Help me with my montessori crisis! - Mothering Forums

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Old 07-24-2003, 01:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Some background -- I am a student and apprentice midwife; I need on-call, full-time childcare (my son goes to daycare for about 20-30 hours per week on average, but babies come anytime they want!). My son's family daycare provider told me yesterday that she is dissolving the daycare in 5 weeks. EEK! I had been thinking for some time that I wanted to find a more enriching environment for him (the dcp was loving, but getting burned out, there was lots of tv and repetitive activities).

I have been calling around to various preschools/day care centers and have appointments to look at two montessori schools. But I am in a bit of a crisis about them being too academic, and about the focus on individual work. My son is super-social and loves group play, and I want, most of all to find a place where he will be happy and excited about all of the great stuff he gets to do all day. A warm, caring, relationship with the teachers would be important too. For practical reasons, I like the fact that they run 9-3 (about when I am in school) but have drop-in childcare from 7:30-6.

Can someone with experience with montessori/preschool reassure me? How have your kids responded to montessori schools? What do you like/dislike about them? My son is 3.5, bright, funny, very active.

Thanks,

D.

Stacia -- intrepid mama, midwife, and doula. Changing the world one 'zine at a time.
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Old 07-25-2003, 01:05 AM
 
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My daughter has attended montessori for two years. She will be 5 this september, and will be in their kindergarden program.
I do not think that montessori stresses individual work as much as child-led learning. So rather than the teacher telling the class what they are going to do, and everybody doing the same activity, the children spend a large amount of the day selecting their own work. But at my daughter's school, students frequently complete work together, in small groups. Or they might sit at the same table and socialize while completing their work. Additionally, for her 3 hour class, there are two circle times that all the children attend together, plus music and gym class each week, plus an outside play time every day. There might be more social time than you are expecting!!

We have been fairly happy with our school. There are a few things about montessori that I was not perfectly happy with. There is a strong emphasis placed on the children developing independence. This does not sound so bad, except at times (especially when Harmony was younger), I felt that she was pushed to become more independent than she was ready for at the time. I will admit that dd is much less independent than other children her age, but the push for independence caused problems at times. However, I LOVED how they handled the problems...tons of positive reinforcement, and using natural/logical consequences rather than a punishment focused approach.
Also, our school is very pricey, and feels "elitist" at times. While there is tremendous cultural diversity, there is almost no socio-economic diversity at the school.
Hope that helps!
Christy
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Old 07-25-2003, 02:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks fairiedreams!

I think my big issue is the difficulty of the transition from a group of 4-7 kids who just play all day to a structured classroom with 20 kids.

The school I went to visit today was cool, they had a great physical space, a little worn around the edges, but they had a nice play area, a nature area, a gym, a music room, etc. I was actually crying when the director was explaining to me some of the things they do to help the kids through separation anxiety -- you would think I had never sent my kid to daycare! The thought of him upset in that big classroom just made me have an anxiety attack! The other thing is, I am pretty anti-authority, and would probably be unschooling my son, if I had the temperment for it, so I am really sensitive to possible indoctrination.

My son is a bright, confident kid who is also pretty sensitive. I worry that he would not be independent enough to thrive in this environment, but at the same time, I can see things about it that he would just love.

Money is a big issue. The school didn't seem elitist to me, and actually is on the lower end of the scale, tuition-wise for montessoris in the area, but it is going to be a major stretch for me. I got spoiled on full-time daycare for $450/month. This school is a lot more than that.

Thanks again for your help, and I would love to hear about more positive montessori experiences.

D.

Stacia -- intrepid mama, midwife, and doula. Changing the world one 'zine at a time.
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Old 07-25-2003, 03:30 PM
 
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My child is starting in the fall so I can only tell you based on my readings and impressions observing the classrooms.

I don't think there is meant to be a lot of indoctrination in the Montessori way of educating. It is meant to be child led with teachers serving as facilitators. Remember too that a good chunk of the students in your child's classroom were there last year and even the year before. They will not need as much guidance from the teachers as will the newer students. Moreover, and more importantly, their example will serve as a positive example.

It may take a while for your son to warm up to the place (I anticipate that with my ds who is extremely independent at home but takes a while to get acclimated to new situations). If your son's teachers are sensitive, they will be aware of this and there to help ease him into making the school his second home.

