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I've always loved Montessori's education philosophy - particularly for young kids. I loved the idea of hand to brain learning, "guiding" as opposed to teaching, and treating children with respect. Recently, I've been reading "Montessori from the Start" which is about how to incorporate Montessori ideals in the home from age 0-3. I'm glad I'm reading the book & it has a lot of interesting insights. But I am simultaneously feeling annoyed by it. I realized that its not just this but everything I've read about Mont has this condescending tone. Its like EVERYTHING matters SO much...whether I give my kid a regular cup or sippy cup seems to be a monumental choice which will affect my child's self esteem? I mean come on! How anul can we get? I like reading it, I think the ideals are great but at the same time - eveything is SO SERIOUS. Whatever happened to PLAY? Where's the fun? I also find myself questioning what scientific evidence is behind it. Anyone else have this experience w/Montessori?
 

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I have done some research and visited over 20 preschools in my search for a good one for my son. One long term study done by Head Start in the U.S. found that boys who attended a Montessori preschool sustained higher scores on standardized tests in math and reading through High school. The boys who attended a traditional preschool did well in grades 1-3 but then fell behind.

My ds just started a Montessori preschool and he loves it. It is really a good thing for boys, they can "work" independently and at their own pace. They are not forced to sit still for circle time or to do crafts as a group which is what most traditional preschools do. The environment is set up so well for kids. They can choose to do water play, fine motor skills large motor skills, etc. A simple task like spooning rice grains from one cup to another helps their fine motor skills, concentration abilities and prepares them for reading because they learn to work from left to right. They are taught respect and independence for each other and their class materials. They prepare their own snacks and mark their place at the table with their name. They wash and put their dishes away after snack and use real dishes. Sandpaper letters are used to teach the alphabet so they can see and feel the letter. Montessori teaches using all of the senses. They are learning geography, days of the week, singing, music, languages, and socialization through very well-planned activities that promote independence. I think that if you just remember M. Montessori's statement for children "help me to help myself" you are doing a lot for the child. If you go to a Montessori preschool to observe, you will see for yourself the differences in the methodology and how the children act. To me, Montessori is much more respectful of the child then the mindless play I have seen in some preschools which is just keeping them busy and out of trouble. MOntessori children's activities are so well thought out, they challenge the child and his brain, you will see real concentration in a 3-year old in a Montessor school. ANyway, Montessori work is play, the children play at making bubbles, washing windows, all of the pretend play they like to do. Making bubbles is not just blowing bubbles - they measure water and soap, pour it in a bowl, then use a hand egg beater to beat the bubbles. They are learning sequence of events, following directions, measuring, and technique and it is fun for them. A child's job is to play, that is their work and they love it. They want to do the real things that we do in daily life like hammer nails, grow plants, care for animals, etc. I felt the same way you did until I saw how much fun the kids have at school. At our school they also have ample free time on the playground outdoors to just run and jump and climb and play.

The Montessori class is also set up differently than a traditional preschool. Traditional preschools have dress-up, kitchen area, cars, blocks, reading areas. Montessori has areas of practical life, sensorial, mathematics (based upon the decimal system), language, and cultural enrichment. Parents of kids in our school say it is wonderful for building confidence in children.

The sippy cup thing is just one of many ways people can tell their kids they are not capable of doing it themself. I would often like to just put my son in his carseat and leave (especially if we are in a hurry) but he likes to buckle up himself so I let him. It takes much longer to prepare a meal with his help but he loves to help so I let him.
 

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When searching for preschool for my dd, we visited three Montesorri schools because everyone raves about them.

Honestly? I hated them. I felt they were too "academic" for kids. They were quiet and structured. It seemed very unnatural for me to see kids like that.

My guess on why Montesorri kids do better in school is because, well, most of them are rich kids anyways and have LOTS of other benefits of that......

