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Ds is 2 and half, so I have some time here. I know a little about Waldorf and Montessori, and I'm torn between the two philosophies. I don't know anything about the other types of schools mentioned around this board, and so far have not come across any in my state (MN), but I am very open minded at this point to learning about anything. I have a few questions, if you don't mind answering;<br><br>
1. Which school's philosophy most closely aligns with <i>The Continuum Concept</i>, and why do you think so? (this is how we have been raising Ds, and it has built tons of confidence in him.)<br><br>
2. Which school is the most "unschooling" school, and why do you think so? (I just want the closest, I realize that no school will be very "unschooling" at all, but when it comes down to it, this is my philosophy on education, but I just don't think that I can homeschool.)<br><br>
3. Which type of school is the best for a special needs child? (e.g. mild speech issues/mild sensory issues/mild anxiety - may all be resolved by school age, but don't know yet)<br><br>
4. Which type of school is the best for a gifted or very intelligent child? (e.g. testing 2 years ahead, acts 2 years ahead in most areas of development?)<br><br>
5. In your opinion, would a child who we jokingly refer to as a "boarder collie" because he's the most happy when he has a job to do, and engages in very little pretend or imaginative play, be put in a school that puts more emphasis on work, or imaginative play? (I am honestly torn on this issue, I wonder if I should foster his natural affinity towards work, or encourage more imaginative play in order to help him become a more well rounded individual?)<br><br>
6. In your opinion, if you had a child who had high anxiety or was shy, and because of this had a hard time in social situations, what school would they best thrive in?<br><br>
7. If you had a child who had an exceptional interest and natural understanding of mechanical processes (e.g. the workings of; heating and ventilation, plumbing, electrical, and, the biological processes of; breastfeeding, digestion, chicken egg laying, etc), at which school would this natural ability and interest best thrive?<br><br>
8. If your 2 and a half year old was already very interested in numbers (can count, naturally does addition and subtraction), letters (can identify most, knows sounds for most), science, mechanics, and biology, and it is already clear that he is doing things ahead of what is considered average for his age, how would these abilities and interests be treated in each respective school?<br><br>
And also, we can not afford private schools. I am still looking into them and considering applying for a scholarship, however, this worries me. I do not want to receive a scholarship one year, and then be left without one the next. With some of these schools, it would make very little sense to transfer out of them after a year or two, as it would leave the child way behind in certain areas in a conventional school. Our income is well below the average for private schools, and without a significant scholarship (like most of the tuition covered) these schools would be out of our reach. There are public Montessori's in our area, as well as some very good public charter schools that I will be looking into. I don't want to give up the idea of a private school, but at the same time I don't know if I want to spend Ds's elementary years worrying that his scholarship wont come through for the next year and we'll have to scramble to find another school. So, considering this, would you opt for a public school and just forget the whole scholarship idea, or apply for the scholarship and just hope that you get it every year?
 

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Honestly, I wouldn't choose either Waldorf or Montessori for such a child. Instead I'd look at a preschool that follows "developmentally appropriate practice" as advocated by the NAEYC.<br><br>
I used to teach at a private NAEYC accredited school where the day went something like this:<br><br>
8:45 Children arrive at school, choose between classroom centers (housekeeping, blocks, science, art, sensory activities, table top toys etc . . . ) and engage in any activity of their choosing. Sometimes a teacher has a new art material out, or a cooking activity and children are invited to join if they're interested, but no one is forced.<br><br>
9:00 Everyone's there -- kids work on putting on their own coats and boots and then kids head out the playground, where things are set up for physical play (trikes, climbing equipment), pretend play (houses in the sandbox with muffin tins, and other cooking aparatus, toy bulldozers and other trucks etc . . . ) sensory play (hedge maze to run through, water to play with if the weather's warm enough, sand, mud to dig in, stumps to hammer nails into, hill to run up and down), art, science, etc . . . Children are also invited to participate in "real" activities such as animal care, gardening, using wheelbarrows to move new sand into the sand boxes etc . . .<br><br>
10:15 Children come inside, use the bathroom/wash hands, and then head back to the classroom for a snack where they eat family style, pouring their own water/juice, and having little conversations.<br><br>
10:30 Circle time -- a finger play or two and a story maybe calendar or a quick cognitive activity like "Simon Says" or making a graph of who likes something. Teacher ends by introducing something new that will be available at choice time. Kids are encouraged to join circle, and if they don't they must choose something quiet so the other kids can listen, and kids are encouraged to try the new activity but noone is forced. Usually everyone joins the circle, and the majority try the new activity.<br><br>
10:45 Choice time -- all the centers from the morning are open again, plus the one more structured activity that was introduced at circle. Some kids get really into the new activity, some kids try the new activity and then wander off to play, some spend the time moving from task to task and some get really into one activity such as building a city with blocks.<br><br>
11:15 Back outside for more of the same fun as above.<br><br>
11:45 Parents pick them up.<br><br>
On some days a science teacher comes and sets up activities or experiments on the playground -- a pully to explore, a set of bottles with different liquids in them to look and slosh around, a big tub of water with a collection of gourds to drop in and see if they float. Two days a week there's a short music class (20 minutes) where the children sing songs and act out little plays.<br><br>
My son attended a very similar school except that it lasted all day rather than just 3 hours, and so they added things like lunch and nap time, and did more "practical" activities like cooking food or washing the teacher's car.<br><br>
To me it's the perfect environment for a child like you describe. It's pretty unschooling/continuum concept, it's got both real activities and pretend play to choose and in between activities like using little ladders to climb up and paint the roof of the playhouse with water. Reading and writing is an option, but it's never forced and because it's all "real" reading and writing kids can do it on every level. There's plenty of sensory opportunities.<br><br>
Both schools served children with special needs, and did a great job of it. And both schools had generous financial aid (I administered it at one school and received it at the other). Both schools made committments to families on admission -- if we made it possible for you to attend the first year we would continue to do so. Obviously if you won the lottery or otherwise dramatically changed your circumstances then we'd reconsider that promise.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>jennica</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/10810570"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I have a few questions, if you don't mind answering;</div>
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I will try my best. Realize two things:<br><br>
1) I may plead ignorance on some questions.<br>
2) I have a Montessori bias. I think that's important because I'll be explaining things from one perspective mostly and I don't want you to think the Waldorf option isn't a good one. Parents who send their children to Waldorf tend to be very pleased with the schools.<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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1. Which school's philosophy most closely aligns with <i>The Continuum Concept</i>, and why do you think so? (this is how we have been raising Ds, and it has built tons of confidence in him.)</td>
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I do not know enough about the specifics to answer that. I am sorry. I know some basic ideas, but would feel embarrassed if I tried to explain it.<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">2. Which school is the most "unschooling" school, and why do you think so? (I just want the closest, I realize that no school will be very "unschooling" at all, but when it comes down to it, this is my philosophy on education, but I just don't think that I can homeschool.)</td>
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I would say Montessori is definitely the closest. In Waldorf, the teachers do not follow the child's interest well. If a 4 year old is interested in reading, they do not teach the 4 year old. If a 4 year old wants to work with math, they do not work with math at that age. Unschooling is about following the child's interests. When I read about unschooling, it sounds a lot like Montessori without the materials. The philosophy seems exactly the same, from what I have read.<br><br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">3. Which type of school is the best for a special needs child? (e.g. mild speech issues/mild sensory issues/mild anxiety - may all be resolved by school age, but don't know yet)</td>
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I cannot say which type is best. I will say what Montessori offers:<br><a href="http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&FriendID=322364686&blogMonth=2&blogDay=7&blogYear=2008" target="_blank">http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fu...&blogYear=2008</a><br><br>
That is a blog I wrote about children with Special Needs in a Montessori Environment. Here is an article I wrote on the same subject that got printed in Montessori Life a few years ago:<br><br><a href="http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa4097/is_200310/ai_n9314415/pg_1" target="_blank">http://findarticles.com/p/articles/m..._n9314415/pg_1</a><br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">4. Which type of school is the best for a gifted or very intelligent child? (e.g. testing 2 years ahead, acts 2 years ahead in most areas of development?)</td>
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Again, I cannot say which is best. I can only say what we offer that is different. Montessori classrooms are broken down into age groups of 3 years:<br>
3-6<br>
6-9<br>
9-12<br>
12-14 (Junior High)<br>
High School<br><br>
So if you have a 4 year old who is reading at a "Kindergarten level," there will be materials in the classroom to meet that need and interest the child has.<br><br>
