DS is 3.5 (so yeah, nuts!) and we just moved and are looking at preschools for him. Where we used to live, he went 3 mornings a week to a sweet, play-based preschool that was based around a garden. He did great there.
I just recently discovered Montessori and its philosophy. I like it, for the most part. DS is one of those kids that needs CONSTANT interaction and does not play by himself for more than 5-10 minutes, so I feel like Montessori might be great for him with establishing independence.
He is also very sweet and emotionally intelligent. He's not aggressive at all and didn't really associate with the rowdy boys at his last school. We have always explained things to him and because of this, he really gets things in an adult way. We don't shame him or use time-outs (although we may start because 3.5 is INSANE!!).
When DS was at his old school, he liked doing work in the garden, playing with trains and rarely chose to do art or any pretend play. I know that Montessori is not into dress-up or dramatic play and is more practical.
From what you know about DS (which is not a lot, but...), does it seem like Montessori would be a good fit for him? What are the pros and cons of Montessori?
We love Montessori! My DD#1 has been in Montessori since 12 weeks (I WOHM when she was young) and now is in the preprimary program (their term for preschool) at 3.5 years.
There is a definite focus on independence. Children are encouraged to pick their own activities (called "work") even if they are above their current level. My DD is never told she can't do something, they make sure she can interact with all the materials in the room at some level. Real life work is also paramount. Cleaning tables, sweeping, arranging and organizing the classroom are not just after thoughts, but an essential part of the curriculum. I think Montessori is especially good for "hands on" learners. Also, because the classroom is 3-5 year olds the older children do a lot of interacting and helping with the younger ones. My DD absolutely adores the 5 year olds-- they are rock stars in her world
I find the classrooms radiate peace. There is no yelling or screaming, kids walk slowly and are respectful of other people's space. Some criticize Montessori for its lack of free play, but personally I don't think it's an issue. DD gets tons of free time at home and the kids have free play at recess everyday. Also, if you observe your child, they love doing adult "work" at this age (sweeping floors, cleaning up, etc.). IMO, doing tasks like this in the classroom helps them feel pride in themselves and their environment. It also helps foster a family like atmosphere in the classroom. Another con can be the cost, Montessori tends to be much more expensive than other preschool alternatives.
I would say visiting the school with your son is probably the best gauge as to whether he would be a good fit.
You might want to check out the MDC Montessori forum
and I also found this
book to be particularly helpful.
Good luck in your decision.
Thanks for the helpful post! I think DS would probably do great in Montessori. My only hesitation was the lack of playing and just kid silliness. Like, they have their entire lives to do "work" so shouldn't they just play right now? BUT, he would only be going for three hours (or less) per day and the entire rest of the time he is playing so I feel like the school would be a nice change from just playing playing playing.
This is going to sound dumb I'm sure, but at the temporary school DS is at right now, they make all sorts of cute craft projects and art stuff - do they do that Montessori? I sort of don't think they do, which is a bummer.
It really depends in the school. I went to a very traditional montessori through 3rd grade and we really didn't do much in the way of crafts. It seems like once I was in the grades we had art-time sometimes, but not every day and mostly around the holidays. But my mom still has all the books I made about science and the stories I wrote.
DP and I visited a montessori pre-school recently and they were doing crafts, but in that Montessori way - quiet, ordered, every kid doing his own thing.
Montessori was great for me. Our DS sounds a lot like the OPs and we decided against it for him for some of the reasons you mentioned. I don't feel like there's enough movement in montessori. Although the recess times are typically quite generous and fun!
from what you describe your son would probably like montessori but i would say take your son and see how he does. THAT will tell you more than anything. i knew my dd picked up on a lot fo things - how the rooms were, how the teachers were, the kids, the energy of the place. she was really the one making the decision.
my dd IS a artsy girl AND also a 'work' kinda girl. at that age she was into miniature so she loved the school we visited. i think we stayed a LONG time - a couple of hours because i couldnt pull her away.
for her 'work' was play. we did not put her into the montessori even though i knew she would love it as she was v. v. tactile, v. independent and enjoyed the culture they taught. i cant remember the arts and crafts but i know they had a good amount of it.
she didnt ultimately go to the montessori coz ex didnt like the neighbourhood but dd so badly wanted to go there. however she was in a v. good playbased ps/dc.
even under the umbrella term montessori schools are all so different.
what i loved about that school was that they served freshly cooked organic meals and the kids helped with the preparation. they were involved in making the meal. all the kind of things dd truly enjoyed.
it was more down to earth kinda place. dd was the kind who didnt play with toys, who loved doing chores, who loved following me helping me with housework so she was a perfect fit for the school.