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trishcuit's picture

trishcuit

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Pros and Cons of Montessori

 I am looking for people's experiences with having their children in the Montessori system at school.  The Elementary School my daughters are in offers the program but I am a research-aholic. The Montessori official websites will sing the praises of course but are there any drawbacks? I am most wondering about meeting criterea for ultimate High School graduation and what happens when the Montessori program ends and the child is back in the regular system?

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kenziedark's picture

kenziedark

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 Would love to hear feedback too.  I've heard good things about it from some of my friends, but haven't had to really look into it yet.  But next year, my oldest is preschool age and it's one of the options I'm considering.

BethanyK's picture

BethanyK

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My mom is a kindergarden teacher and did some research on this for a course she was taking. I remember she didn't really like their system but I don't remember what her reasons were. I'll ask her and get back to you.

Namaste's picture

Namaste

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I have worked in a regular preschool, but I did quite a lot of volunteering at my friend's Montessori school. It definitely has its pros and cons. I don't know very much about what it's like at the elementary level, but I do have a few concerns about it in the long run. I'll give it some more thought. I need to organize my thoughts and then I'll get back to you.

Starlight's picture

Starlight

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You need to check out the particular school well that you are thinking of.  It can be expensive.  The other thing to watch for is if this is truly a Montessori program or just has the name and the teachers just have the Montessori toys.

I have not taught in a Montessori school nor have I had my children in one.  I learned about it getting my Early Childhood Certificate.

I would talk to the parents who have children in Montessori.  I think it would work best if your child is bright and you think he/she might be bored in a regular classroom because the children should be able to go at their own pace.  It may also be good for special needs children if there are small class sizes.

There is no saying that if you try the program for a year or two that you must stay in it until graduation either.

trishcuit's picture

trishcuit

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 The program doesn't run until graduation, at least not in this town. Our daughter is quite bright and I don't know if the program will help her get very advanced in some areas and leave her wanting in others.  Because let's face it, sooner or later you are going to have to be accountable to your grades, especially in post secondary education. It is more the long term picture I am looking at, like when she has to return to the normal school system and gets real grades and marks.

sighsnootles's picture

sighsnootles

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i've heard good and bad.

 

i think the most important thing is to stay 'plugged in' to your kids learning throughout their education... those kids are the ones that do the best, no matter what system they are in.

cate's picture

cate

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We moved our son into a Montessori preschool from the age of 2-5. It was an amazing program, absolutely in tune with how children learn. My son went from despising daycare to looking forward to "school" every day. The teachers were extremely well educated, the curriculum was very diverse and didn't condescend or underestimate children's potential the way I believe most public daycare and elementary school systems do. Montessori schools are always private schools (as far as I know none of the public schools have moved to a montessori model) which means you will pay tuition. For us, it was definitely worth it to give him a jump start and to know that he was happy and stimulated during the day. However, each school is run differently so you'll need to check out the actual school you are interested in. Ask for references from other parents. Spend an afternoon observing the classroom if you are permitted to - even it it's just from outside the door.

 

My son was doing multiplication easily by the time he was 4,  during the year before he moved to a public kindergarten. That public kindergarten class is just starting to learn the numbers 1-10. So, the biggest drawback (if you can really call it that) in our experience was that moving to a regular public school means he is now bored. However, that is really a drawback of the public system rather than the montessori one. I wouldn't change my decision either way - we have another baby on the way and I fully intend for them to go to that same montessori school, and I also intend to move them to public school, because I believe we should be holding our public schools to a higher standard rather than turning to private schools. The only difference is I likely won't move them in kindergarten. I will likely move them in or around grade 3 when they are old enough to start asking for their own extra work if they are bored.

 

Some montessori schools do go all the way to grade 12. Most of the research I did indicated montessori educated children are considerably further ahead academically than those with a traditional education. For us, that was important, but not as important as seeing that our little guy was happy when we dropped him off, and happy when we picked him up.

