Montessori - Part II

tamar_422September 14, 2007

I posted last spring looking for advice on Montessori kindergarten. My DS, who turned 5 in May, was not ready for kindergarten. His preschool teachers urged us to consider holding him back, as he was not interested in letters and numbers and would just get frustrated at school. Not wanting to set him up for failure, we decided to "red-shirt" one year, only to find there were no open spots in his preschool for the following year.

An educator in our school district advised sending him to private kindergarten, vs. another year of preschool somewhere new.

After researching Montessori, I was a little hesitant because the teaching philosophy and methods were so different from a traditional classroom. My biggest concern was that by not correcting the student, and allowing the student to "self correct," I thought these students would all end up a bunch of coddled kids who wouldn't be able to handle the real world. However, with limited options, and our fingers crossed, he started kindergarten three weeks ago.

Just three weeks, and it's been a world of difference. He actually looks forward to going to school now, and he comes home telling me about what he discovered, what he learned, what he can do now. He actually did the hundred board yesterday - this from a kid who would only count up to 6 just three months ago! By watching some of the older kids do the board, he was able to figure it out on his own. Now I actually "get" the Montessori philosophy - it's all about instilling a love of learning in your child at a young age, which can't happen if they are being told they are doing something wrong. By experimenting and trying things out, they get a sense of accomplishment and confidence in themselves they couldn't get from a traditional classroom. It's amazing.

I had been thinking of Montessori K as a stop-over on the way to "real" public school, but I am now definitely considering keeping him there for at least a few more years.

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For a many children, Montessori is a fabulous fit! It's a 'hand in glove' situation where there's effortless learning disguised as discovery play. For curious children who can find the patterns in life and draw inferences and conclusions -- it's heaven on earth.

My older son was such a child, and I only wish I had kept in in a Montessori program longer! (He started pre-kindergarten in a 'regular' school.) As it turns out, my older son, while very bright, is also dyslexic. And I really think that for him, a Montessori program would have detected his core reading weaknesses much earlier and fixed them at the proper 'core' level before he even started formal reading instruction. (He couldn't rhyme or tell how many syllables were in a word.) As it was, he speant two unhappy years in the 'slow reader' group before the school would even acknowledge a problem. Anyway -- I wish I'd kept him in Montessori through elementary school -- maybe even middle school. Can you imagine Montessori algebra or geometry?

But for some other kids, Montessori isn't a good fit at all. A Montessori approach relies on the child to 'discover' the patterns, but my younger child couldn't do that at all. He has to have things explicitly explained to him, and he needs concrete rules to follow. Unfortunately, for him, it was all 'play' and not much learning. Of course, he's not a typical learner either (autistic spectrum). Fortunately, his Montessori school recognized that and was very proactive with me about finding a diagnosis and a better placement for him.

And then there's the "all Montessori's aren't created equal" principal. We experienced two really good ones, and one that we weren't happy with. (Too rigid)

But if your child is thriving in a Montessori school you're happy with, with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, I'd be in NO HURRY to change things.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2007 at 10:37AM
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