Best of luck, and my apologies for posting despite my limited background.
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Old 07-26-2003, 11:38 AM
 
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I am curious defenestrator, what the director was sharing about how they deal with separation anxiety that upset you so much? Is there something about the school isn't feeling right in your "gut?" I think it is important that we listen to ourselves.

I went through a situation this year in which I sent my son to an afterschool program that didn't feel great, but I kind of kept telling myself it would be "fine." It wasn't fine, and he was miserable-- I'm not saying that to make you doubt yourself or the school, just to raise awareness that if you do have any little niggling doubts, you might want to pay attention, ask more questions, write it out in your journal if you have one, etc. When I'm trying to make a decision, I sometimes do an exercise writing a "letter" to a thing or situation. It helps me clarify how I feel about it. Sounds wacky but it works!

 
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Old 07-26-2003, 12:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks Lauren,

I went into this process thinking that a school environment would be good for my son, that putting him in another family day care where there might not be anyone his age would be lonely and boring, and that I really wanted a place where he could stay for a few years. I guess I was just struck by how different it was from where he is now and how many adjustments he would have to go through (losing old friends, dcp, new big classroom, school routines, moving between multiple environments during the day, new teachers, 20 new classmates, etc.) The last time we went through a daycare adjustment he was 7 weeks old and was pretty oblivous to the change of scene. In a way, he hasn't been left with strangers since then. We have never hired a babysitter beyond dcp, and there has never been a situation (beyond that first week when he was a newborn) when he was left with someone he didn't know.

I start school the same week as the montessoris start, so if it doesn't work out, I am, well, screwed. He is really too little to come to class with me, even for one day, so if I want to pull him out my dh or I will have to stay home until we find alternate care. I live in a college town -- it seems that everything around here revolves around the school year, so it will be pretty hard to find another place after Sept. 1. I am only able to get him into the schools I am looking at because they are a few miles out of town and don't necessarily draw from the university staff and students.

I wish that my dcp weren't quitting, that she gave me more than 5 weeks notice, that I could stay home for another year without total financial ruin, having to give up my job as an apprentice, etc., etc.

After thinking about all of this, I think I am bothered by two things. First, I feel backed into a corner. Second, I am not sure whether or not I will be able to distinguish between normal transition anxiety in my son (and will probably find that excruciating to endure) and true unhappiness.

Thanks everybody.

D.

Stacia -- intrepid mama, midwife, and doula. Changing the world one 'zine at a time.
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Old 07-27-2003, 11:38 AM
 
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I can empathize with your situation completely! I'm a grad student and I teach so I was in a similar situation last year (first time having someone else care for ds) and will be this year. My fears tend to make me on edge. I generally want things settled and this is ten times worse when it comes to my child.

That said, I found someone wonderful (I mean extremely wonderful - more than I could ever dream of) to take care of my child about 3 weeks before school started. She couldn't start right away so dh took over the bare minimum of childcare that I needed when I taught. Can your dh pitch in while everything gets sorted out?

If you aren't feeling comfortable with the Montessori school, you could consider having an individual provide childcare. Since you are in a college town you might have lots of possible childcare providers among the student body. Given your circumstances you would probably need to work with one or more. Not ideal, but at least another possibility to fall back on.

This is just a rambling post to let you know that even if one option doesn't work out there are other possibilities. I tend to panic until I feel that everything is in place, but now I have a little more faith in my instincts. Also, if you trust the teachers, I would think that all of you together could judge well whether your son's transition was normal or not.
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Old 07-27-2003, 12:17 PM
 
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I am and was a montessori teacher before I had ds. now we do it at home. as teacher I tell you. it is important that your child like the school and formost the teacher that he is going to be place with. the bond that forms betwen child and teacher is strong. as a mother go with your gutt feling.

Maria Montesori whom was the founder of all. did not patented her writtings and method therefore the knowledge is for any one to grab and give their one interpretation of it. so be ware of some Montessori schools. make sure they are AMS (American Montessori Society)afiliated or AMI(Itallian base)

I must say The acasdemic is one of the best you can get the best and on the humasistic is the one most nerturing I had ever experience.
I learnd of attachment parenting while in training for montessori.

there are many train teachers that stay at home with their children so you may find some one that is looking to start a small class at home or come to you.

good luck hope this helps
with care lali
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