I have an almost 5 year old daughter. She just started montessori two weeks ago at a fantastic school. I love it, and her teachers and DD really does like going there. She just transfered there from a school that was supposed to be montessori but ended up totally not being and we both were unhappy with it. The reason I started her in preschool as because I could not get her to learn anything at home. She has zero interest in learning letters, her name, writing, math etc... She shows signs of some ADD issues when I do try, I even have tried candy as rewards. Most of the time when I try or even bring it up she refuses to talk about it or do any of the "work" So I thought maybe it was time for school, and that she would want to learn more with someone besides mom and around other peers.
But I seem to be having the same struggles. This was our conversation the other morning...
me- So what is your favorite areas Rie? Do you like the letters and reading, or the math and counting or...
Her- she cuts me off. I dont like any of it! I just like to play puppy (her favoirte obsessions) and playing outside.
me- well thats really good you have so much fun at school, but you have to learn things too. That way we can read together and...
her- cuts me off again. STOP TALKING.
and from there I would try to say someting and she would make a noise or start getting loud so that I couldn't speak.
It made me sad, I want her to enjoy school, which she does like being there, but part of school is learning. & everyone there is SO ahead, which I expected as many of them have been there for a long time.
Is this normal? Is there anything I can do to encourage her? Or should I just let the teachers deal with it? I have parent teacher conference later this month, and I know she said its hard to keep her on task with some things but she often pairs her with one of her little friends who is more advanced so she can learn from her and it keeps her more on track.
Sorry so long and thanks in advance for any help & suggestions.
Trainer/Lover, AP mama to DD 3/07, wife to and expecting a little boy late May/early June 2012
We're a kinda family <3
I would definitely see what the teacher/s have to say. When my son was in a Montessori school I was fascinated as to how structured it was and the teachers were excellent at assessing where he was at any given time.
At my son's school they did a lot of templates and tracings before even approaching letters, and even then the letters were not named (eg "A" "B" "C") but were introduced as the letter sound, and even then the letters were brought out in a specific sequence.
At this age, learning at home can be incorporated into so many games that are not overtly about letters and numbers. If she likes dogs, maybe a set of tiny dogs can be the basis for sneaking in some learning about matching, ordering, categorizing, describing etc. We had some little plastic animals that were used for patterns and sequencing and all my kids liked playing games with these. Little did they know they were doing math concepts!
My son also started his Montessori experience later than his class peers but he advanced through the materials and is now doing very well in public school. That said, that particular Montessori school was not the right fit for my other child who had some learning differences and was not as self directed. We did do some of the approaches at home, though.
I think some children feel a little overwhelmed by the idea of learning -- and perhaps of not succeeding, which is true of one of mine. I read an interesting article a few years ago that detailed why parents should praise their effort, as they are more likely to reach for the next challenge, and that's what we try to do.
How fortunate that your daughter likes her school. I'm sure people here (and there) will have good advice!
I do not at all mean this as a criticism, just a question- Do you think that you might be over-talking this, perhaps? If your daughter feels you only [or mostly] want to hear reports of her alphanumerical studies, well.. then she may be reluctant to engage in such direct learning or talk to you about it. I agree with PP on encouraging her learning through subjects she is interested in. Maybe you can help her write a letter to her favorite puppy, or write a story about puppies or take her to a dog park and help her read the signs there, etc. There are lots of ways to learn [even your numbers and letters] without sitting at a table with pencil and lined paper.
Hope that helps, mama. Good luck!
Oh, and definitely talk to the teachers. I'm sure they can provide lots of insight and ideas about how to continue encouraging at home. Also, she is learning. Don't worry. She is learning without even trying!
I'm a strong advocate of education. That being said, your daughter is FOUR. It is perfectly developmentally appropriate for her to be playing puppies and enjoying the outside. In fact, that's what she SHOULD be doing to gain the rich experiences with the world and with her imagination. That will be knowledge and skills for understanding and writing stories that she's not going to get from learning the alphabet at this age.
Personally, I'd give up talking about academic stuff altogether! Ask her about her day. Ask her about who she sat next to at lunch/snack. Talk to her about your favorite kinds of dogs. Go to the library and get lots of interesting picture books to read together. Make up stories about "puppies" that star your daughter. All of this will teach her skills that will become invaluable when she is ready to read. Right now she's not. That's OK. the Montessori approach will introduce her to the letters and the sounds as it's appropriate. She'll have an opportunity to work on them. But, if I remember correctly, much of the focus for the early years is on self care, caring for the classroom and that sort of thing.
