Opinions on montessori nurseries?! Thanks

(19 Posts)
Natalieb999 Sun 20-Jan-13 18:01:17

Hi,
My son is 2 years 3 months and as he is an October baby, he will not start nursery at the school we want him to attend until he is 3 years 11 months.
He is very free spirited, loves the outdoors and exploring, sports and running around all day long!
Am thinking Montessori may be better than a typical nursery setting whereby they have to do certain things at certain times of the day,
Any opinions? smile

lougle Sun 20-Jan-13 22:40:30

Montessori is quite structured, actually. My DD loves it.

LapinDeBois Sun 20-Jan-13 22:54:56

We had a bad experience with Montessori for DS2. In theory I loved the ethos and all the toys, but in practice they just didn't interact enough with the children for my liking. DS got quite upset on his first couple of days there (never been left before), and instead of sort of scooping him up and involving him in stuff to cheer him up, as I would have done, they left him to 'choose his own activities' and 'decide if he wanted to join in'. He'd only just turned 2. Needless to say, he just kept crying. I took him out after a few sessions. No idea whether that was just this particular nursery (it gets fantastic reviews, from Ofsted and other parents), but I just didn't like it at all. When I was there observing, I also noticed that the children didn't interact with each other that much - there was more focus on individual activities. Which is fine, but my purpose in sending the boys to nursery is primarily to interact with other kids (I can do the educational bit at home), so it just wasn't for me.

lougle Mon 21-Jan-13 06:50:11

That's interesting, it just Goya to show how individual each setting is. At DD3's Montessori the opposite was true. They hug the children, have them on their knee, etc., show them activities.

Iggly Mon 21-Jan-13 06:54:32

I wouldn't go too much by the Montessori label.

Ds has been to a Montessori and non Montessori setting and both were great. In some ways the non Montessori were more structured. His current Montessori place is more free flow - the child dscides his activity and the teachers encourage learning around what they're doing. Snacks are a free for all and they can go outside when they like (important for my ds).

Both settings have warm and friendly staff. Plenty of affection for the children.

Do have a look at places and decide from there.

camgirl Mon 21-Jan-13 06:58:07

It depends a bit on the interpretation of the individual practitioner but mostly, Montessori is very structured. I went to one myself and loved it. But when I looked for my son, I really couldn't see him thriving in that setting. Maybe go and have a look at the one you have in mind and quiz the staff about the day etc I found our local Children's Centre nursery - so the beginning of the EYFS - involved much more free play, art etc than the Montessori. It also had much better facilities than any private nursery in the area - meaning more time spend outdoors in the lovely grounds. Only downside was the 1:10 ratio (at age 3 - 1:3 at age 2 was fine.) Montessori would have a much better child/adult split.

Good luck!

Natalieb999 Mon 21-Jan-13 09:01:07

Thanks for your replies,
Will Deffo go and have a look smile

Iggly Mon 21-Jan-13 09:29:39

I'm interested in the lack of structure re montessori - I thought it was less structured? Certainly is for ds. What do people mean by that?

Moominsarehippos Mon 21-Jan-13 09:32:22

There is structure - so the child will do the same things as at another nursery (drawing, books, making things etc) but the teacher will direct them and encourage them to make a choice.

You need to go and take a look at the nursery. I have found that its more about the culture of the individual place rather than the Montessori approach that makes the difference.

Iggly Mon 21-Jan-13 09:42:50

Not at DS's Montessori. They won't guide him to make a choice. If he wants to draw, they let him. If he takes an interest in something, they encourage it and incorporate learning into that activity.

LapinDeBois Mon 21-Jan-13 13:51:09

Yes, at the one we (briefly!) looked at there wasn't any structure, except that they generally went outside at the same time (for supervision reasons, I think). Otherwise, the children chose what activity to do, when to eat their snack and when to eat their lunch. Maybe it wasnt't a brilliant nursery, but I found there was quite a lot of aimless wandering around. When I spent a morning there (because DS2 wasn't settling), I did a story with him in the book corner, and I was immediately mobbed with children - I got the distinct impression that they really craved a bit of attention/structured time. But I'm really not saying all Montessoris are rubbish - I've only seen one. Also, different things are good for different children. What I would say, though, is that you should try to not just look round, but maybe spend a whole trial session there. From my first visit, I absolutely loved the place we went to; but as soon as I'd spent a couple of hours there, I knew it definitely wasn't for me.

lougle Mon 21-Jan-13 14:34:31

That is fascinating. We call these places 'Montessori' but it just shows that they are as varied as any other preschool.

At DD3's Montessori the structure is:

-Children arrive and pick their name from the board
-They choose a peg and stick their name above it
-They get their name from a table and post it through the letter box
-They put their lunch bag in the kitchen.

There are trays with activities laid out, on a wooden bench. They can choose to take one of these. If it is a new (to them) activity, the teacher will show them how it is used.

There are lots of construction, literacy, sciencey materials out at all times. If they want to do something on the floor, they get a mat from the unit to lay out. This defines their space and shows other children that they are working on something.

The outside space is available all the time. Ratios are high enough for individualisation.

They have circle time, where they learn about something topical, celebrate a birthday, or sing songs, etc.

They have yoga on a Monday and Wednesday, French, etc.

Moominsarehippos Mon 21-Jan-13 14:37:03

Always best to ask. I heard that it was all hippy dippy 'let Tarquin choose his own activities' bud didn't find it like that at all. The kids were still monitored and follow the Early Years learning (so tick boxes checked and notes written up on each child).

Natalieb999 Mon 21-Jan-13 16:35:29

I have also been told its very " hippy " and only for parents who don't want any structure for their child.
I just want my kids to have fun whilst there children, not have to follow a certain routine just because 20 other kids do!

Moominsarehippos Mon 21-Jan-13 16:43:43

I think it really depends on the school. I work for a nursery and there isn't a lot of structure there that I can see! Arrival, registration, singing, puzzles, snack, garden, lunchtime, nap, games and roaring about, story time, garden, snack and home. There isn't a whole lot you can do with a roomful of under fives!

Iggly Mon 21-Jan-13 17:02:41

Not hippy IMO - the EYF is influenced by Montessori methods!

lougle Mon 21-Jan-13 20:36:52

Not hippy at all!

I think the beauty of the Montessori method is that all the teaching is through experience and it's all implicit to the activity.

Everything, for example, goes from left to right, which encourages the skills needed for reading and writing later.

The materials are all sensorial, so children can experience the real meaning of size, quantity, volume, etc. They have lovely blocks with cylinders in them, which graduate in different ways. The children can experience the blocks getting heavier as they get bigger, because they do.

They have real work benches with real hammers, drills, etc.

DD3's Montessori have African Land Snails and Tortoises, and when the hens lay eggs, a local farm allow them to borrow a chicken or two so that the children know exactly where it came from.

It's fabulous grin

Natalieb999 Tue 22-Jan-13 11:36:37

That sounds beautiful!
My son loves the outdoors and I'm really hoping to find a Montessori where he is allowed to explore at his own pace smile

Moominsarehippos Tue 22-Jan-13 17:50:48

Where abouts are you? I think the main montessori website will have a list of registered schools.

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