I chose a pre school that was super NON structured, the kids run around on a playground that rivals Disneyland, and the vast majority of their time is doing crazy creative stuff. They have LOTS of pretend and imaginary type play, they do plays and sing alongs all the time......and I love it. My dd is 4 and actually doing a bit of reading now, in spite of her non structured setting.

Anyways.........that was my experience. I can see how some kids would benefit from it and how some parents may prefer it. For us, it wasn't my cup of tea.
 

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my brother who is 7 is in a montessori school. parts of it are really great and other things are not. he likes the activities and the kids in his class but his teachers push him really hard. he basically skipped kindergarten so he is with the older kids, which is great for him academically, but if he doesn't finish his work plans his teachers threaten to send him back to the younger class. I don't like the threat and I thought that the whole point was to let them go at his own pace, but they won't allow him to be in the middle. That might be in part because of the personality of his teachers, I am not sure.

I have very mixed feelings about it, but it seems to be better than the alternative.

louise
mama to juniper
wife to ben
 

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One important thing to remember is that use of the term "Montessori" is not regulated- so you will see very different things at "Montessori" schools. I have seen both great and terrible "Montessori" schools.

Ok now I'm nak---

I worked in a montessori school at one point, and there were aspects that I liked and those I did not. One thing I didn't care for was the structure, esp. with art, I prefer a more open ended, non-structured art approach. Keep in mind I am talking only of montessori pre-schools here. Things I did like were the "natural" aspects, where the kids made snack, cleaned up, etc. Another downside was that certain materials were only for specific activities, ie- pattern blocks were for making patterns and were not to be used for building.

I also liked the discipline approach at the children's house I taught at- like- there was no "time out" or punishments, just lots of re-direction.

I'd like to say more, but made my main points already- not all montessori are created equally- and there are good and bad points with montessori just like any other program- I think in choosing a school- it is good to spend an entire couple of days there (most children's houses would let your child "try it out" for a few days), and really get to know the teachers, and the teacher turn-over rate- b/c while montessori is usually more expensive than traditional pre-school- the teachers are usually paid less (and often no benefits) than public pre-school teachers.
 

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Some children do really well in Mont others don't do so well. It depends on the child, enviorment, and teacher. Dr. Mont was a great women who was very respected. You can take from her what works for your child and leave the rest at the door.

Personally, I am in love with Waldorf Education. If you really want to nurture your child's play this is the best style IMO. I encourage you to also look into Unschooling.

Keep researching and you'll find the best style or combo of styles that work best for you and your dc. Don't feel like you have to do anything by the book and do everything from the heart.
 

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Yes, of course kids need a sippy cup for a period of time but can quickly learn to drink from a cup (and pour). I let my ds practice with a child-sized pitcher and cup at his little table on our sunporch so spills were not a big deal. We used water so it would not stain or smell. He also liked to sit in our kitchen sink while I would cook dinner and pour and pour and drink ouot of a cup (at around age 15 months on or so).

Anothermama, you are probably right about most Montessori kids doing better because of other benefits they receive. The Headstart Montessori kids did better (in high school even) due to Montessori because in order to qualify for Headstart, they have to be socioeconomically disadvantaged.

Montessori is not for everyone, and there are benefits to all preschool programs (traditional, Waldorf, Montessori, home school, church based). I visited 3 Montessori schools and did not like 2 out of the 3 I saw. I was concerned about Montessori being so regimented and structured that it would interfere with imaginary play but I saw them have equal free time on the playground for imaginary play. Also, at home you can make up for any areas your preschool is lacking in as long as you are aware of it and make a reasonable effort.
 

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TMmom-Thanks for starting this thread. I don't have much to add, but it is particularly helpful as we approach preschool age with DS.

I do have to add that I have many friends and acquaintances who have preschool-age children. I know 2 children currently who are in Montessori and they are not from rich families. I think this may be a stereotype of sorts of some of the "brand-name" preschools. My close friend and her DH do the co-op thing and scrape and save to send their children to Montessorit. They are not rich.

Hope everyone makes a choice that is right for them and more importantly, their child.
 