The Montessori classroom also provides a wide range of learning. The cultural area is full of learning things from different countries of the world to different celebrations. The math area hosts probably one of the best math curriculums available anywhere. The sensorial area is full of materials that help the child refine the senses.<br><br>
The teacher plays a different role in Montessori. Our job, as a teacher, is to observe children and see, among other things, when they are ready to learn something new.<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">5. In your opinion, would a child who we jokingly refer to as a "boarder collie" because he's the most happy when he has a job to do, and engages in very little pretend or imaginative play, be put in a school that puts more emphasis on work, or imaginative play? (I am honestly torn on this issue, I wonder if I should foster his natural affinity towards work, or encourage more imaginative play in order to help him become a more well rounded individual?)</td>
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Montessori child has quite a bit of imagination, if that's what you're asking.<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">6. In your opinion, if you had a child who had high anxiety or was shy, and because of this had a hard time in social situations, what school would they best thrive in?</td>
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I can't say which is best since I don't know Waldorf well enough. I think Montessori is a great choice because the child can be easily "eased" into the classroom.<br><br>
Another great article reference, not by me this time:<br><a href="http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa4097/is_200310/ai_n9314410" target="_blank">http://findarticles.com/p/articles/m...10/ai_n9314410</a><br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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7. If you had a child who had an exceptional interest and natural understanding of mechanical processes (e.g. the workings of; heating and ventilation, plumbing, electrical, and, the biological processes of; breastfeeding, digestion, chicken egg laying, etc), at which school would this natural ability and interest best thrive?</td>
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Again, I would say Montessori. A good Montessori teacher can follow that child's interests and help them learn about it. A Montessori teachers loves their job often times because they are learning, too.<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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8. If your 2 and a half year old was already very interested in numbers (can count, naturally does addition and subtraction), letters (can identify most, knows sounds for most), science, mechanics, and biology, and it is already clear that he is doing things ahead of what is considered average for his age, how would these abilities and interests be treated in each respective school?</td>
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In Montessori, the abilities would be encouraged. Take a look at this post from the Montessori chat board on here:<br><br>
"I was saying that I told the pre-K/Kindergarten head teacher (at a Waldorf School) and the admissions director about my daughter learning to read at two, and asked how they would handle that situation. Their advice was to get her to draw or tell stories instead because learning to read at two (or anytime earlier than seven) would cause her to be "in her head" too much, and that would be bad. "<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">And also, we can not afford private schools. I am still looking into them and considering applying for a scholarship, however, this worries me. I do not want to receive a scholarship one year, and then be left without one the next. With some of these schools, it would make very little sense to transfer out of them after a year or two, as it would leave the child way behind in certain areas in a conventional school. Our income is well below the average for private schools, and without a significant scholarship (like most of the tuition covered) these schools would be out of our reach. There are public Montessori's in our area, as well as some very good public charter schools that I will be looking into. I don't want to give up the idea of a private school, but at the same time I don't know if I want to spend Ds's elementary years worrying that his scholarship wont come through for the next year and we'll have to scramble to find another school. So, considering this, would you opt for a public school and just forget the whole scholarship idea, or apply for the scholarship and just hope that you get it every year?</td>
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I can't give any advice for that. You'll have to talk to the director of the school about scholarships.<br><br>
Matt
 

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Matt,<br><br>
I'm going to ask this carefully because I realize that many people love Montessori, and often times the people who do are people whose opinions I respect. When I first heard about Montessori I was really drawn to the idea of choice because I suspect that I'm a little bit of an unschooler at heart (even though I work as a public school teacher and send my child to a public school -- Expeditionary Learning it may be but still definitely school). Anyway, I've had the opportunity to spend 3 full days at 3 different Montessori schools observing and learning, and what I saw seemed to me to be the opposite of child-directed learning and far from Unschooling. Can I describe my observations and have you tell me if you think what I saw was typical or did I catch them on a good day?<br><br>
One is going on an admissions tour at the very formal AMI school near my and seeing a tiny child sitting all by herself tracing the lines of a very fancy trivet with a Q-tip dipped in silver polish. I was surprised by this activity because, frankly, it didn't look either practical (which is something I've always heard about Montessori) or like something a child would choose voluntarily (also something I've heard from Montessori). I asked and the director proudly told me that the child was 2 1/2 and had just moved up from the Toddler classroom. In preparation for the move they had taught her 3 activities she could do all by herself (this being one) and she could choose between those activities. This activity was presented as a great one because it developed visual tracking and pincer grasp. To me this seemed like a false choice -- like when my elementary school teachers told me I could do boring math worksheets, look up words in the dictionary or write my spelling words 5 times each. It also seemed like a really boring way to teach pincer grasp and visual tracking. In contrast the 2 year olds at my school were developing their visual tracking skills by floating little twig "boats" down the river they made with the hose in the giant sand box, or by dripping glue all over construction paper and covering it with sand, and developing their pincer grasp by playing mad scientist with a row of test tubes, beakers of colored water, and eye droppers, or by searching through the "forest" (actually a very small grove of trees in the corner of the playground) floor for tiny pebbles to put in their pockets -- activities my child would actually choose even if there were a million choices.<br><br>
People told me the issue was that this school was too "high-faluting" and "formal" so I went to another, smaller, cooperative, Montessori on the other side of town. At that school the relationship between the children and teachers was much warmer, and there was much more socialization (as far as I could tell at school 1 you couldn't socialize until you had had lessons on activities that were approved for being done together -- every 2 and 3 year old I saw was working entirely alone -- I really really disliked that school). There was also much more open ended activity, but it was usually done without teacher approval (although they tolerated it). For example, I watched a group of 4 girls, maybe 4 and 5 years old who were lying on their stomachs with their heads together supposedly making maps with stencils and big pieces of paper and colored pencils. In reality every time the teacher turned her back they'd flip the paper and draw pictures and tell each other elaborate stories about the people and places they were drawing (an activity, which I as an elementary school reading teacher think is much more important for later reading and writing skills and also was clearly more fun). When they heard the teacher's feet they'd flip them back and the teacher would say something light like "Remember, you're making maps, right?". There was also a little boy, maybe 3, who was running around the classroom, and the teacher gently pulled him over, got out the Trinomial cube (I admit I don't know what this is for, I later looked it up on line because I was curious) and told him to make a "train". He made a gorgeous "train" with a smoke stack, and some of the blocks stacked in front for a cow catcher -- it was amazing! The teacher came back and told him that wasn't what she meant and to do it like she'd taught him. Then she left and he built 3 little block houses, put 3 little blocks inside, and had a bigger block knock on the doors and threaten to blow the houses down. She came back, smiled at him and reminded him that that wasn't how we used that material, then left and the block became airplanes, and then race cars, and then tools in a science experiment about what happened if he stood on the table and dropped them off. I never did figure out what a trinomial cube train is supposed to look like. I left that school smiling because of the clear warmth between the kids and teachers, and because the kids spent most of their time engaged in what I think of as the very best preschool learning (making friends, retelling stories, using their imagination) but not quite sure why this was discouraged (if faintly) rather than encouraged.<br><br>
I then went to a very expensive Montessori school out in the country with a beautiful huge country campus. By this time I had a Kindergartener so I looked at their 1, 2, 3rd grade class which was in a big beautiful room with 2 complete walls of glass. Outside the walls was a forest, and a big playground, and a stable with horses to ride (how cool is that!). Because the walls were literally solid glass, I figured the teachers would be able to work inside and supervise kids outside -- how perfect for my active, nature loving boy! I asked how much the kids went outside and was told that they had 30 minutes of recess once a day, and otherwise they could outside "work" such as sweeping the patio. I asked what if they could go outside to collect things in the forest for a science project, or feed the horses, or move their muscles and she said no, those things weren't "work" but that if I paid several extra thousand dollars a year he could leave the classroom for 1/2 an hour once a week to ride the horses.<br><br>
Are these things not typical? Am I overlooking something? Is there a reason why trivets are more "practical" than leaf boats (I guess it depends if you'd rather have your child be a Victorian parlor maid or a boat builder -- I think my son tends towards the latter) or why tracing Zimbabwe is more important than story telling? In the first school, I also looked into the 4th through 6th grade classes and didn't see a single child curled up with a book which I what I would have chosen at that age and was more educational than most of what I did see (copying out a chart of different times in history?)
