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 Post subject: Montessori questions
PostPosted: Thu Nov 18, 2010 2:48 pm 
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I'm interested in hearing from anyone with Montessori experience because we're starting to look at preschools and the frontrunner is a Montessori school in our neighborhood. It's four blocks from home, has super flexible hours and schedules, it's clean and pretty, the kids all look happy...but I'm just not sure.

My biggest question is, what does Montessori do for a person? The director could explain what it is, but she didn't really address the why. My fear is that it's to produce good little workers who clean their rooms and don't cause a fuss; my hope is that it's a way to help kids organize their minds.

My other concern is that they use time-outs for conflicts between kids. We don't do that at home and I think it's a little outmoded - is there a reason behind this or is it just because it's been standard practice for so long?

I really appreciate your thoughts!


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 Post subject: Re: Montessori questions
PostPosted: Thu Nov 18, 2010 4:57 pm 
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Maybe I could help. I went to Montessori school from Pre-school to 1st grade and my last year was 7 years ago so I couldn't tell you if it's changes since but....


My mom and I both loved Montessori. I went to a big one from ages 2-4 and a small one from 4-7. I had great teachers (who I still sometimes go see) and classmates who I am still friends with. We had multi-age groups and the students helped each other out. For instance, the readers would read to those learning how to read. I loved how we learned about all the Winter holidays instead of pretending there was none or just focusing on the Christian ones. I was a bright kid and knew how to read when I was 3 or 4 and they were great about advancing me. I knew division, all 50 state capitals, and cursive before I left. Most importantly, though, I left happier and more outgoing than when I came. I also knew that there was world out there when I was in a 99% white, Catholic, conservative school for grades 2-6, Now I go to a school with a similar philosophy and I'm in 8th grade.

Oh, and my mom never did time-outs with us either and I don't recall ever having to be placed in one but, then again, I was the 60% anti-social kid who was always reading. I would talk further with them on that.


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 Post subject: Re: Montessori questions
PostPosted: Thu Nov 18, 2010 5:03 pm 
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I was in montessori (for only a couple years as a kid though because my parents couldn't really afford it) and I loved it. It's about as far from a school meant to create obedient office drones as you can get in my mind. The free form learning and the ability to go at your own pace was exciting and stimulating and I would try to put my kid in such a school if I had a kid.

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 Post subject: Re: Montessori questions
PostPosted: Thu Nov 18, 2010 5:42 pm 
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Thanks so much, I'm so happy to hear from people who remember being a kid...that's the opinion that really matters in the end.


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 Post subject: Re: Montessori questions
PostPosted: Fri Nov 19, 2010 12:03 pm 
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Not to be the downer, but be sure to socialize your kid in other ways if you decide to keep them in the Montessori after age eight or so. My two ex-step brothers were in the Montessori their whole lives and they were socially behind and extremely difficult to get along with, work with, live with (and it had nothing to do with the meshing of families). They honestly weren't even intellectually or creatively farther ahead than my brother and me, products of public school from kindergarten to graduation.
It's different for every kid, but it's always nice to have all the info possible.

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 Post subject: Re: Montessori questions
PostPosted: Fri Nov 19, 2010 12:32 pm 
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Disclaimer: I don't have kids and didn't go to a Montessori school. But I've read that studies have shown that children around the age of 5 are not yet physically or mentally ready to sit and be taught for long periods of time, and it can actually decrease their ability to develop a good attention span if you try to force it too early. Montessori schools tend to offer more play time, teaching more often through constructive play, rather than have designated play times and then designated sit-and-learn times.

Sorry that I don't remember the article I read about the study, but I think it was from the NY Times.

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 Post subject: Re: Montessori questions
PostPosted: Fri Nov 19, 2010 12:37 pm 
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I went to a montessori school for three years, then started first grade at a public school. When I went it was only a tiny three room pre-k school, but now it goes through fifth grade. I can't tell how you how it would compare to a public school (my parents sent us there mostly because they worked and it was full-day as opposed to the public half-day), but I absolutely loved it. I remember crying on my last day.

I'm old now, so I don't remember too much- learning fractions with paper apples, taking care of animals, lots of reading, and making some kind of devices to look at a solar eclipse- but what I do remember was great. Also I got the Best Bunny Babysitter award at graduation, which is surely my greatest accomplishment to date.

Oh and my mind is still not at all organized, but that's most likely not the fault of the school.


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 Post subject: Re: Montessori questions
PostPosted: Fri Nov 19, 2010 12:42 pm 
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I'm just going to add that I learned very quickly at montessori and at a young age. We were learning spanish as 6 year olds, which I know isn't that uncommon, but I was so bored and upset when I switched to public school and was ahead of everyone. I ended up skipping a grade.

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 Post subject: Re: Montessori questions
PostPosted: Fri Nov 19, 2010 12:44 pm 
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missdelaney wrote:
Not to be the downer, but be sure to socialize your kid in other ways if you decide to keep them in the Montessori after age eight or so. My two ex-step brothers were in the Montessori their whole lives and they were socially behind and extremely difficult to get along with, work with, live with (and it had nothing to do with the meshing of families). They honestly weren't even intellectually or creatively farther ahead than my brother and me, products of public school from kindergarten to graduation.
It's different for every kid, but it's always nice to have all the info possible.


I think you can find those cases in pretty much every group (homeschoolers, public schoolers, waldorf, montessori). The only real take away is that there is no perfect education path.

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 Post subject: Re: Montessori questions
PostPosted: Fri Nov 19, 2010 12:45 pm 
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vegimator wrote:
I'm just going to add that I learned very quickly at montessori and at a young age. We were learning spanish as 6 year olds, which I know isn't that uncommon, but I was so bored and upset when I switched to public school and was ahead of everyone. I ended up skipping a grade.



