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We have a DD who will be 5 in a few months. We are homeschooling now, with a very relaxed, unschooling approach. It is our intent to continue this, but there are a few reasons we might consider our local Montessori school. First, our daughter has expressed an interest (repeatedly!) in going to school. She has several friends who are in this school, so it would be a good place to "try out" school, IMO. The second reason is that in 2007 my DH might transition from SAHD to WOHD, so we would need to find some sort of day care anyway.

I have read a lot about Montessori, and overall I am a big fan of the method. Here is my main concern. Will my DD be coerced into doing things she might not be interested in? I have heard how wonderful the M schools are for the little ones, 3-6 year olds. But then I hear (mostly here on MDC) about older kids being forced to complete certain tasks, math worksheets for example, when they would really rather do other stuff - read, or do practical life activities. I am an unschooler at heart, so if my girl wants to iron all day -- more power to her! I just wanted to hear some feedback about how much "direction" she was likely to experience.

FWIW, she would be in the Primary classroom at first, with the 2 1/2 to 6 year olds. Within a year, she would be transitioned to the Lower Elementary classroom of 6 to 9 year olds.

Thanks,
Diane
 

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Yeah, I'd say it could vary widely. I would ask to observe the classroom a few times and see for yourself.

I would say in our school the teacher might suggest something to the child, especially when trying to redirect behavior, but I haven't heard of anyone being forced to do anything, then again my dd is only 3.5 and has only been there 2 months so far.
 

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Is all Montessori schooling "child-led"?....IMO, it should be.
In any AMI affiliated school or with an AMI Directress, the child is given the freedom to choose any of the materials to work on for an unpredetermined length of time. The child should always be protected in his concentration and undisturbed when engaged. All activities (ironing, counting, writing, flower arranging, puzzles) are given the same respect. Respect is given to the child's individual preferences and interests as well as individual cycle of activity.
Math "worksheets" are not Montessori materials so if you see them in the class, it shows that the teacher is perhaps unclear about the method. There are many, many materials in the math area in both primary and elementary that help the child understand the concepts of quantity, teens, tens, addition, sub, odds/evens, etc.
However, giving the child freedom to choose activities does not equal a passive role on the part of the Guide. The Guide is very actively evaluating the child's abilities and interests and catering the presentations to individual needs. There are a wide variety of strategies for enticing interest in the materials.
I would suggest asking about this topic when interviewing for schools, to see what sort of response you get. I have always felt that Montessori and Unschooling are pretty similar in regards to the freedom the child has to follow his interests and choose activities.
 

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An AMS certified school should be child-led, as well. It is a bit more flexible in its approach to Montessori than AMI schools, but will hold firm in the belief that children should have freedom within limits to choose their own work. I recommend visiting, asking questions, spending time at a school to see what you think.
 
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