It really is OK that your daughter is not interested. I had one early reader (reading fluently by mid K) and one who didn't read fluently until the end of 1st grade, and didn't read willingly until the middle of 2nd grade. Right now, they're both reading well above grade level. Why? (1) They see us reading at home. (2) They practice reading at home (each reads 30+ minutes as part of the bedtime routine). (3) We read out loud to them daily, even though they're 7 and 10 and could easily read for themselves. (4) We talk to them about a variety of subjects and their interests. We have dinner together every night and converse over dinner. Just tonight, ds was asking me about the Olympic basketball team and how they were chosen. As he was going to bed, I found a newspaper article about that and gave it to him. We'll probably talk more about it tomorrow. (5) We've given them rich experiences that they can refer back to when encountering a new word or concept. (6) We don't grill or quiz them, unless they ask us to (actually it's more the other way around. "What's the most famous basketball call of all time?" "who's the tallest person in the world?" "How can think and get our mind to work when we're just made up of little cells?")
I know that a lot of parents feel that they have to get their kids reading early. No research backs that up. In fact, there's good research to show that children who do academics too early are not as interested in learning, they're not as motivated to learn, and by 2nd grade or so, they're no longer further ahead than children who didn't do academics in preschool. For that reason, my children did a lovely play-based Emilia Reggio preschool and kindergarten. It's what they both needed. They entered first grade ready to do academic work because they'd had an experience linking their play-school lives. Your daughter isn't ready for the 20-30 minutes of reading practice that my kids do. They weren't ready until they were reading fluently. Until then, we read together (i.e. we read out loud mostly).
If you need convincing, read: Einstein Never Used Flashcards.
It's great you've found a good Montessori. I hope your daughter enjoys it. Playing outside and being a puppy are great things for a 4 year old to do!
You've been given a lot of wise advice. One thing you might want to keep in mind is that the essence of Montessori is child-led learning. Children are introduced to a lot of academic concepts (as well as practical life and other skills, which are equally important!), but it's important to allow them to explore and follow their interests. Especially at an early age.
That conversation indicates that learning may be turning into an area where you are both battling for control. The only way she can exert control is to resist. Something to think about.
Re-reading the title of your thread, another thought occurs to me. Children like and want to learn. They are hard-wired for it. She may not like or want to learn the things you think are important right at this point in time and she may not like or want to do it at the pace you've chosen. If you observe her and let go of your concerns for a little bit, you will likely notice all sorts of wonderful things that she is learning now. Enjoy them and encourage her in those pursuits and she will probably respond accordingly.
Been there. My son was developmentally delayed though. It is still a struggle to get him to do any school work.
I bought so many "learning" toys (puzzles, books, games, stacking toys, blocks, etc) and he never touched any of them. It was all about action figures, sharks or dinosaurs.
My son was always so much more cooperative with teachers and therapists. I am curious to see how the conference with your daughter's teacher goes.
If she is your first child, and she doesn't have an older sibling to look up to and imitate, then that plays a role in her desire to learn too. My younger daughter loves homework, pretends to read, always asks how to spell stuff, etc and she is still in pre-k. She shows so much desire to learn and be independent, and my son was never like that, unless it was in a topic he enjoyed.
In my son's case, I think his delays played a huge roll in him not wanting to learn, but I also take into account his personality and him being the first child. What I am getting at is, there may be an underlying learning disability, or sensory development thing or something going on with your daughter. I don't want to scare you, but I don't want you to rule that out either. I was so frustrated, angry, exhausted, etc. all the time when my son was little, because I didn't realize what he was going through at the time. I just thought he was being bad, and I was a bad mom, etc.. The combination of poor fine/gross motor skills, dyspraxia (problems processing information and coordinating movements), sensory processing issues, ADD and speech delays made for one frustrated, difficult little boy!
I am glad to say my son is 9 now, and he is doing very well. He struggles with certain math concepts and getting his thoughts on paper is difficult, but we are on top of it. We chose not to medicate for ADD, and we are hoping that we can get through it with just the help of a tutor.
Let us know how it turns out!
Everyone above has truly valuable and valid points.
The absolute best learning for children her age is through play. IT'S HER JOB. A stellar kindergarten teacher realizes this and uses it, although the child is usually a year or more older than your little girl at that time.
Is this desire of yours for "achievement" truly about her, or is it about your desires for her? I'm sorry if I sound harsh, but I work daily with kids who haven't learned to read, or to read successfully, and this type of expectation is often the culprit. Very often, actually.
Take a look at her and see how very young she is. Are you really ready to start labeling her at this tender age? I've read your post a dozen times, and you don't mention much about an ADD situation, other than that she rebels against living up to your expectations. She's made it clear that her driving interest right now is PUPPIES. Go with it and forget the academics! She'll learn as much or more likely more on a topic she is in love with.
I'm sorry if I sound harsh, but you've hit an especially sore spot for me. These are the kids I deal with every day, all day long, in trying to give them back the joy and wonder of what reading can be. It can take years to overcome this early aversion. We focus on enjoying it, with skills embedded in painlessly, and they never even realize it. I'd never dream of working with a child of four. It would be going against nature.