I had a similar experience in first grade, and had to change classes because I was bored. I think I was still ahead in the new class, but didn't skip a grade.


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 Post subject: Re: Montessori questions
PostPosted: Fri Nov 19, 2010 1:20 pm 
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I went to montessori school from 2.5-7 and my brother went through elementary school. I also directed a montessori primary classroom for three years, feel free to find me on g-chat (kittee68 at gmail dot com), because it's too much to type here, but I'd be glad to talk to you if you want.

xo
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 Post subject: Re: Montessori questions
PostPosted: Fri Nov 19, 2010 3:31 pm 
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vegimator wrote:
I'm just going to add that I learned very quickly at montessori and at a young age. We were learning spanish as 6 year olds, which I know isn't that uncommon, but I was so bored and upset when I switched to public school and was ahead of everyone. I ended up skipping a grade.


A friend of mine had this problem with her kids when she switched them from Montessori to public school. They hated switching and were so far ahead of their class that they were deemed troublemakers because they were bored all the time.

In response to your original question, Axel, the kids loved it and felt challenged and really enjoyed learning. They pick things up very quickly to this day.


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 Post subject: Re: Montessori questions
PostPosted: Fri Nov 19, 2010 3:49 pm 
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My youngest went to Montessori school for preschool and kindergarten. It was an excellent experience for her. The mixed age groupings were a lifesaver because as the youngest of three she never got to be the leader or the one to teach anyone anything at home and she was thinking it was time to boss mom and dad around before she went. She also was exposed to such a variety of educational and life experiences which she still enjoys: cooking, art work reading gardening etc. Her transition to public school was great because our district's "gifted and talented" (ugh) program uses learning clusters where the kids are mainstreamed and self direct their own "extra" learning through packets and activities that are chosen by the students. So she has been able to maintain that self directed learning model. I found it an excellent learning experience for her.

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 Post subject: Re: Montessori questions
PostPosted: Fri Nov 19, 2010 4:58 pm 
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if you start your child in montessori, there is no need for you to keep them in it forever. if the preschool feels right and fits every criteria that you have for a preschool, then it might be a good fit for right now, and if after spending some time in the montessori system, you wanted to switch your child to another type of school or you wanted to unschool or homeschool, that would be fine and your child would adapt.


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 Post subject: Re: Montessori questions
PostPosted: Fri Nov 19, 2010 5:04 pm 
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Axel Foley wrote:
My other concern is that they use time-outs for conflicts between kids. We don't do that at home and I think it's a little outmoded - is there a reason behind this or is it just because it's been standard practice for so long?


maybe you could get an example of when and how they use time outs? time outs are intended to give the child a break from the situation that is resulting in their misbehaving, literally to pluck them out of a stressful situation and let them breathe.

i know a lot of parents and schools use them in more of a punitive fashion, i.e. "if you do [x] behavior, you will have a time out." if that is a concern for you, they should be able to give you examples of how it's used.


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 Post subject: Re: Montessori questions
PostPosted: Fri Nov 19, 2010 7:31 pm 
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A friend of mine is certified as a Montessori teacher (I think it was a two-year degree after college), and I remember her saying that that word "Montessori" can be used by pretty much anyone, but that schools should be affiliated with certain Montessori associations if you want a guarantee that they're actually doing Montessori education. I can ask her for more information.


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 Post subject: Re: Montessori questions
PostPosted: Fri Nov 19, 2010 8:35 pm 
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Larisa wrote:
A friend of mine is certified as a Montessori teacher (I think it was a two-year degree after college), and I remember her saying that that word "Montessori" can be used by pretty much anyone, but that schools should be affiliated with certain Montessori associations if you want a guarantee that they're actually doing Montessori education. I can ask her for more information.


yes this is true. i would also suggest asking about coming in to observe in the classrooms at the school (without your child). you can get a lot of info this way. time outs are not a montessori approach, so i'd also try to more info about those and ask them why and how they incorporate them into the culture of the school.

xo
kittee

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 Post subject: Re: Montessori questions
PostPosted: Sat Nov 20, 2010 6:39 pm 
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kittee wrote:
i would also suggest asking about coming in to observe in the classrooms at the school (without your child). you can get a lot of info this way. time outs are not a montessori approach, so i'd also try to more info about those and ask them why and how they incorporate them into the culture of the school.


yes x a million. as someone who has worked in preschools and daycares, i would recommend this for anyone checking out any preschool. pretty much any halfway decent school can do an impressive song and dance for 10 minutes, but you can get a much better feel for a place by just hanging out for a while.


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 Post subject: Re: Montessori questions
PostPosted: Sun Nov 21, 2010 8:55 am 
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I enjoy reading this blog, written by former Montessori instructor: http://montessorimatters.wordpress.com/ (she just recently left her job this past year and got married and is back at school herself) She still writes about Montessori matters and I find her very inspirational. She'll be the first to admit that not all Montessori schools are followers of Montessori ideals.

As for my household, I've very interested in getting my daughter into a Montessori classroom. To me, it allows the young child to internalize that learning is fun---that your interests can lead you to learn about the entire world. And for older children, it encourages true engaged learning vs. simply taking tests well. At least, that's the idea.

My husband's grandmother (former principal of an public elementary school) disapproves of Montessori schools. She said that children who transferred over didn't know how to sit still and listen to a lecture and that they were "cheeky." I personally think the fact that a kindergartner would be required to listen to lectures is ridiculous. I hope my child always feels free to ask questions of their teachers (something I was encouraged to do as a child) w/out being labeled as a troublemaker.


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