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I also worked in a Montessori school for over 3 years and am a certified Montessori pre-school teacher. I quit work when my daughter was born. Although, I love many things about Montessori, I'm not sure I will send dd there. If I do decide to send her to any school in my area, it would be Montessori, b/c I feel it is the best here about teaching respect for herself and others. However, I am seriously leaning toward home-schooling using a combo of Montessori and Waldorf techniques.

IMO, Montessori can too be to rigid in terms of how the "work" is used. The material is set up to be used in certain ways and children are re-directed or asked to put it away if they are not using it "correctly." For example, the pink cubes are meant to be used for grading from smallest to largest. If a child is building them and knocking them down, he is disrespecting the material (according to Montessori philosophy) and is asked to put them away. IMO, there are many other ways a child could use a particular thing, and this is disruptive to that creativity.

From simply observing for a short time, Montessori does not appear to be stuctured, but it really is. The teachers keep very detailed records about each child and know exactly where there may fall academically. Every piece of work in the Montessori classroom has an academic goal. The children may work at their own pace, but if they still have to fulfill the academic goals laid out for them by the teachers (particularly the kindergartners and upper grades).

I really feel that creativity and imagination are not encouraged and emphasized in the Montessori classroom, which is why I love Waldorf.

All this said, I do love how Montessori encourages respect and regard for all living things. We had a peace rose in our classroom and encouraged open dialouge for resolving conflicts. Independence is also emphasized in Montessori.
 

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Our church has a Montessori school and I like it alot more than what I see from a lot of the other preschools around here. It seems that most of the preschools here are glorified daycare facilities. What they are doing at those type of preschools I can do with ds at home and at playgroup. One of the things I dont like about Montessori is that they insist that all children attend 5 days a week from aroun 830 - 230. Not only is that too long for my ds ( hes 2 years old and I was thinking of sending him to preschool in the Fall of 2005) imo. But I dont want to send him 5 days a week. I would want to maybe send him 2 half days the first year and then 3 half days the second year before I send him to kinder. I dont know why I would want to send him to school full time so young especially since I am a sahm. ugh so much to consider! There is a Waldorf preschool around here, but it is in downtown San Diego, about 45 minutes away. Too far for us to drive, especially if I have any younger kids at that time. I wish there was one closer to us because they really sound awesome!
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by siddie
The Headstart Montessori kids did better (in high school even) due to Montessori because in order to qualify for Headstart, they have to be socioeconomically disadvantaged.
Just to play devil's advocate: The kids in the Montessori Headstart program had parents who, regardless of their socioeconomic levels, were concerned enough about their child's education that they made the effort to get them into a Headstart program AND were informed enough about educational options that they made the additional effort to get them into not just any Headstart program but a Montessori Headstart program.

That sort of commitment on the part of a parent does not end when the child "graduates" from preschool but likely remains throughout the child's education. Given this, based on the information that we have from these posts, we have know way of knowing if these boys excelled all the way through high school because of the preschool that they attended or because of the parental commitment, involvement, and values that led to their attending that preschool in the first place.

For the record, I don't have much of an opinion about the Montessori approach one way or the other. I certainly don't have anything against it. I just wasn't quite convinced by the argument about causation that was being made.
 

