Thursday, August 16, 2012

What happens in a Montessori school?

Our daughter started a new preschool today - we continue with Montessori but changed schools so we could forego a long drive for an AMS and made the transition to an AMI school.

A parent meeting was held Monday night that my husband attended (room for only one parent at the meeting) and he indicated many of the parents there had no clue what Montessori was. So the 1 hour meeting on policies (such as no flashy shoes, no characters on shirts, bring extra clothes in a gallon bag with their name on it (I forgot, we didn't have any plastic gallon bags, so I did go today... just a bit behind on that!!) turned into almost two hours because apparently the questions on what curriculum and at what time X would be taught just kept coming (according to my husband). To be honest, half the kids in my daughter's new class are from India where "montessori" is flung around for so many playgroups/preschools and "sounds good" but the parents really (apparently) do not know what Montessori is, but the school is close and they hear good things. Since any one can use the word Montessori, it is important to know if the school is AMI or AMS recognized and what is happening in the classroom!

The good things are there, but if you're looking for an A+ or 12 hours of homework each weekend, it ain't happening at a Montessori school! Of course no environment is best for EVERY kid, but for us it seems to be working well and our daughter is making gains and is happy with her work.

On meet the teacher day, she worked
with a screwdriver and  put together
 a flashlight to make it work, batteries and all!
First, Montessori is an investment - it really needs 2, or preferably 3 years. Since they use a lot of scaffolding and mixed age groups, it allows kids to grow into it - I like to think of it as 3 years of kindergarten, which is our plan as is. Yes, most who graduate from two or three years there come out writing in paragraphs (in an AMI school, in cursive), knowing their continents and many countries, knowing more about the environment than most adults remember probably too!

But really it is about children CHOOSING their work. So to the parent who apparently asked "what will you do if my child is behind" .... your child will not be behind in what they choose to emphasize, but really... three years of the same thing won't likely be happening, so invest the time (and often money) and your child will likely be ahead of the game.

Not only do the children choose their work, they do it from a PREPARED environment. They have standard materials that is works well to use many senses at once.  EXTENSIONS are used at school to keep a child learning in the new work as well.

My worry about sending my children from Montessori to public school, potentially may be an issue... I want my kids to learn on their pace. If they're behind, they catch up because they can focus their work and not have to move on. If they're ahead of the game, they're not WAITING for other kids to "get it" and in the mean-time sit and find ways to get attention or get in trouble.

I'm not an expert in Montessori but it is our choice for education for our children.

For a better explanation this youtube video is a great explanation of why some parents choose Montessori.

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