 

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<div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
<div class="smallfont" style="margin-bottom:2px;">Quote:</div>
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Momily</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/10819367"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Matt,<br><br>
I'm going to ask this carefully because I realize that many people love Montessori, and often times the people who do are people whose opinions I respect.</div>
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I enjoy the hard questions and know people here are just trying to do what's best for their children. That sometimes involves hard and challenging questions. Just saying feel free to ask the hard questions and not feel bad about it :)<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">One is going on an admissions tour at the very formal AMI school near my and seeing a tiny child sitting all by herself tracing the lines of a very fancy trivet with a Q-tip dipped in silver polish. I was surprised by this activity because, frankly, it didn't look either practical (which is something I've always heard about Montessori) or like something a child would choose voluntarily (also something I've heard from Montessori). I asked and the director proudly told me that the child was 2 1/2 and had just moved up from the Toddler classroom. In preparation for the move they had taught her 3 activities she could do all by herself (this being one) and she could choose between those activities. This activity was presented as a great one because it developed visual tracking and pincer grasp. To me this seemed like a false choice -- like when my elementary school teachers told me I could do boring math worksheets, look up words in the dictionary or write my spelling words 5 times each. It also seemed like a really boring way to teach pincer grasp and visual tracking. In contrast the 2 year olds at my school were developing their visual tracking skills by floating little twig "boats" down the river they made with the hose in the giant sand box, or by dripping glue all over construction paper and covering it with sand, and developing their pincer grasp by playing mad scientist with a row of test tubes, beakers of colored water, and eye droppers, or by searching through the "forest" (actually a very small grove of trees in the corner of the playground) floor for tiny pebbles to put in their pockets -- activities my child would actually choose even if there were a million choices.</td>
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Let me comment on that particular work, then what you noticed about the choice.<br><br>
I can't say whether the activity was boring or not, as I did not see the child doing the activity. For me, my favorite activity when I was in the 3-6 classroom was always polishing. I remember how upset I was one day when I came in and the penny polishing work was not ready. The teacher quickly prepared it for me. :)<br><br>
This work does a little more than that as well. If done properly, it provides the child a way of immediately seeing results of their work, it is a very calming work, and it is something that really builds up concentration. I never really describe it in terms of the grip of the Q-Tip. There are just so many other things in the classroom that are ideal for that. The concentration and the focus this work builds is key.<br><br>
As far as the choice goes, it concerns me that the child was only allowed to choose from 3 things in the classroom. There are some times I will step in and stop a particular work, but it really has more to do with whether or not that work will overwhelm the child. For example, if a three year old takes out the Africa Map on his first day, it's time to step in. You will find a wide range of beliefs regarding this question of what to do if a child chooses something they have not been presented. My philosophy is to observe and see what they do with it. If they are getting to the point where they might hurt someone or the materials, I step in. If it looks like they are getting over their head and it is becoming too frustrating, I step in. If I see them choose something they might be ready for, I'll present the lesson to them. If not, I'll see what they do. Maybe a child chose the hanging teen work not because they're ready to learn teen numbers, but because they want to hang the beads. They do not have to get it "right" to gain something from it. That's my 2 cents.<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">I left that school smiling because of the clear warmth between the kids and teachers, and because the kids spent most of their time engaged in what I think of as the very best preschool learning (making friends, retelling stories, using their imagination) but not quite sure why this was discouraged (if faintly) rather than encouraged.</td>
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It may have helped to ask about that.<br><br>
With the trinomial cube, I would have left the child alone. He'll eventually have to do the actual work to put it back together. The other activity, where the children were drawing on the back of the maps, tells me that they are not as interested in the maps as they are in making these stories and sharing them with each other. If I observed that, it tells me as a teacher that I need to figure out an activity where they can do that. The map work isn't really the place to do it, unless they're tying it in somehow.<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">I asked what if they could go outside to collect things in the forest for a science project, or feed the horses, or move their muscles and she said no, those things weren't "work" but that if I paid several extra thousand dollars a year he could leave the classroom for 1/2 an hour once a week to ride the horses.</td>
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Sounds like they are missing out on a great opportunity. The limitation there should be liability. They may obviously not go into the woods out of the teacher's sight, but they are limiting the child if he cannot walk around the edge of the woods and examine things, take things in for science, etc.<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">Are these things not typical? Am I overlooking something? Is there a reason why trivets are more "practical" than leaf boats (I guess it depends if you'd rather have your child be a Victorian parlor maid or a boat builder -- I think my son tends towards the latter)</td>
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I think both are great activities. The leaf boats can be done as a child-centered activity as well where the child is able to do the activity on his or her own. I see no reason for it to be excluded from a Montessori curriculum.<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">or why tracing Zimbabwe is more important than story telling?</td>
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It's not. They are, however, different works and the teacher should have noticed what was happening and help guide the students into works more appropriate for what they were trying to do. Maybe the teacher was just dropping hints at that point for the children to decide which activity to do. (Just a guess??)<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">In the first school, I also looked into the 4th through 6th grade classes and didn't see a single child curled up with a book which I what I would have chosen at that age and was more educational than most of what I did see (copying out a chart of different times in history?)</td>
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They both seem educational to me. In the 9-12 program I attended, there was quite an extensive library of books for us to choose from.<br><br>
Hope I answered some questions well. Bottom line is to always look closely at a program before you sign up. If you see something you disagree with, ask about it. A lot of the Montessori Philosophy is quite different than what we are used to. Sometimes, it is just a matter of needing explanation. Other times, it may be something you disagree with.<br><br>
Matt
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>MattBronsil</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/10819581"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I enjoy the hard questions and know people here are just trying to do what's best for their children. That sometimes involves hard and challenging questions. Just saying feel free to ask the hard questions and not feel bad about it :)</div>
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Thanks! OK, I'll take your offer and ask more questions. First of all, I want to say that perhaps if you had been teaching at one of the programs I observed I'd have chosen that for my child! I do wonder how typical your feelings are.<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>MattBronsil</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/10819581"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
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As far as the choice goes, it concerns me that the child was only allowed to choose from 3 things in the classroom. There are some times I will step in and stop a particular work, but it really has more to do with whether or not that work will overwhelm the child. For example, if a three year old takes out the Africa Map on his first day, it's time to step in. You will find a wide range of beliefs regarding this question of what to do if a child chooses something they have not been presented. My philosophy is to observe and see what they do with it. If they are getting to the point where they might hurt someone or the materials, I step in. If it looks like they are getting over their head and it is becoming too frustrating, I step in. If I see them choose something they might be ready for, I'll present the lesson to them. If not, I'll see what they do. Maybe a child chose the hanging teen work not because they're ready to learn teen numbers, but because they want to hang the beads. They do not have to get it "right" to gain something from it. That's my 2 cents.<br></div>
