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Montessori

The kiddo is a smart one. She's in three-year-old pre-school right now which, while not terribly strenuous academically, is great for developing her relationship and social skills.

However, the school does some things we're not too keen on. First, they watch a lot more TV than Carey or I are comfortable with. The afternoon shift lady seems very passive and we've been reprimanded for daring to send a Swiss cake roll (a Ho Ho) as a dessert for lunch.

In looking around the various pre-schools, one at the elementary school she would attend has stuck out. It comes highly regarded and has good teachers, and going to school there would ease the transition she would undergo when she moved into kindergarten.

We also have the option of putting her in a Montessori program at the same school (Glenwood Elementary). The Montessori approach is basically that of self-directed learning, and as a kid who already is learning to spell and read words at 3.2 years of age, she seems a perfect fit. The only bad thing I've heard about Montessori programs are that sometimes the kids have trouble adjusting to the "sit in your seat, follow along, blah blah blah" routine that they'll encounter in third grade when the Montessori program ends. The program is flexible in that she can attend it in the morning and then go back to "regular" pre-school in the afternoon (or vice versa), or move back and forth at her own pace. One of the kids who is in the program now (second grade) is doing long division.

I'm all for being the smartest you can be, but I admit that my earliest thoughts were that I didn't want her to suffer as I did, bored in most of my grade- and high-school classes. But after giving it more thought, I've decided I'd rather she be ahead of the curve rather than sitting on it, because even if she's as bored in school as I was (or more so), Carey and I will be able to offer her challenges and stimulation at home.

My mother-in-law is against putting her in the program because of reasons Carey and I can't quite understand. We do know that the MIL is praying for us because "that program teaches kids that it's okay to be whoever they are and to get along with everyone." She says that in a bad way, though it hardly sounds bad to Carey or I. It's also too "new age" for her tastes, but having witnessed the modern education system first-hand, I'm willing to give anything else a shot.

I'm wondering now if any parents out there have put their kids through a Montessori program and what they thought of it. Or perhaps you went through a Montessori program yourself - what did you think?

13 Responses to "Montessori"

  1. I went to a Montessori school for preschool and kindergarden, before being plopped into a public school for first grade. I don't remember it as well as I might if I'd stayed in the program another year or two, but I definitely had a good experience there.

    They seem to have had a way to trick us into learning by disguising it as fun. We were doing multiplication tables by kindergarden, and at one point I used to know who all of the U.S. Presidents were. (Granted, there weren't quite as many to remember back then.) Suffice it to say that (unlike swimming lessons, sixth grade, or Data Structures) I was never reluctant to go to Montessori in the morning or relieved to finally go home in the afternoon.

    Look at it this way: if she's a bright kid, she'll probably be bored with most of her grade- and high-school classes regardless of whether or not you put her in a Montessori program.

  2. I went to a Montessori school for pre-school and kindergarten, as did my brother and sister. The school was definitely all about the self-directed learning, and I think that really suited my style of learning. Learning how to direct your own education and to stimulate your own mind is one of the greatest skills learned in the Montessori program. You certainly would never see them using a TV to shut kids' minds down for a while. Overall, it was a great program and my siblings and I definitely benefited from it.

    As for being bored in school...I was definitely far above the curve coming out of the program and entering public school, both in terms of knowledge and my ability to stimulate my mind. I was extremely bored in class coming out of the program. However, as you suggested, all a kid who is bored at school needs is to be mentally stimulated at home. I found plenty of ways to keep my mind busy, and I imagine that your kid will too.

    As for your mother-in-law's suggestion that the school is "new-age", that's something that I never really sensed. Sure, they have some alternative theories of learning, but most good schools do these days. And, I hardly think promoting the idea that kids should learn how to get along with others is a negative. They don't have to like everybody, but they're going to have to learn how to work/interact with people that they don't like someday. Better to start earlier than later.

  3. I went to a Montessori kindergarten and preschool; definitely one of the better decisions my parents have made. I have, in the later years of school, had some issues academically, but that appears to be due to ADD rather than any deficiency in my early teaching (I tend to end up with 99th percentile test scores, and 40th percentile grade). I've been an avid reader for as long as I can remember, I'm a pretty darn decent programmer, and an acceptably good artist. I'd blame at least some of that success and variety on Montessori 🙂

  4. My son went to a Montessori school for a year of pre-school and switched to the more traditional public school for elementary. He didn't seem to have that much difficulty adjusting between the two of them, but then the elementary school that he goes to is pretty good and does a good job of letting smart kids move at their own pace while maintaining some semblance of order.

