Is Montessori right for all children? And if not, how do you know whether's it's right for your child?(18 Posts)
Trying to choose a nursery for DS for next year, as there are waiting lists. One of the options is Montessori, which I quite like the sound of. Do all children thrive in that environment? Do they find it difficult to then move onto a 'normal' mainstream school?
A good Montessori will fit any child as well as any preschool can fit any child.
A bad Montessori will suit few children!!
Good Montessori is very good for fine motor skills, life skills & pattern matching.
I think you could ask around to see what local parents find & think of our particular local montessori.
DC had no trouble settling in to ordinary school after Montessori preschool.
Can't speak for all children but I know my two DDs thrived in Montessori (two different ones because we moved). We found it helpful with the basics (eg phonics) and with social skills. The transition to our local (highly rated) state school in Richmond went very smoothly - I think the Montessori experience helped them (but as I didn't put them through a different nursery experience, I don't have anything substantive to compare it to).
Totally agree with lljkk
The whole core principle of Montessori is that it follows the needs and development of the individual child, and tailors the environment to support the child. So if it's a genuine, proper, good Montessori, it SHOULD suit all children.
However, a genuine, proper, good Montessori is hard to find! Dr Montessori never trademarked her methods or materials, so a nursery can literally put one piece of Montessori equipment in a corner and call themselves a Montessori, even if they don't adopt the principles. In these cases, they're just normal nurseries, so you'd need to decide whether it's suitable for your DC based on the standard criteria you would normally.
If it's a proper Montessori, your child should have no problem moving to mainstream - by the time they leave, they should be independent, able to dress themselves, pour themselves a drink, and should have a good sense of order instilled in them.
DD only did one day a week, but she absolutely loved hers.
Insisted on going to their holiday scheme until she was 8 and it wasn't sporty enough.
I think mont. just meant they did a bit of structured numbers and letters in the preschool bit.
She's naturally academic so it's impossible to tell where she learnt what.
You hear some stories about Montessoris that are overly strict in their interpretation. That puts me off more than anything. I think a Montessori that makes some concessions for Ofsted, cultural norms, is better.
I can compare to at least 6 other nurseries that DC attended... including one concurrently (disorganised but happy playgroup). The Montessori was nicely focused but I like a bit of freeplay mayhem, too.
Consider the venue, too. A purpose-built venue is usually ideal, makes a big difference to the full experience.
My DS's montessori has a parent and toddler class (which we currently attend with the intention of him going to the pre-school in Sept). If there was one of these anywhere you could get to it is a great way to see how a DC responds.
Thanks everybody. The nursery has a very good reputation locally. Unfortunately there's no parent and toddler group there, that sounds like a great taster.
Someone mentioning learning phonics there concerns me a bit. DS will go to a British international school and the Montessori school is a local one. I thought there wouldn't be any learning about phonics type stuff at nursery-level (I know nothing . I assume it would be confusing to start learning that stuff in one language then switch to another. Maybe it would be better to go with an English-speaking nursery. But Montessori does sound great.
My dc went to a brilliant Montessori school. They were able to pour themselves a drink, dress themselves and had great fine motor skills by the time they left. The ethos was for the kids to decide which activity they wanted to do, all the activities were educational, none of them were conventional plasticky toys. Both kids thrived, neither of them really learnt any phonics (apart from the letter of the week - bringing in items beginning with that letter) but they were able to talk about specific subjects - the solar system, the skeleton etc. it stood them in great stead for school, where they both took off and overtook the kids who had learnt phonics but no life skills in their preschools.
You could find out if your local Montessori does formal phonics or not. If it's a good Montessori I'd highly recommend you go for it!
I didn't send my dd to a Montessori nursery, because I was pretty sure she would not enjoy it. (Someone please do correct me if I've leapt to the wrong conclusions about the Montessori philosophy.) Here are two reasons why:
She was never keen to do a specific activity in a prescribed way. For example, she would have taken the "stacking cups" over to the "pouring station" to use them as boats, and then fetched some "threading beads" to put into these boats as pretend people. Montessori doesn't allow that sort of free play and exploration, does it? The Montessori-trained people I know talk about "respect for the materials" which I guess means that children are supposed to use certain things for a particular purpose. This is not something that makes sense to me; I respect people but to me things are just things.
She was very sociable and wanted to spend ALL of her time working or playing with other children and chatting with them. I have the impression that children in a Montessori nursery are meant to do at least some of their activities individually, right?
The particular nursery I looked at wouldn't have tolerated my dd's mix-and-match approach or her social nature, so in practice it didn't matter to me whether this was a feature of all Montessoris or just this one. But I am curious whether these aspects of her personality would have caused trouble for her in other Montessori nurseries.
"For example, she would have taken the "stacking cups" over to the "pouring station" to use them as boats, and then fetched some "threading beads" to put into these boats as pretend people. Montessori doesn't allow that sort of free play and exploration, does it?"
TRUE but does any nursery really encourage (or rather tolerate) the scenario you describe?
"I have the impression that children in a Montessori nursery are meant to do at least some of their activities individually, right?"
TRUE but they can play with other kids, they just have to respect other children when they are doing their stuff. Friendships and play time is plenty.
I love ours but they are all different and a lot depends on the management too.
My DS is just starting out at a very purist Montessori. I see it as a part of his education. Yes, at nursery he has to behave in quite a specific way, learn routines and control himself in order to conform to the 'community' rules.
At home he can do thing his own way more and be more of a free spirit.
I think he does understand the different contexts and that the balance of having both is really good for him.
""For example, she would have taken the "stacking cups" over to the "pouring station" to use them as boats, and then fetched some "threading beads" to put into these boats as pretend people. Montessori doesn't allow that sort of free play and exploration, does it?"
TRUE but does any nursery really encourage (or rather tolerate) the scenario you describe? "
On the contrary, I am shocked thay any pre-school / nursery / Reception class would not be delighted by such imaginative and constructive play... every one I have ever been involved with [never done Montessori, not available locally] has allowed free access to all the materials any child might need to construct such a scenario and would positively encourage exploration and combination. And then had a structured, 'community rules' process via which the child would have helped to tidy it up again [or special child-accessible cones to 'fence oiff' important works-in-progress].
One of my cousins put her first-born (DS) in her local Montessori nursery where he thrived. She then put her second-born (DD) there, thinking nothing of it, and her DD was bored to tears. Her children are now both at prep schools, very different ones, and thriving. They are very different children and clearly the Montessori nursery brought out the best in one but not the other.
Our Montessori allowed creative free play, not prescriptive or dogmatic.
Saracen - that wasn't a good Montessori, IMO. Not allowing children to use stacking cups as boats falls under the heading of over-strict. Stacking cups are used in a certain way when they're being used as a teaching aid. Outside that, a good Montessori school should be absolutely fine with them being used as boats, as long as they're put back etc. I can see why they might be a bit more protective about the beads, because it's easier for them to get lost and they need to have the right number for them to work as a counting aid. DD's Montessori definitely allows them to use various pieces as pretend people, though. They spend the afternoon in free play (and their time outside in the morning).
Re. sociability - I think the teachers would definitely take this into account when helping children choose activities. There are activities that can be done together and ones more suited to one child at a time. The main thing is, as Munashe says, that there's a big emphasis on respecting what other children are doing (this is why they have mats where they can leave half-finished activities with - in DD's preschool - a little picture of themselves to say "please leave this as is, I'm coming back to it."
Re. languages - DD goes to a Montessori school in the local language (we don't live in the UK) and does letter-related activities there (in fact she's more or less reading in the community language, which they support). At home I'm teaching her to read in English, using phonics, and it's not confusing for her.
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