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I think that's where I had the biggest problem -- was the concept that children were limited to what had been presented. I don't care if the 3 choices are the most interesting choices in the world, a child choosing between 3 choices isn't really choosing, especially when none of the choices have any social element to them -- which seemed to be true at this school. However, my dislike of that school was so strong, and for other reasons as well (I only gave examples related to the issue of choice, but I saw plenty of other things to dislike as well) that I have to assume that they were a particularly bad example of Montessori. Of course it didn't help that they kept emphasizing that they were "pure" Montessori and that anyone who allowed a child to socialize using anything other than a Stepford-style script or touch a material that wasn't introduced or form a relationship with an adult was "deviating".<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>MattBronsil</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/10819581"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
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It may have helped to ask about that.<br><br>
With the trinomial cube, I would have left the child alone. He'll eventually have to do the actual work to put it back together. The other activity, where the children were drawing on the back of the maps, tells me that they are not as interested in the maps as they are in making these stories and sharing them with each other. If I observed that, it tells me as a teacher that I need to figure out an activity where they can do that. The map work isn't really the place to do it, unless they're tying it in somehow.<br></div>
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I'd love to hear the language you'd have used with the group of artists, but I guess my question is why would the teacher need to figure out an activity for them -- the kids had already, clearly, figured out an activity that worked for them -- and it was, IMO, a really valuable activity one that encouraged a lot of creativity, fine motor, language, social etc . . . skills. I don't think the children were under any illusion that they had "chosen" maps. They had chosen to take their materials from the map making center because that's where the biggest pieces of paper were plus lots of nice colored pencils. They took the map pieces off the shelf because they felt the need to "cover up" what they were doing, and that's where I had questions -- why is drawing something to be covered up? Perhaps there was already a center where kids were allowed to draw freely (I didn't see one, every set of art materials I saw except for the easels was connected to some kind of a close ended task -- e.g. under a vase of flowers to draw, or next to some stencils to trace, but I admit that I didn't examine every center closely), but even so if the kids had decided to draw at the map center because they felt like using square paper and the paper at the art center was rectangular, or the pencils there were particularly inviting, or they were cold and wanted to work close to the radiator, why wasn't the message "I put these map pieces here because you might want to use them, but of course you might have another equally valid way to use these materials". Even if that wasn't the original message they were given, why couldn't the teacher had said something like "It looks like you're choosing to draw for your work today. You seem to be enjoying that choice. Why don't you put the map pieces away in case someone else wants to use them while you're drawing." that made it clear that their choice was an acceptable one?<br><br>
One thing I will comment, was that I was impressed with the ways that kids found creative uses for familiar materials at this school. Both the little boy I mentioned and the group of girls really stuck with the materials in a very nice, focused way and did some very creative things with them (especially the boy -- honestly he was amazing, I have never seen such a young child come up with so many neat ways to use a handful of different colored blocks -- it was particularly interesting in that before the teacher brought him to the table he was running around in a very chaotic manner, stepping on other kids work and generally being pretty disruptive). I wondered if that ability to be creative with something familiar comes from the fact that the materials and the environment changed so little that the change had to come from him. However, if so then this is potentially a great strength for Montessori, IMO, and I'm not sure why it would be treated like a liability.<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>MattBronsil</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/10819581"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
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Sounds like they are missing out on a great opportunity. The limitation there should be liability. They may obviously not go into the woods out of the teacher's sight, but they are limiting the child if he cannot walk around the edge of the woods and examine things, take things in for science, etc.<br></div>
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As a teacher myself I totally get the liability piece, but frankly I would have been happy enough with -- if you're reading a book and you'd like a little fresh air you can sit on the little porch outside the glass door and read there, or if you want to stretch your legs, you can walk to the fence of the riding arena and back, plus maybe since there were 2 teachers, if a critical mass wants to take a break on the play equipment or collect things at the edge of the woods they can do so with an adult.<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>MattBronsil</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/10819581"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
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I think both are great activities. The leaf boats can be done as a child-centered activity as well where the child is able to do the activity on his or her own. I see no reason for it to be excluded from a Montessori curriculum.<br></div>
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I'm not quite sure I get your implication that in a developmental preschool it wouldn't be child centered, or how you're picturing it done. In my old school such an activity would start one of a couple of ways. Either the teacher would quietly put the hose out and start it running or the kids would ask for it. Once it was running, either a teacher would gather a small group of kids who didn't seem to have anything else to do and say "hey watch this" while she floated a few leaves and twigs, or an older child who had done the activity before would start floating and kids would copy or a child would experiment with putting different things in the water and end up discovering a leaf boat. The activity isn't one that a child would end up doing alone, just because it's too cool and there's only one place to do it, (e.g. with one hose and one sandbox another child can't say "Oh I want to do this too and go replicate it somewhere else) so invariably other kids would watch and either join in or starting adding to the play by floating other objects, or digging out the downstream part of the river to make it longer etc . . .<br><br>
Is that similar to what would have happened in a Montessori school?<br><br>
Again, thanks for putting up with my questions. As a teacher I'm always wanting to improve my practice, so knowing how other people do something is really helpful.<br><br>
Momily
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Momily</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/10827291"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Thanks! OK, I'll take your offer and ask more questions. First of all, I want to say that perhaps if you had been teaching at one of the programs I observed I'd have chosen that for my child! I do wonder how typical your feelings are.<br></div>
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Thank you :-D<br><br>
Sorry this has taken so long to reply. I read your questions this morning, but my internet has been down all weekend. I finally have a chance to sit down with it now. I've been playing catch up for the past hour or so.<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">I think that's where I had the biggest problem -- was the concept that children were limited to what had been presented. I don't care if the 3 choices are the most interesting choices in the world, a child choosing between 3 choices isn't really choosing, especially when none of the choices have any social element to them -- which seemed to be true at this school.</td>
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That's very AMI. Many AMS Schools are like that as well. All depends on the teacher.<br><br>
AMI is wonderful. I'm not saying anything either way. I think the key is to observe how the students handle the materials. Are they being disrespectful of them? If so, they do need to stop doing that. The question comes in of "what does disrespectful mean? To me, and others I have worked with, there are several times we step in:<br><br>
1) When they are damaging a material (such as banging the cubes to the pink tower together).<br><br>
2) When they are disrupting someone else's work. It's ok for me if the child is pretending the parts of the trinomial cube are trains as long as he's not having the train go onto the table next to his and interfering with that child's work.<br><br>
3) Is the child really getting anything out of this? Making a train is one thing. It has its benefits. If, during observation of this, it looks like the child seems like he's doing it just out of boredom, I will step in and help him get focused. There is a certain judgement call there and I think it takes time to get it right, but it is something that can develop over time for the teacher to discern that.<br><br>
