they learned so much through this kind of play, problem solving, social skills....She was very in tune with what they were doing, but she was not involved in it. I observed one room for an extended period, and two rooms briefly......My observations and the official class schedules confirm, this is truly, free, imaginative play. There was none of it at the Montessori level preschool, only a 20 minute recess on the playground with climbing and tag. I tend to prefer the Montessori pedogogy, and if I had an outgoing child, with lots of friends, I'd probably pick it.....But, I really feel that my daughter would miss out if she spent the next 3 years "working" in a fairly isolated manner, as opposed to playing with her peers in an imaginative manner.
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#5 of 16 Old 12-04-2006, 12:35 PM
 
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The children were entirely absorbed in imaginative play with eachother. One teacher was preparing soup, and the other teacher was ironing/folding....A few children wandered over and joined in with the teachers occasionally, but that's it....the rest of the time, they played with their peers. No one directed the play, and the teachers seemed very sensitive to not interrupting it.
This actually sounds more like a MOntessori classroom.

You say that there was none of this in the Montessori but I am not quite sure I understand. During the entire three-hour work period in a Montessori classroom, children choose what they want to do within the prepared environment. How is this different from what you have described above, except for the materials that they "play" with? (And what you describe above sounds like materials in a Montessori classroom, too - the ironing and folding, preparing soup...this is all Montessori "practical life" activities).

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#6 of 16 Old 12-04-2006, 12:43 PM
 
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In my area (I'm sure each school is different), my experience would be more like Raven67's than cmlp where Waldorf is "softer" than more "structured" Montessori.

My vote goes to Waldorf for your shy child.
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#7 of 16 Old 12-04-2006, 01:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by cmlp View Post
This actually sounds more like a MOntessori classroom.

You say that there was none of this in the Montessori but I am not quite sure I understand. During the entire three-hour work period in a Montessori classroom, children choose what they want to do within the prepared environment. How is this different from what you have described above, except for the materials that they "play" with? (And what you describe above sounds like materials in a Montessori classroom, too - the ironing and folding, preparing soup...this is all Montessori "practical life" activities).

First, I want to make sure I'm not sounding argumentative....I really do like Montessori. But, when I said ironing and cooking, etc....Yes, a couple kids moved in and out of those areas, but the primary focus of the children in the room was pretend play with eachother. They were moving items around, creating forts and structures, playing house, pretending to be princess/prince, pretending to have a parade, pretending to be animals, etc.....They were playing. I'd say 90% of the activity was group or dyad, imaginative play. In the Montessori classroom, the kids were free to move about and talk quietly, but there was no pretend play.....They focused on their work, yes, including practical life lessons.....But, it was very reality and practiced based, it was not pretend play, and it really wasn't all that social, more solitary. I wouldn't say one or the other is THE best thing for early childhood, but I think Waldorf might be better for my daughter.....She WOULD thrive in Montessori, as it would fit with many of her strengths, concentration, independent, sustained focus, orderliness......But, I think I need to help her develop her other weaker side. And, like I said, she has no regular peer group to engage in pretend play, so I really don't want to miss out on that.
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#8 of 16 Old 12-19-2006, 10:29 AM
 
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I was reading this thread b/c I have the same situation/question for my daughter. I know too little about both styles, but it occurred to me that another factor not discussed is chemistry. So much could depend on a particular leader/teacher and the particular group of kids (when it comes to your daughter connecting). Would it be possible for you to do a trial run at each of the schools and see what may just FEEL right, philosophies aside?
Hope I don't sound too simplistic/stupid for such an important decision (again, I'm there too).
Bets of luck!!!
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#9 of 16 Old 12-19-2006, 10:51 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Riverchik, it's a good thought....but you can't really just try them out....You have to apply a year before, application fees, interviews, and then make a tuition deposit in the thousands of dollars. Of course, if my choice isn't working I'll pull her out.....but, I wouldn't go into it with the thought that it's just a try out. I am going through the whole application process at both schools, and will put off making the decision until the last moment....although I am leaning toward Waldorf.
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#10 of 16 Old 12-19-2006, 10:24 PM
 
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I am going on Friday to visit for a couple hours at a Montessori near home b/c we missed the open house day...it was at the suggestion of a friend who visited several schools (Mont, Waldorf and a cooperative) with her daughter when making a decision recently.
Oh, well, just a suggestion.
Good luck.
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#11 of 16 Old 12-27-2006, 05:05 PM
 
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I was a very very shy child. I honestly think your daughter would do good in either one. Maybe you could visit both, spend some time observing and just go with the one that feels right to you.
I went to traditional school and it was not good for me at all, I got good grades and made friends but I was very unhappy. I think it made me go even further into my shell.I think the alternatives, either one, will be a good choice for your daughter.
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#12 of 16 Old 01-02-2007, 07:55 PM
 
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I'm wondering if I made a mistake with enrolling DD in a Montessori preschool. She absolutely loves the Spanish they are learning, and she's a very social little girl,

but...

she really craves playing with other children and everything in the Montessori classroom is individually based. I have seen her on numerous occasions go up to other kids and try to play "with" them and they admonish her and say "This is MY work" or "I'm using this!" I know it makes her feel bad.