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Just have to add my two cents here...our boys went to part-time Montessori preschool (parent coop) for about one and half years and then were home for about one and half years (greatly encouraged and admired by the Montessori teachers, btw) and now are back in Montessori preschool and school (both public here in Sweden) at ages 4 1/2 and 6 (in a different city). I think the main point above which is the most true in our case is that no two Montessori schools (or any for that matter) are alike and ANY school or preschool you are considering for your child should be thoroughly researched first. We visited each preschool/school without our children for several hours, observed the groups and teachers during regular days, and went to information evenings. I can add that I did not like the Montessori grade school in the first city at all and never would have chosen it. I was even reluctant to visit our school.
One thing we love about our schools is that all of the teachers were "regular" teachers first so they have a wide range of experiences and teaching backgrounds. Of course the pedagogics are there and they do set a certain level of standards an d goals, but we have never experienced an over-riding feeling of academics or stress or any kind a discouragement of play. This may just be our school, but just last week when I had a parent meeting with my 6yo's teacher, she talked a lot about how much play and social contact the six-year-olds needed and how all the other work (writing, reading, math) would come as each child desired. Maybe we have had a very different Montessori experience (maybe due to Swedish Montessori? or because Montessori is free public education here--and still certified AMI with all Montessori-educated teachers) but I chose it because it was the closest to homeschooling I could find here. My boys choose what they want to do, play a lot both indoors and outdoors, have regular all-day outings in the woods (this week the 6yo will spend a whole school day cross-country skiing and playing in the woods) and have warm loving teachers who really know them. My 4yo bakes bread every week--doing everything himself and usually spending a good two hours on the project. They both draw and paint a lot. They have a lot of singing and music. Our schools require parent involvement and actively encourage visits as often as possible. The preschool does not have a required time for attendance but does encourage children to be there by 8.30 in order to get a good chunk of uninterrupted time for activities before lunch. I could go on and on with the things we like about our schools.
I know there are a lot of concerns people have and I have to say a lot of them were mine before we started at Montessori. I studied Montessori for my own education degree, even went to the London training center, and I never liked it. But you have to check out each school for itself. We did and we have a fantastic school.
Just have to add, too, that we had a day of workshops for the parents this weekend to learn about how they worked with different subjects and I was very impressed and inspired to see how practically they worked with foreign languages, which in our case is ESL from kindergarten (obviously my boys go to school in Swedish) and then a third and fourth language in middle school. No tests or grammar books, but lots of practical use (calling embassies to find out about Hinduism, for example, and having to use English).
Many schools can be good and many not so good--but don't dismiss all Montessori until you have really checked to see if it suits your family!
 

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I wanted to agree with Parker's Mommy about attending five days a week. My ds is three and we were looking at sending him there, but that is such a big transition to make. He is home full time now, going to five days seems extreme. It doesn't seem to attend to children's emotional needs. I know they really encourage independence, but I think that the means in doing so may be outdated. How much more have they found out re: attachment since Maria Montessori's time?

I do think there are some good things about montessori, but for us it has come down to this issue. Even a lot of Kindergartens don't start out five days a week, why should we force it at a young age?
 

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Quote:
I think the ideals are great but at the same time - eveything is SO SERIOUS. Whatever happened to PLAY? Where's the fun? I also find myself questioning what scientific evidence is behind it. Anyone else have this experience w/Montessori?
this was interesting to read. i know what you mean. my son has been going to a great montessori school for a year now. he goes 5 days a week (to answer the above poster, it is set up this way to honor the child's need for routine, i think), until noon each day. during that time they play outside when they get there, before they leave, and another time in between that. i love how they encourage indenpendence, and how they discipline--very gentle, yet firmly. they are extremely structured though, which i believe that the children benefit from, but at the same time, i sometimes question it myself. one thing that i must admit that i kind of have a problem with, although in ways i do understand it, is that my son is 3 and a half, and they won't move him up to the primary class because they say he is not ready. in my opinion, he is too old to be with the toddlers still, and for awhile he wasn't happy in his class because he was the oldest, and i wasn't sure what my next step would be. then he found 3 new best friends in his class and is totally happy, so i guess i can't complain. but it still kind of bugs me--and i swear not in a competitive way--it's hard to explain. and it doesn't address what you asked at all.


overall, i love our experience with the school.
if you have any questions, feel free to ask me.
 

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Montessori's educational ideas were developed in Italy for children who had very rich imaginative lives but who were not learning practical and pragmatic skills that would help them succeed in life. Her ideas do not stress free-play or imaginative play. This suits some children very well.

Waldorf on the other hand, was developed in Germany for children with little imaginative play and therefore stresses that over the practical especially in the preK and K.