I'm sure there are other times I would step in as well. Those seem to be the big 3.<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">However, my dislike of that school was so strong, and for other reasons as well (I only gave examples related to the issue of choice, but I saw plenty of other things to dislike as well) that I have to assume that they were a particularly bad example of Montessori.</td>
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I try not to make that call...especially on an internet forum. Many Montessori schools do have that "only do a lesson you have seen" rule. I believe there's a time for that (a 3 year old is trying to take all the chains at once to his rug, for example. What a mess THAT can cause), but I do not like the idea of "you've had 3 lessons, so you can choose between those 3 things." Some people do it that way...I don't.<br><br>
I might show them how to do something similar they may do. "I see you like the chains. For today, let's just take out the small chains and take them to the rug. I can show you something really neat with them once they are there." If the child still has interest, I can show him how to sort them, fold them up into a square, or even count the smaller ones.<br><br>
The child is drawn to the chains. I have to jump on that moment to make it some sort of learning activity. Otherwise, I missed an opportunity. It may even boil down to the child just wanting to take the chains off and hang them back up. What a great lesson in length, fine motor skills, and careful movement.<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">I'd love to hear the language you'd have used with the group of artists, but I guess my question is why would the teacher need to figure out an activity for them -- the kids had already, clearly, figured out an activity that worked for them -- and it was, IMO, a really valuable activity one that encouraged a lot of creativity, fine motor, language, social etc . . . skills. I don't think the children were under any illusion that they had "chosen" maps. They had chosen to take their materials from the map making center because that's where the biggest pieces of paper were plus lots of nice colored pencils.<br><br>
They took the map pieces off the shelf because they felt the need to "cover up" what they were doing, and that's where I had questions -- why is drawing something to be covered up? Perhaps there was already a center where kids were allowed to draw freely (I didn't see one, every set of art materials I saw except for the easels was connected to some kind of a close ended task -- e.g. under a vase of flowers to draw, or next to some stencils to trace, but I admit that I didn't examine every center closely), but even so if the kids had decided to draw at the map center because they felt like using square paper and the paper at the art center was rectangular, or the pencils there were particularly inviting, or they were cold and wanted to work close to the radiator, why wasn't the message "I put these map pieces here because you might want to use them, but of course you might have another equally valid way to use these materials". Even if that wasn't the original message they were given, why couldn't the teacher had said something like "It looks like you're choosing to draw for your work today. You seem to be enjoying that choice. Why don't you put the map pieces away in case someone else wants to use them while you're drawing." that made it clear that their choice was an acceptable one?</td>
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That is hard for me to say without being in the classroom itself. A lot of what is in the Montessori classroom is there with a specific purpose in mind. Part of this is developmental, where the ages of birth - 3 is a time when students are learning certain skills, such as order, language, independence, coordination, and concentraion. In the 3-6 years, they learn how to refine those things. So there are some things in the classroom we have that "this is for this purpose and that is what it should be used for.<br><br>
It seems everyone has different ideas about what should fall under that "this has some flexibility in the materials and this one does not." I might be more inclined to step in a little on this one just based off my perception and guide it to a different area where they could do the same activity. The reason being, for me, is simply that rule, "don't do for one child what you don't want 25 others doing." The larger paper for the maps is more expensive and was probably cut to fit the size of the map. So that is how I would approach it with the children. Language I would use?<br><br>
"I love what you're doing here. It sounds like you're coming up with creative ideas. The only problem is if I let you do this with the map paper, everyone might start doing it with the map paper and we might run out. Can we continue this on something else?" We'll brainstorm other ways we can do this and I'll let them decide which one sounds best. I'd also ask if I can hear the story when they are done with the pictures.<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">One thing I will comment, was that I was impressed with the ways that kids found creative uses for familiar materials at this school. Both the little boy I mentioned and the group of girls really stuck with the materials in a very nice, focused way and did some very creative things with them (especially the boy -- honestly he was amazing, I have never seen such a young child come up with so many neat ways to use a handful of different colored blocks -- it was particularly interesting in that before the teacher brought him to the table he was running around in a very chaotic manner, stepping on other kids work and generally being pretty disruptive). I wondered if that ability to be creative with something familiar comes from the fact that the materials and the environment changed so little that the change had to come from him. However, if so then this is potentially a great strength for Montessori, IMO, and I'm not sure why it would be treated like a liability.</td>
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There was a survey done by John Chattin-McNichols about how often teachers would interfere with students when they began to imagine other things with the materials.<br><br>
Generally speaking, the majority said "Never" to "Sometimes" with very specific questions. There were a decent amount that said they "Would usually" step in and the smallest numbers said they would "almost always" step in or "always" step in. The only thing that got an overwhelming "Always" response was a question on children lining up counters beginning to play a battle game with them. I instinctively would say I would step in on this too, but am curious why. Been something I've been pondering since I read the study last week. (For more detailed information, check out his book, "The Montessori Controversy," Chapter 12. Many libraries have it.)<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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As a teacher myself I totally get the liability piece, but frankly I would have been happy enough with -- if you're reading a book and you'd like a little fresh air you can sit on the little porch outside the glass door and read there, or if you want to stretch your legs, you can walk to the fence of the riding arena and back, plus maybe since there were 2 teachers, if a critical mass wants to take a break on the play equipment or collect things at the edge of the woods they can do so with an adult.</td>
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I'm for that, too. As long as there's good visibility and a good system to monitor it. The 3-6 Program at Xavier has an outdoor area and I think I remember painting outside, but it's been ?? years. (Not going to give away my age), so I do not remember clearly.<br><br>
In 9-12, we had science expirements where we had to go outside. We'd have to let the teacher know we were going outside, and we did it right by the window there in clear view.<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">I'm not quite sure I get your implication that in a developmental preschool it wouldn't be child centered, or how you're picturing it done.</td>
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I was saying there are ways to do it to make it child centered. So it would be a good activity. (One I have thought about adding to my album)<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">Is that similar to what would have happened in a Montessori school?</td>
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It could, yes. Montessori materials, in general, are:<br><br>
1) Able to be done by the student independently after being presented.<br>
2) Have some sort of control of error. (In this case, does it float and move?)<br><br>
That's not to say that children cannot work together on this....they can. Just thinking if I were to fit it into a 3 hour work cycle that the children CAN do independently, how would I do it? Have some ideas :)<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">Again, thanks for putting up with my questions. As a teacher I'm always wanting to improve my practice, so knowing how other people do something is really helpful.<br><br>
Momily</td>
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Glad to do it <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"><br><br>
Matt
 

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To the OP's original question: my experience is with waldorf, pub. school and a tiny bit of homeschooling. No Mont. experience except following that board with interest. I would say waldorf is about as far away from unschooling as you can get, and in fact is rigidly traditional in many senses. IME, little boys with mechanical leanings can struggle a lot with the curriculum as that sort of interest is not well dealt with. I have found much more diversity in meeting children's need in the pub. school, and the curriculum so far has been much more engaging.