I'm not sure what I should do - keep her in the program until the end of the school year, or pull her out and find a different school for her.

To the OP, based on the fact that your child is shy, I would gravitate towards the Waldorf-style of school.
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#13 of 16 Old 01-03-2007, 01:51 AM
 
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In our M school, during the work period, children may (and do) work individually or in small groups, depending on their preference. And the rest of the day (circle time, meals, outdoor time) is very social.
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#14 of 16 Old 01-05-2007, 01:58 PM
 
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I just wanted to add another couple of ideas for you. My 3-yo DD is in a Montessori program. We also have a wonderful Waldorf school nearby, and I observed there. I think the answer to your question is also about the classroom environment and what the day looks like. How many kids in the Montessori vs. Waldorf classroom? What is the age range in the classroom? Our M classroom has 26 kids, ranging from nearly 3 to nearly 6. That is a lot of social interaction to navigate! My DD is a social butterfly (unlike her mama) and it is a lot even for her to handle. However, she has gravitated toward a few kids her age, and sometimes is able to persuade some older kids to work with her.

I do agree that the Waldorf day is more teacher oriented as a whole. I saw that the free play at Waldorf is not teacher directed, but most other activities were teacher led (meals, activities, lots of circle time). At the beginning of our Montessori day, DD must go in to the classroom, find an activity and begin work. No circle time, no teacher saying "OK, we're going to do X". Actually, for her, she finds one of her friends and sees what they are up to, and tries to invite them to work with her. Or she finds the snack table. : I think some shy kids could thrive there, depending on their inclinations - some might NOT like all the group activities of Waldorf or a traditional preschool. But the group stuff is definitely an easy, smooth way to start the day. SO in a way, it's not so much about whether they're shy or not, but more about their broader inclinations.

So clearly I don't have any answers, but maybe a few things to think about?
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#15 of 16 Old 01-10-2007, 03:55 PM
 
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There are a lot of conflicting descriptions of the two, aren't there? It must largely depend on each individual school.

I don't know that much about the Montessori day from a child's perspective, but I know a lot about Waldorf schools, at least the ones I know about in my area, which are almost identical to each other in the early childhood/kindergarten classrooms. And I've watched some of the shyer children and how they respond. I'd estimate that about half the day is purely free play, not at all "teacher led". This is very intentional on their part, they view this free play as a very critical pedagogical element of Waldorf education. The main role the teachers play in facilitating the free play is to "set a stage" for it by providing objects which offer endless possibilities for "open ended" play, such as colored cloths, simple dolls, hay bales. And a large part of the activities during the other half of the day could maybe be described as sort of "open-directed". For example, there will be a "drawing" time but it wouldn't be very often that teachers tell preschool/kindy's what to draw. (But at this age they copy each other anyway , so on any given "drawing day", half the children draw rainbows.) Same with painting, which is mostly experimenting with the play of colors at that age. The teachers do guide the students a bit more with "method" or technique rather than "content". For example, they try to encourage the children to experiment by using the broad side of crayons instead of the sharp corners, or to overlay two colors to make a third, or to "shade" with the crayon.

I think that in some respects both Montessori and Waldorf could be said to be "led" curriculums at the preK/K level. What I mean is that the two rely heavily on very different elements to "guide", but the guidance works through the child's individual initiative rather than teacher instruction. It's just that in Montessori, the Montessori designed "teaching materials" play this role, and in Waldorf, it's the intangible "class rhythm" that does. (In Reggio Emilia schools the physical environment itself is viewed this way. They refer to it as the "third teacher".)

The Waldorf classrooms are very social environments, but with a large enough class, the shyer children find companions to play with that they're comfortable with. The smaller the class, the more it depends on the personalities of the other children. I don't know what it would be like in a small class if most children were shy, but when a small class is mostly the boisterous, take-charge type, the shy child will sometimes just retreat from engaging with them. I can't be in their heads to say exactly, but my impression observing them in the classroom is that even though quieter children sometimes seem less actively busy, they have always looked to me like they're very tuned in to everyone and everything going on around them, absorbing it all. For a short stage my son was like this. He didn't say much then so who knew but he was taking detailed mental notes of everything the whole time. I know because after he passed through this "mute" phase, he'd give us complete accounts -- he remembered every story, the characters, parents' names, names of classmates' pets and siblings, what clothes they wore, what kind of snack so-and-so brought on his birthday.
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#16 of 16 Old 01-31-2007, 11:42 PM
 
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