    Either way, do make sure you set aside time to volunteer in your child's classroom. There's no better way to keep up on what's going on in the school and where your child might be getting either behind or ahead of the class. (Both are situations that can be mitigated at home.) Also, it encourages open communication with the teacher, which couldn't help but be a good thing.

  5. I went to a Montessori school too. I loved it. I recommend it to all who listen whenever it comes up in conversation. My experience was just as you described. I still remember quite a bit of the program as strange as that is.

    I remember doing long division, and knowing 4th and 5th grade level math before I stepped foot in an Elementary school. At that time my mother was the Chairman of the Lee County (FL) school board so when I got into public school I was able to leave my class and go and do math with kids in grades much higher than mine. That was a lot of fun for me too. I got to be friends with more people by doing that.

    Montessori didn't seem to help as dramatically in the language skills for me. Through self-directed learning I went crazy on math, but was never interested in spelling, grammar, and other things. That eventually worked itself out and I studied linguistics in college, but I still feel that it is worth mentioning. I remember Elementary school being very easy in all ways except english... until I learned to spell by memorizing the number of letters in each word. It makes no sense, but it worked well.

  6. When you send her to Montessori it will be great for her, but it will also be good for you two as parents. You have to realize that you will be getting to know other like-minded parents who are willing to make financial sacrifices to better their children. These people will all have little things to contribute to your parenting that will help you be a better and better parent. This will also better connect you to the community as a whole (Though I guess Carey already gets a good share of that by being a teacher,) but more importantly to the smaller community of parents who are doing what they can to give the best to their children.

  7. I went to Montessori for preschool. The later years may be self directed and unique in teaching style but preschool was severe and hellish. I dropped out and resumed schooling once kindergarten rolled around (and a public school) and am probably better for it.

    Needless to say, I'm not a fan 😉

  8. My daughter is in the middle of her second year at a Montessori school. I how she has learned independent thinking, excellent social skills, and the ability to learn at her own pace. She is taking to math, reading, and writing with a vengence. And just recently brought home her first book to read from school (she is only 4 years old).

    More than anything, I believe the learning of key social skills and knowing that she has the independence to make choices, but choices also carry consequences is something that will serve her well as she continues to mature. I highly recommend the curriculum and plan to keep her in the Montessori system until she is in middle school.

    I also like that fact that by its very nature, the Montessori school ensures that you will be interacting with other parents with a keen focus on the educational development of their children. Parental involvement in the education of children is also key.

  9. CERDS(Centre for Educational Research and Developmental Studies) offers Montessori Teacher Training using Montessori tools,methods and principles.

  10. I am also planning on puting my 3 years old on a Montessori School. However, I have read a lot about how retricted they are and that a child is not allowed to change things to fit their creativity, for example, if coloring a tree, they have to color it green and not pink or purple. How do you see this? Thanks, Vi

  11. Viviane,

    It probably depends on the school. I read some online parent concerns on the lack of creativity when we were making our schooling decision. However, our kiddo comes home on an almost daily basis with some very creative pieces. A few weeks ago, she made a leprechaun that contained almost no green. She paints princesses with purple faces and yellow feet! I'd discuss these concerns with the school(s) that you are considering. Best wishes!

  12. Hello,
    Just came across this blog looking for some information on the Montessori educational approach. My wife is insistent upon taking our 5 year old daughter to a Montessori school on the south east side of town. While I am being a good husband (doing research about Montessori and trying to be supportive) I still have my doubts. As a college graduate and son of two teachers, I believe that the skills I was taught in kindergarten in a traditional approach carried me much further throughout my academic career than if I would have been able to be "self taught", etc. Granted, I did go to a Christian school for 3 years of my childhood. Also, with my daughters personality, I know she would have trouble adjusting to a normal class setting after participating in a school where discipline and consequences may not be strictly adhered to. Hey, hooked on phonix worked for me! Is too much choice at that early age a bad thing?? I think it would prove detrimental to kids at this stage in their academic career. I know from experience that kids usually crave structure in some form or fashion. It provides stability to them when they come to class and know what's expected of them, rather than wonder from station to station...or "jobs" as Montessori calls it. Anyone?
    -J

  13. I have 2 boys ages 3 and 7 in Montessori and I can not recommend it highly enough. I knew nothing about it before enrolling my oldest at 3. At first I thought it was a bit idyllic but the more I learned it became perfectly clear that the system is designed in the most ingenious way. I will say, that there are many different Montessori schools and you should make sure you find a good one. The best thing anyone could do is to sit in on a class. It is an amazing experience to see children working together and engaged in learning, the way you would think it should be in school. My 7 year old is learning about the Universe, dark matter, evolution, division etc. Montessori goes all the way up though high school if you are able to find one near you. If you are curious, you owe it to your children to look into it.


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