 

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I wanted to address some of the questions/comments that Momily had, but I have to say, I'm really tired right now, so i may stick my foot in my mouth. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/orngbiggrin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="orange big grin"><br><br>
One of the things I often see asked about Montessori schools is about creative use of the materials. In my training, we learned that Dr. Montessori did originally place toys as well as the Montessori materials in the classroom and the children never used them. Given the choice, they chose to use the Montessori materials and eventually the toys were given away. Adults often have a preconceived notion about "work" or "study" or "academics" and that it is difficult and boring. Children don't have this idea unless we give it to them. They are presented a wide variety of choices from a number of different curricular areas and they have the choice to use anything that has been presented to them.<br><br>
The choices of work include such things as math, geometry, language, history, geography, art, music, and biology. The environment is ideally supposed to include both the indoors and out, with children being able to move freely between the two (usually with some method of informing an adult that they are leaving the room and with boundaries of how far they are allowed to go safely). Children participate in things such as gardening, cooking, sewing, knitting, painting, collecting and examining specimens, choosing and researching their own topics of interest, creating timelines and posters, planning their own "going outs" (like a filed trip for a small group to explore a topic in more depth, such as a trip to a museum to learn more about fossils), playing the tone bars and other instruments, as well as the more traditional "schoolwork" of math, language arts, etc.<br><br>
The example given of the child that had just moved up to the primary class and only had 3 choices of work to do. It may be that the child was overwhelmed by more choices than that, or that the teacher was trying to foster independence by giving her jobs she could do by herself. That is very developmentally appropriate for a child that age, the desire to do things without adult help. I also know that when my daughter (she's 3) needs to pick out clothes to wear, I don't give her the choice of every single outfit she owns. It would overwhelm her, she'd likely pick something that wouldn't be suited to the weather, it would take a long time, and likely we'd both end up frustrated. In an effort to save us both time and frustration and to give her a chance to be successful, I limit her choices. I'm sure the little girl observed soon was able to choose from 4, 5, or 6 choices. Maybe the following week she had 10 or 12.<br><br>
The girls working on maps...well, if that were my classroom I'd simply tell them that if they preferred to draw or write a story, then the maps would just need to be put away first and they were welcome to take out drawing material. However, depending on the age of the children in question, if they were choosing drawing over and over without varying their type of work, then I'd have a responsibility as a teacher to introduce new topics and try to pique the children's interest in them. It may be that the teacher felt that the maps might capture the children's interest because of the drawing aspect involved with the activity.<br><br>
Another general comment I hear about the use of the imagination and creativity is that Montessori schools don't allow this. I think that depends on how you define creativity and imagination. I mentioned on another thread one time that if I want to explore creatively, I use my spinning wheel or pick up my knitting. I don't pick a power tool and imagine that it is a rowboat. There are certain things for which some uses are the most appropriate. This is true for the Montessori materials. They are specifically designed to teach certain concepts. However, if a child want to draw, or built, or write a story, then he or she can be directed towards the art area, to use clay or pencils or to some blank paper for story writing. My three year-old brings home countless paintings and sewing projects from her school on an almost daily basis. The kids in the classroom I am student teaching in are making their own knitting needles and today learned a neat technique for wrapping and bending wire to make sculptures.<br><br>
It is true that pretend type play isn't encouraged with dress-up or play kitchens and the like in a Montessori preschool. Montessori believed that the time for introducing fantasy was after children were able to firmly distinguish reality from imagination. If this is an aspect you don't entirely agree with, it is pretty easily to supplement with dress-up and pretend at home (I do!) Imagination is encouraged in elementary in that it is the vehicle through which nearly every concept is taught. For example, we can;t actually visit the sun, but we can help a child use his or her imagination when we discuss the heat, the size, the energy, and the effects the sun has on the earth. Imagination is also used as a tool by children as once they have gained certain concepts they are able to then invent and explore and extrapolate.<br><br>
I would say more, but I have to get my kids to bed. I know I've written on this topic before and you might be able to find some of my posts or Lilliana (also an AMI trained teacher). There is a great book out now called Montessori, the Science Behind the Genius (or something to that effect) that is all about how the observations made by Maria Montessori 100 years ago about children have proven to be accurate in terms of how the brain develops and how children learn.<br><br>
I think that going to a Montessori school to observe is one thing, but if you're approaching it from the perspective of a different type of training you may not see quite the same things in it that you would after you have read a bit more about Montessori. I was public school trained and at first I felt that montessori was a bunch of hooey! I thought washing tables and no pretend play sounded miserable for small children. I've learned so much and done pretty much a complete 180 as I sold my home, and moved 3000 miles with my children and husband in order to take this training. Both my girls, 6 and 3, are enrolled in a Montessori school as well. I can't tell you how many times I learned about a Montessori piece of material in my training and nearly cried. Both from excitement and sadness that I didn't learn it that way. It sounds like I am exaggerating, but the trinomial cube is actually an example of that. I took pre-algebra, algebra I (twice!), and Algebra II, and I never understood what squaring or cubing a trinomial meant any more than I needed to scrape by on the test. I then promptly forgot it all. Now I completely understand it, backwards, forwards and sideways, and not only that, I can easily teach the concepts to a 10 year old!
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Lousli</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/11055210"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I wanted to address some of the questions/comments that Momily had, but I have to say, I'm really tired right now, so i may stick my foot in my mouth. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/orngbiggrin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="orange big grin"><br><br>
One of the things I often see asked about Montessori schools is about creative use of the materials. In my training, we learned that Dr. Montessori did originally place toys as well as the Montessori materials in the classroom and the children never used them. Given the choice, they chose to use the Montessori materials and eventually the toys were given away. Adults often have a preconceived notion about "work" or "study" or "academics" and that it is difficult and boring. Children don't have this idea unless we give it to them. They are presented a wide variety of choices from a number of different curricular areas and they have the choice to use anything that has been presented to them.<br><br>
The choices of work include such things as math, geometry, language, history, geography, art, music, and biology. The environment is ideally supposed to include both the indoors and out, with children being able to move freely between the two (usually with some method of informing an adult that they are leaving the room and with boundaries of how far they are allowed to go safely). Children participate in things such as gardening, cooking, sewing, knitting, painting, collecting and examining specimens, choosing and researching their own topics of interest, creating timelines and posters, planning their own "going outs" (like a filed trip for a small group to explore a topic in more depth, such as a trip to a museum to learn more about fossils), playing the tone bars and other instruments, as well as the more traditional "schoolwork" of math, language arts, etc.<br><br>
The example given of the child that had just moved up to the primary class and only had 3 choices of work to do. It may be that the child was overwhelmed by more choices than that, or that the teacher was trying to foster independence by giving her jobs she could do by herself. That is very developmentally appropriate for a child that age, the desire to do things without adult help. I also know that when my daughter (she's 3) needs to pick out clothes to wear, I don't give her the choice of every single outfit she owns. It would overwhelm her, she'd likely pick something that wouldn't be suited to the weather, it would take a long time, and likely we'd both end up frustrated. In an effort to save us both time and frustration and to give her a chance to be successful, I limit her choices. I'm sure the little girl observed soon was able to choose from 4, 5, or 6 choices. Maybe the following week she had 10 or 12.<br><br>
The girls working on maps...well, if that were my classroom I'd simply tell them that if they preferred to draw or write a story, then the maps would just need to be put away first and they were welcome to take out drawing material. However, depending on the age of the children in question, if they were choosing drawing over and over without varying their type of work, then I'd have a responsibility as a teacher to introduce new topics and try to pique the children's interest in them. It may be that the teacher felt that the maps might capture the children's interest because of the drawing aspect involved with the activity.<br><br>