If she had a great desire for it, then of course! She's ready. But a huge percentage of children aren't. Use that puppy interest. Not to make her read, but to feed her interest. She's sold on it already, she's into it, she wants it. But if she doesn't? She'll find another desire about her interests, not yours. Let her grow and learn! She's a baby. She'll learn to categorize what she learns, to develop a schema for the many connections she makes to other parts of what she knows and things she learns. Learning to do THIS is what matters. Not mastering reading.
My apologies in advance. I've read this through so many times now that I can't stop myself from replying. I thought I'd cool down...but I haven't, even in the bright light of day, 12 hours later. :/
Best of luck, and I hope she turns out exactly as you desire. No, that's a lie. I hope she overcomes these things and becomes an avid learner and reader. A child who doesn't learn at age 4????????? Nope. She's learning alright. But what exactly is she now thinking about the value of "learning" as defined by you?
My apologies in advance. I know that I have overstepped. One of my best traits as a teacher for struggling readers is that I'm incredibly passionate about it. I guess I just can't help but reply. I'm sorry to sound critical. I have no children, so have no real room to gripe at you. But I see a problem in the making, and feel I have to alert you. It's my life.
Best of luck with whatever path you take. I wish you and your child the best of all possible worlds. :)
THank you so much for all of the advice! I was starting to think I did something wrong, by being so laid back about structured learning. I never forced writing/tracing/those learning books on her, I tried at different times to see if I could get her interested in writing her name etc...A big struggle with it came when she started her old school and had homework. The first and only night I made her do it, it took an hour just to get her to color the last little tiny picture and write the letter. She just refused, through a fit, etc...It broke my heart, I was torn between what we were "supposed" to do for school and the fact that I didn't want homework time to be this traumatizing. I also started getting a lot from family and friends about how their kids can write their name etc..Also, they test to get into kindergarten now, and I know she wouldn't pass that as of right now. Which doesn't matter because we are keeping her in Montessori for kindergarten, but before we made that decision that was becoming a worry. In my heart I feel like when she is ready it will happen, but I also have a younger brother who makes homework time a living h**** for my parents every day. Even though he is smart, he just doesn't want to do it. and eventually, she will have to do homework for school. It just becomes one of our responsibilities as kids. And I guess I was starting to worry, my daughter was on the same track. I obviously was just looking into it way too much. And we do a lot of natural learning. I share her passion for dogs, I am a dog trainer and have studied them since I was 9 so we have fun with that. And she can absolutely pair things, and count them etc...She has a great imagination and is obviously smart, I wasn't concerned she wasn't smart. I just wasn't sure that her not wanting to do formal learning was normal at this age.
I will stop asking about the school work side for now and just ask about her day like I normally do. and just let her be 4 for now, when she's ready for more I am sure she will show me =)
I really feel much better after reading your responses, I knew this would be the right place to ask! Thank you again!
Trainer/Lover, AP mama to DD 3/07, wife to and expecting a little boy late May/early June 2012
We're a kinda family <3
The communications from the school to families are fairly uncoordinated (unsophisticated system / process for disseminating emails to the recipients who actually need to see information such as sending information to parents of upper school about stuff going on in lower school -- then the need to send corrective emails (hence confusion!); high volume of emails not sent in coordinated fashion from various senders; email communications that are not professionally 'produced'). This is not that big of a deal in and of itself but I think there's a domino effect leading to bigger issues such as the next bullet.
Difficult for working parents to get as involved as the school appears to prefer. Low attendance at some events geared toward families/parents (perhaps due to overwhelming number of email communications and events to choose from?) Would be great if the school could better help parents prioritize which events are more important to attend. (Speaks to the same issue as above around processes for communicating with families.)
Not as much ethnic diversity amongst student body / families as I would like to see. I will admit this is a big one for me. I am not sure what the school can do to address this.
The downside of the "tight knit community" part is that it can be difficult for new families to become fully integrated beyond a superficial level, unless parents have time to be fully engaged with every event (only possible if you don't have a job). Another part of this is a seemingly unspoken set of 'rules' about how parents interact with each other and with the school which can come across as a little clique-ish (and a little gossipy, which is probably par for the course with any tight knit community). There are, of course, teachers and program leader, then amongst the parents, there are class liaisons, liaisons for whole programs, association leads (I am probably using the wrong terminology here but the point is that there are a lot of different people playing a lot of different roles and it's not clear what the process is for communicating with whom about what, and I've been 'redirected' once or twice about the who/how of communication .... which is a symptom of lack of clarity on the school's part). As a new family, expect a little bit of a rough entry but be pleasantly surprised if it's not!
Limited number of musical instruments offered due to school size; if your kid has a particular instrument other than those offered by the school, you'll have to do outside lessons. Same goes with sports ... if your kid is some sort of a sports whiz, you might want to consider a school with a better program.
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