 

I also suspect that many teachers in the public school system (not all mind you) dislike montessori because they are suspicious of the techniques and principles involved, which really challenge the mentality applied in traditional education. In my son's preschool, each class had 3 teachers all with their degreees in education and many with masters degrees.  Almost all of them had "defected" from the public system because they were frustrated with how inflexible and unproductive it can be for individual children. I too am frustrated with the public system but I recognize that it has challenges - huge ones - not faced by the private system. I believe if more frustrated parents remained in the public system and tried to fix it, rather than defecting to the private system, we would see a LOT more progress a LOT faster. As it stands now, virtually anyone with any real political clout sends their kids to private school, which I believe is a huge reason for why the public system continues to fall short.

athenry's picture

athenry

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Though focussed on the US, this article offers a quick explanation of the Montessori method.  I haven't heard much about the transition to the regular school system when the children are older, but I wouldn't be particularly worried about it - I would expect the children to have the necessary academic and behavioural skills to fit in well.  I believe most studies show that Montessori offers a "head start" in many areas, but that non-Montessori-educated kids "catch up" by the time they are high-school aged.  However, I can't remember where I read that, so I could be completely mis-informed.  Montessori is certainly something I would consider for my son when he reaches pre-school age.

JoeAnne10's picture

JoeAnne10

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Well I never agreed with this system and I will never be able to understand why they use this. I almost had to keep my child home and pay for private lessons because of that. When I wanted to donate some money for those poor kids they stopped me because they said I own a custom dog tags shop and it's not fair to receive money from me.

clergychickita's picture

clergychickita

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From a friend who teaches Montessori I have learned that there are two different types of Montessori schools -- one is traditional Montessori, and the other is called (I think) progressive Montessori.  The latter is the kind I would consider -- they have field trips and more integration/contact with the outside world.  Maria Montessori first developed her method for children with special needs, so it was originally intended to help "normalize" (her term) children with disabilities (who weren't participating in the public school system in Italy).  There are many positives of the program, especially when different ages learn together in the same classroom.  One drawback to me is that it is usually quite individually focused -- one child doing their "work" alone.  An extrovert's nightmare.  I'd suggest that if your child needs to be encouraged socially, that Montessori might not be the best choice.   shalom

seeler's picture

seeler

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Its been around for a long time.  When I was in Teachers' College in the early 1960s I learned about the Montessori system, when studying different ways that children learn.   The principle, as I understood and remember it, is that children want to learn, and that if they are permitted to choose what they learn, and when and how they learn it, they will be eager learners.  One case study was of a boy who refused to participate in regular classroom work.  He was punished for it and developed a negative attitude towards anything that looked like school work.  So, in the Montessori school, he was left alone to do his own thing.  While the other children read books, worked with blocks and shapes and numbers, painted pictures, wrote stories, or whatever the teachers were doing that day, or whatever caught their fancy, he walked around the building, looking out the window, playing with toys generally considered too young for him, and ignoring anything that might seem the least bit educational.  This went on for almost a year.  Then, because nobody was pressuring him, and because he was getting awfully bored, he began participating.  I think it was first in math.  And he discovered that he was quite good at it.  Then he ventured into science.  Then he realized that he needed some reading skills.  And he was well on his way to developing his own curriculum.

 

Clergychick - you mentioned that it was individualistic - with one child doing his work alone, an extrovert's nightmare.  I think it might be the opposite, with the extrovert feeling free to join whichever group he or she wanted, while the shy introverted child might be left on the outskirts.

 

It is difficult to compare a private school to the public system.  Merely because tuition is a requirement means that the parents have to be in a certain income bracket to even consider it - and these parents often have other means to enrich their children's educational experiences.  And a private school often has a lower student to teacher ratio, more individual attention.  It may also pay high salaries and attract the best teachers.  And it may reserve the right to refuse a child that might cause problems.

 

For some children it might be the best choice.  My son would probably have benefited from it.  I'm not sure that my grandson would.

 

lastpointe's picture

lastpointe

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It is a fairly popular private school option here in Toronto, many many schools. 

 

The downside from the kids I have seen join into my kids classes mid school is that they may be much slower at a subject that doesn't interest them.

 

Annecdotally:  my son had a friend who joined I think in grade 6 the regular private school stream ( still private but a more structured curriculum)

He was  above average in math, had done virtually no science because he didn't like it, had never writen an essay because he didn't like it, and read at a grade 1 or 2 level.  By grade 8 he read at a grade  5 level, continued to be a poor writer.  Ultimately he did high school but with alot of help in writing skills.

 

now those results could have occured in any school.   The difficulty for his parents was that they had never realised he was such a poor reaer and that the other kids had been learning to write stories and essays.