Another general comment I hear about the use of the imagination and creativity is that Montessori schools don't allow this. I think that depends on how you define creativity and imagination. I mentioned on another thread one time that if I want to explore creatively, I use my spinning wheel or pick up my knitting. I don't pick a power tool and imagine that it is a rowboat. There are certain things for which some uses are the most appropriate. This is true for the Montessori materials. They are specifically designed to teach certain concepts. However, if a child want to draw, or built, or write a story, then he or she can be directed towards the art area, to use clay or pencils or to some blank paper for story writing. My three year-old brings home countless paintings and sewing projects from her school on an almost daily basis. The kids in the classroom I am student teaching in are making their own knitting needles and today learned a neat technique for wrapping and bending wire to make sculptures.<br><br>
It is true that pretend type play isn't encouraged with dress-up or play kitchens and the like in a Montessori preschool. Montessori believed that the time for introducing fantasy was after children were able to firmly distinguish reality from imagination. If this is an aspect you don't entirely agree with, it is pretty easily to supplement with dress-up and pretend at home (I do!) Imagination is encouraged in elementary in that it is the vehicle through which nearly every concept is taught. For example, we can;t actually visit the sun, but we can help a child use his or her imagination when we discuss the heat, the size, the energy, and the effects the sun has on the earth. Imagination is also used as a tool by children as once they have gained certain concepts they are able to then invent and explore and extrapolate.<br><br>
I would say more, but I have to get my kids to bed. I know I've written on this topic before and you might be able to find some of my posts or Lilliana (also an AMI trained teacher). There is a great book out now called Montessori, the Science Behind the Genius (or something to that effect) that is all about how the observations made by Maria Montessori 100 years ago about children have proven to be accurate in terms of how the brain develops and how children learn.<br><br>
I think that going to a Montessori school to observe is one thing, but if you're approaching it from the perspective of a different type of training you may not see quite the same things in it that you would after you have read a bit more about Montessori. I was public school trained and at first I felt that montessori was a bunch of hooey! I thought washing tables and no pretend play sounded miserable for small children. I've learned so much and done pretty much a complete 180 as I sold my home, and moved 3000 miles with my children and husband in order to take this training. Both my girls, 6 and 3, are enrolled in a Montessori school as well. I can't tell you how many times I learned about a Montessori piece of material in my training and nearly cried. Both from excitement and sadness that I didn't learn it that way. It sounds like I am exaggerating, but the trinomial cube is actually an example of that. I took pre-algebra, algebra I (twice!), and Algebra II, and I never understood what squaring or cubing a trinomial meant any more than I needed to scrape by on the test. I then promptly forgot it all. Now I completely understand it, backwards, forwards and sideways, and not only that, I can easily teach the concepts to a 10 year old!</div>
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RIGHT ON!!<br><br>
TO OP: I thinking Montessori for your ds. I often think it is much like unschooling in that the child is given alot of responsibility for his own achievements, work/time frame and choice of activity and subject. Also, children can work at their own pace so he can go as fast or as slow as he needs to in any subject.
 

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I posted this in another forum. It may help.<br><br>
_______<br><br>
I sometimes jump on yahoo answers and answer Montessori questions. I came across the question, "What exactly does a Montessori School teach?"<br><br>
I started typing and it took about a half hour to answer. So I wanted to share it with others. The last part is the most important part, in my opinion.<br><br>
__________________________<br><br>
Since you asked in preschool, I assume you're asking about the Montessori 3-6 classroom. Although there are programs in Montessori for infant all the way up through high school, I'll answer with 3-6 and try to give you a good, broad picture of the rest of the educational system as well.<br><br>
Maria Montessori was actually a medical doctor who later became in charge of a small day care area where she wanted to see if her ideas on education that she formed while working with mentally retarded children would work on children that generally had no known medical issues that would inhibit their learning. This is important because, being a doctor and scientist, the Montessori method is a very scientific method of education.<br><br>
What Maria Montessori did was observe children. She set up an environment where children were free to explore. Through the practical life materials, they began to develop life skills of how to care for themselves. They began to develop their senses through the sensorial materials. They began building their concentration to fascinating levels. They began taking on an inner discipline that confused teachers who came in to try to give them rewards, to children very uninterested in medals, candy, and other such external rewards. Everyone was amazed at how easily these children learned to read and write, do math, and treat each other with respect. They did it all while loving it as well, which is even more amazing.<br><br>
It wasn't long before Montessori schools branched out into what are traditionally thought of as more academic areas. In the 3-6 curriculum, there are 6 overall areas:<br><br>
--Practical Life: This area is designed to help students develop a care for themselves, the environment, and each other. Children learn how to do things from pouring and scooping, using various kitchen utensils, washing dishes, shining objects, scrubbing tables, and cleaning up. They also learn how to dress themselves, tie their shoes, wash their hands, and other various self-care needs. They learn these through a wide variety of materials and activities.<br><br>
While caring for yourself and your environment is an important part of Montessori Practical Life education in these years, it also prepares the child for so much more. The activities build a child's concentration as well as being designed in many cases to prepare the child for writing. For the first three years of life, children absorb a sense of order in their environment. They learn how to act a certain way naturally by absorbing it. These ages, from 3-6, the children are learning how to both build their own order and discover, understand, and refine the order they already know. So it's typical for you to see a child spend a half hour working on one practical life activity with a strong concentration and attention to detail. Language preparation comes in many forms in the practical life area. The setup is from left to right, top to bottom, as much as possible. Many of the fine motor skills being used involve a pencil grip and help the child develop that grip to be able to later use a pencil more easily.<br><br>
--Sensorial: All learning first comes to us through the senses. By isolating something we are trying to teach the child, the child can more easily focus on it. For example, we do not teach colors by having the child think of everything that is blue - blue jeans, the sky, iceburgs, a picture of a blue cartoon elephant hanging on a wall. We teach them by using color tablets. The color tablets are all exactly the same except for one thing - their color in the middle. This helps take away the confusion for the child and helps them to focus on specifically what blue is. We also feel it is important to be exact with children and provide them with correct information. We do not call an oval an "egg shape." An egg isn't even in the shape of an oval - it's in the shape of an ovoid. Children learn much more quickly if you're exact and accurate with them, since it takes away so much of the confusion. The sensorial area also falls over into the math area quite regularly. The red rods in the sensorial area are a direct link to the segmented rods in math that teach 1-10. The pink tower has a connection to units and thousands that the child learns later in the 3-6 curriculum. Even the trinomial cube will be used in the elementary years to figure out complex mathmatical formulas.<br><br>
--Cultural: This includes both the studies of the world and various cultures. Montessori children come out of a 3-6 environment not only understanding the concept of a continent, country, and state, but also the names of many countries around the world. I had one student that fell in love with the Montessori maps and decided to learn all the countries of the world by the time he was finished with Kindergarten. More power to him. He came pretty close, but just had fun doing it and it was easy for him, so why stand in his way?<br><br>
More importantly, the goal is to get an understanding that there are various cultures and these cultures have a lot to offer us. When a student is doing the map of Asia, pictures, stories, facts about different Asian countries, and a variety of learning opportunities open up to give the child a real sense of the world and how it is different - even within the same area.<br><br>
--Science: Children at this age are very detail oriented. They know what a bird is. Now they want to know the various body part of a bird. They want to know the life cycle of different animals. They begin to really look at the parts of a plant and wonder, "What are those long things coming out of the middle of a flower?" The science curriculum takes the opportunity for the child's natural questioning and draws a fascinating curriculum for the 3-6 age range. What I really enjoy about this area is this is where I learn the most. Children ask questions I cannot answer, so I have to find it out. Or we might be studying something I know nothing about, so I have to learn as well. When the teacher is learning, the children really see that and get excited about learning too.<br><br>
Language: The language curriculum involves everything from vocabulary development to writing to reading. Children learn their basic letter sounds through the use of sandpaper letters, where the letters are cut from sandpaper and glued to a wooden board. As the child traces the letter, they get a real image for how the letter feels. They can also feel if a mistake was made because of the different feel of the sandpaper from the board. They begin making words before they can read words with the movable alphabet. It's fun to watch children spell out a word, but not be able to read it. Quite interesting, too.<br><br>