Both Montessori and Waldorf were trying to develop well rounded people who would succeed in life. What do you feel your child needs?

Our kid was so in his head with facts that he needed the imaginative stuff away from all TV, movies, videos and media exprosure so we chose Waldorf. He still loves facts and learning but his imagination has blossomed. I think he would have loved Montessori but I don't think he would be so well rounded or so caring of his fellow human beings had he gone there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by Rhonwyn
Both Montessori and Waldorf were trying to develop well rounded people who would succeed in life. What do you feel your child needs?
This is my problem because I feel he needs BOTH. I guess this is where I get frustrated with any ideology because I personally feel that the ideal school would have a blend of Montessori and Waldorf philosophy. I guess I need to do more research because like several people said above - every school is different. I've heard complaints that the Montessori school in our town is too laid back. Maybe that would be a good thing for us since my complaint with the overall philosophy is that its too rigid.

Thanks so much for all your replies!
 

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that today's American children are more like the children Steiner worked with in Germany than the children Montessori worked with in Italy and that they are more in need of development of their imaginations than they are in need of development of their practical sides. One thing that made us chose Waldorf over Montessori was the fact that the more practical side or academic side is more stressed at home and in society no matter how much you try to shield them from it. I knew our children would have plenty of emphasis on the head at home so I wanted to make sure their heart and hands were covered also; hopefully, producing more well rounded individuals.
 

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Don't you wish there were a Montessori/Waldorf school that did a little of both? I am going to see how my son does in Montessori. So far he really likes it and it seems to be good for him. We may leave him in Montessori for preschool but go to Waldorf for K. I am definitely against our local public K pushing reading down their throats. The boys can't seem to sit still for all of the K stuff so the teacher gives them all 3 stars to start with in the am and takes the stars away for inattention, misbehaiving, not sitting still. then when they lose all of their stars she starts taking away recess and lunch break - I don't know why the parents put up with that...
 

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I just wanted to share some of the research I did prior to enrolling my ds in Montessori this month.

Here are two links to Headstart studies that found that Montessori schools have positive outcomes. The first study says that Headstart kids are randomly assigned to schools so therefore, the kids who did better due to Montessori did so because of Montessori, not as theorized above by Katiebug's Mama who said that perhaps it is because the parents were motivated enough to seek out Montessori.

http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/core...pa_spicer.html

The second link is a study that attempts to evaluate the bulk of the literature on early childhood education. They do recognize that boys who attend Montessori preschools have higher iq's but they question the design of the study that did this. This study is a meta-analysis so you will not see the original study results, just the opinions of Harvard researchers on the existing studies. They say that any preschool will increase a child's iq but the gains are not always sustained (esp. with lack of parental involvement) and there is a "danger period" around age 8-10 where kids can really drop adademically. They also point out the lack of studies to determine the social-emotional effects of preschool.
http://www.gse.harvard.edu/hfrp/pubs/onlinepubs/eer/

Interesting article by Time mag. here. Points out the value of staying home with your kids and not getting wrapped up in the competitive academic thing.
http://www.time.com/time/teach/archi...0/capsule.html

For me, I chose Montessori in part because of my son's wishes and the fact that they were much more open with me than Waldorf. Waldorf (Honolulu) will not let you observe the classroom interactions between the kids and teachers at all. They really try to sell you on the philosophy and physical environment. I am the type of person who needs to see for myself that the teachers are kind and attentive and treat the kids fairly and equally (not to mention following the Waldorf philosophy). Also, Montessori allowed me to gradually phase in my son so I was able to stay with him at the school 4-5 mornings until he was comfortable with me leaving and did not cry or become distressed. Waldorf said I just had to leave him and if he cried to let the teachers (who happen to be strangers to him) deal with it. Lastly, the price difference is about $250 per month (Waldorf is much more $$$).

You guys are all right in that we need to make decisions based upon our values and what is right for our child and family environment. I appreciate the feedback and insight I have gottent from you.
 
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