 

That isn't to imply that Montressori doesn't fill a real use, but that letting a child learn where and when they wish can result in large educational gaps.

trishcuit's picture

trishcuit

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 In this particular Montessori Classroom  I noticed on the blackboard that there was  a day mapped out.  Blocks of time allocated to math, reading, etc.  How the children implemented these time blocks probably involved a Montessori method.  Here is the school link discussing THEIR program:  

 

http://oklanding.sd22.bc.ca/OKLanding/Montessori.html

jesouhaite777's picture

jesouhaite777

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From what I've heard there really are no cons ..... only pros unless you want your kid to be a public school casuality.

It also of course depends on the kid right ..... a school can only work with so much ....

 

It is difficult to compare a private school to the public system.

Not really less shootings , less rudeness , less chances to uh pick stuff up ... you know like lice ... and of course your kid does not have to mingle with less desireable population.

Sad but true

seeler's picture

seeler

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So Jes, is it the Montessori system that works, or the private school with small classes, and hand picked students from upper middle class families.?

jlin's picture

jlin

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I think that it's the small classroom size.  Certainly, it is just as difficult to hide a learning disability in Montessori.  On the other hand, the child's strength are more likely to appear in Montessori so that by the time the disability is discovered the ability of the child is perceived. 

 

IteM:  ANNa Montessori meant for her classroom to be publically funded. 

seeler's picture

seeler

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jlin - you say that the founder of the Montessori system wanted her classes to be public funded.

Interesting concept.

It might give parents a choice of how they what they wanted their children's learning situation to look like. Wouldn't it be interesting if parents could choose between traditional classroom, Montessori system, and other methods.

trishcuit's picture

trishcuit

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 yes we are fortunate to have two elementary schools in town that offer public Montessori.

lastpointe's picture

lastpointe

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seeler wrote:

So Jes, is it the Montessori system that works, or the private school with small classes, and hand picked students from upper middle class families.?

 

 

Interesting Seeler, certainly around me I would say that the Montressor classes ae quite uniformly middle class kids.  the small private schools are the same.

 

 

The large private schools although are not.  The ones that are 100 years old have terrific bursary programs and therefore have a wide range of kids.  The school my son attended had 30% of it class receiving financial support from the school.  Plus of course international students.

 

Realistically, unless youlive in a small town , the school your kids go to will reflect it's neighbourhood.  If you are middle class and lilve in a middle class neighbourhood then all the kids will be middle class.

 

jesouhaite777's picture

jesouhaite777

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So Jes, is it the Montessori system that works, or the private school with small classes, and hand picked students from upper middle class families.?

 

A combination of all of the above I think the system attracts the type of parents that want something more for their kids in spite of the "cost"

 

the school your kids go to will reflect it's neighbourhood.

 

This is absolutely true on all counts

 

And although no one is crass enough to say it and it's not intentional but a kind of economic prejudice ... the more expensive it is the better the connections are at least that is where the parents are at whether they realize it or not ...

Then again this is a democracy and if you can afford to pay for it you have the right to have it.

 

 

 

seeler's picture

seeler

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My daughter considered carefully what school her children would go to when they bought their new house.  Their daughter would continue in the same school she was attending, and then more with her class to middle school and high school - all in good neighbourhoods.  Her son would start school in French Immersion in one of the best  school in the city.  But then the school board changed their policies on French Immersion and that affected the schools.  So my grandson started school this year in a school on the outskirts of the city that draws children from a wide area - a fair number from underprivileged backgrounds.

 

On the bright side, it is close to their subdivision, it is small, and we have heard that it has one of the best kindergarden teachers in the district. 

So far so good.  He has made friends with two or three nice boys and seems to be doing well.  And who knows, it might be less a struggle than they have had with their daughter - trying to keep up.

jesouhaite777's picture

jesouhaite777

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trying to keep up.

Not so much trying to keep up as being competitive ... the best thing people can do for their kids is prepare them for the world in the years to come.

trishcuit's picture

trishcuit

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 We had parent teacher interviews on Wednesday.  Daughter #2 is doing just fine BTW, which is good.  

I asked about the possibility of students only doing what they like at the exclusion of learning other vital skills.  (Reading over math etc).  The teacher reassured me that because it is PUBLIC Montessori, they have to abide by the government ciriculum  (How DO you spell that anyway). Which means the student HAS to do math, science etc.  That is a relief.

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