--Math: The math area is the area most people find the most fascinating. Children go from a very concrete understanding of math to a more abstract concept. Children in a Montessori classroom know the difference between 1, 10, 100, and 1000 because they have felt it countless times. They felt it originally in the pink tower and later in the math materials. It includes things such as addition and subtraction of 4 digit numbers, basic multiplication and division, and the understanding of various mathmatical concepts such as odd and even.<br><br>
The learning goals of Montessori are quite different than that of traditional education. By not having set goals that have to be met, the child is free to explore these materials and activities when he or she is ready. As a result, we get the maximum results the child can produce rather than something set by a syllabus. If we were to say that Montessori does have goals, it would be to develop a person who:<br><br>
--Has a lifelong love of learning<br>
--Has a more empathetic view to the world<br>
--Is self-motivated<br>
--Is able to form answers and analyse situations on his or her own rather than relying on someone else, such as a teacher.<br>
--Has internalized discipline<br>
--Understands that no matter what they do, they are an important part of society<br><br>
With that comes a very individual respect for each child by the teacher. The teacher sees them not as either children that can follow the rules or can't follow the rules. The teacher sees them as a developing person who has great potential that should be fostered.<br><br>
Hope this helped!<br>
Matt
 

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I'll come right out and say I am a Waldorf teacher, and for your special needs child, I would strongly encourage you to consider the teacher who will be with your child the most in your search. I have taught many children with special needs, challenges or what ever term you want to use. I think the most important thing that made it work was the connection between myself and the child. All the theory in the world won't matter unless there is a strong and loving connection.<br><br>
I have to say that in all my years of teaching I think it comes down to lots of free play time and lots of opportunity for real, engaged work to be done. A daily schedule that lives and breathes with the children. The longer I teach the more I find the children need less stuff and more time to interact in a healthy social way that allows for free imagniative play.<br><br>
good luck on your search!<br>
trisha
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>MattBronsil</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/11073162"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">--Math: The math area is the area most people find the most fascinating. Children go from a very concrete understanding of math to a more abstract concept. Children in a Montessori classroom know the difference between 1, 10, 100, and 1000 because they have felt it countless times. They felt it originally in the pink tower and later in the math materials. It includes things such as addition and subtraction of 4 digit numbers, basic multiplication and division, and the understanding of various mathematical concepts such as odd and even.</div>
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I don't know, though, that there is any evidence that former Montessori students who could do advanced (compared to typical) math at 6 do better at math when they are teenagers or adults?<br><br>
OP, is there a reason you want to use preschool? I didn't go to preschool and my kids don't go to preschool or want to. Furthermore if you had made me interact with a bunch of preschoolers for 3 hours a day when I was 3 or 4 I would have been completely miserable. I was highly gifted.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>pigpokey</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/11694950"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I don't know, though, that there is any evidence that former Montessori students who could do advanced (compared to typical) math at 6 do better at math when they are teenagers or adults?<br><br>
OP, is there a reason you want to use preschool? I didn't go to preschool and my kids don't go to preschool or want to. Furthermore if you had made me interact with a bunch of preschoolers for 3 hours a day when I was 3 or 4 I would have been completely miserable. I was highly gifted.</div>
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I'm not sending my kids to Montessori school in the hopes that they will do better at math (or anything else really) than they would if they had gone to another type of school. I send them to montessori school because I want them to enjoy school, to have a love of learning that lasts their whole life. I want them to be treated respectfully by their teacher and peers, and allowed to make choices and to o things independently.<br><br>
Because children in Montessori are taught individually or in small groups, their needs are met by their teacher and their lessons are tailored to their specific academic progress. Therefore a child who is gifted in certain areas can get instruction that is more advanced in those areas and still work at a different level in an area in which he or she is not as strong. Children work in classrooms of 3 year age spans, so it is not uncommon for a child who is advanced in one area to be working with peers that are older. The groups are not at all static, they change with every lesson.<br><br>
In the preschool age classrooms, most of the work is done individually, since that is what children in that developmental stage do best. They still do interact with one another and socialize, but work is usually done alone. In my experience, the interactions they have with one another help them develop social skills, peaceful problem solving, and courtesy.<br><br>
I often see the idea that Montessori classrooms are these miserable places where we force academics down children's throats before they are ready to learn and that all they do is "work." I think it is a really common misconception and that it is important to recognize that there is much more freedom given in a Montessori setting than most people realize. The guide presents the lessons to the child but the child has the choice to do or not to do the work after the presentation. He or she may also choose to do any of the other works in the classroom environment (including outside), which include academics but also gardening, art, music, etc.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>pigpokey</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/11694950"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I don't know, though, that there is any evidence that former Montessori students who could do advanced (compared to typical) math at 6 do better at math when they are teenagers or adults?<br></div>
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I agree with the response above about not putting a child in Montessori strictly for academic reasons. To answer this specific question, however, the long term studies have shown differences through high school in students that attended Montessori classes in 3-6.<br><br>
As a personal note, I remember sitting in class in high school wondering why students did not understand certain things, such as being able to visually see that a trapezoid could be divided up into a rectangle and 2 triangles (important for figuring out the area) or the fact that the side of a pyramid is going to be longer than that imaginary line from the point to the base.<br><br>
It wasn't until I got back into Montessori that it made sense that these things are just a part of my early sensorial experience in Montessori.<br><br>
I did go through elementary, though, so I'd be curious how much of that was reinforced by my elementary experiences where I took several of these things and was able to manipulate it using math.<br><br>
I think if there is a time period of non-growth, it's mostly because the school they transfer into does not keep moving forward.<br><br>
Matt
 

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There's been lots of great information in this thread on different philosophies and I've enjoyed reading them. I would like to say first and foremost that while understanding philosophies is one thing, there can be variations from one school to the next. While I generally would not recomend Waldorf for the type of child you detailed (too structured, too limited academically and creatively), Waldorf schools can differ greatly. I would suggest checking out local options personally and asking each of them your questions (this holds true for any school with any teaching methodology).<br><br>
Of the two options I would say Montesori. But, I do have my own bias and I will throw a wrench into the mix and suggest you see if there are any Reggio Emilia schools in your area. <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reggio_Emilia_approach" target="_blank">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reggio_Emilia_approach</a>.<br><br>
As far as private schools and scholarships go. Our eldest goes to a private RE inspired school. They offer scholarships and place much value on the continuity of education. Their scholarship philosophy is that once you get it, you've got it, unless something changes with your finances that would allow you to pay for school. In simple terms if you qualified and then during the year received a standard cost of living raise it would not negate your scholarship the following year. But, if you switched jobs and started making $15,000 more a year, and the school cost $6,000 you probably would not qualify. I don't believe it hurts anything to try, as long as you can remain removed enough from the process to not be devasted if you don't qualify for the intitial scholarship. Some schools will offer general information on their scholarship levels and status.<br><br>
We have friends who DC's are on partial scholarship to attend a private school. Her husband was recently laid off and they spoke with the school to let them know they would not be able to make their payment for the second half of the school year. The school told them not to worry about it. Their priority was to the children.
 

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If you are interested in unschooling you may want to see if there are any democratic or Sudbury schools in your area. My son is thriving in one, and it's basically unschooling in a group environment. The tuition also tends to be much lower than in other private schools.
 
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