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So what about Montessori? - attracted yet ambivalent... Anyone sum it up in a nutshell?

(37 Posts)
alittleteapot Fri 29-May-09 23:04:34

In general I feel a bit ambivalent about niche educational movements - I'm a local school person at heart - but I do find the Montessori philosophy - or what very little I know about it - appealing and I am visiting a couple of Montessori nurseries for dd.

What do you think about it? How does it work doing nursery then into mainstream? What exactly is so different about it anyway?

FiveGoMadInDorset Fri 29-May-09 23:26:55

The Montessori approach is giving the child an holistic education focusing on social skills, sensorial, reading/writing, maths, and culture, not pushing the child and allowing them to dictate the pace with which they learn things and generally they can be more advanced when they start mainstream education.

Like all nurseries there are good an bad, I have worked in both.

Smithagain Sat 30-May-09 20:24:26

I like the philosophy and DD2 is at a Montessori nursery, whereas DD1 went to a more conventional set-up.

The main difference I'm noticing is that the Montessori one is much calmer, lots of small-scale work at tables, not much time for romping around outside or playing with conventional toys. A little bit "precious" about the whole philosophical thing at times.

But it's a very creative, child-centred environment and DD2 has enjoyed it. She's moving to school in Sept and I don't foresee any problems. They've been very good at teaching social skills, turn-taking, learning to concentrate on a task etc.

BUT I also know a couple of people with very lively boys, who have really struggled with this particular nursery due to the lack of much outlet for their energy.

To be honest, I wouldn't get too hung up about the philosophy. Visit the most convenient local nurseries, with your child in tow, and see where she seems like she'll settle in best.

alittleteapot Mon 01-Jun-09 20:24:29

Thanks for your replies.

I'm attracted to the emphasis on nature, sensory work, music etc, but quite surprised how structured it is - there isn't that much free play.

But ultimately I think Smithagain is right, it's about the individual nursery and whether it feels right.

BiscuitStuffer Mon 01-Jun-09 22:16:08

DD went to a conventional nursery and now a montessori. I found there was not enough structure in her first one and it ended up very like a zoo when the kids were tired / hungry and accidents were occuring and people weren't really sure what was going on. With her current montessori I've noticed that it takes AGES to walk home as she is interested in every little thing and is totally fascinated! They have chunks of free play that last about 1 to 1.5 hours at a time and 2 organised things per day - one in the morning and one in the afternoon plus a rest period just after lunch and also a story just before each meal / snack. I think it's a nice relaxed pace and found it very soothing when I was sitting there settling her in!

juneybean Mon 01-Jun-09 23:19:05

It depends on the nursery, we have one round here that has had outstanding twice in ofsted. The outside is open all day, the children are pleasant and put an activity away before starting a new one.

GeneHunt Mon 01-Jun-09 23:29:57

It's all free play at Montessori. The teachers observe the child and work out what interests them. The adults then provide lots of activities that support the current interest. Your child chooses exactly what they want to do and do it until they are completely satisfied.

It might look structured, but it's structured to your child. It is a lovely start to life. My boys still talk about their Montessori nursery and they are 12 and 10yo.

alittleteapot Tue 02-Jun-09 23:04:54

I saw a lovely montessori school today. I then went to another more mainstream nursery (although i think most good mainstream nurseries now include some montessoriish elements) - and realised in retrospect that the children at the montessori did seem very calm but also quite serious. At the second place there was more laughter - more fun perhaps - and I do want my dd to have fun.

My other reservation about the montessori places I've seen is that they don't seem to facilitate role play to the extent of other nurseries, so, for example, no home corner or play shop, which I think is a shame. Apart from that, lovely things going on. Still not sure...

alittleteapot Wed 03-Jun-09 12:34:05

Went to see another one today. Realised another thing that bothers me. No cuddly toys or dolls - I love all the cooking type things but wonder why no nurturing toys. Probably sounds like I just shouldn't go this route - just helpful to share thought processes and see what others think...

MilaMae Wed 03-Jun-09 13:07:12

I avoided our local outstanding Montessori for my 3 due to the sitting down at tables and no role play thing. I'd also heard things from other parents whose children found it hard going. I was an early years teacher pre kids so wanted to get it right for my dc knowing how important these years are.

My lot went to our local outstanding pre-school which has been fantastic -walled garden,the most amazing lovely activities you could ever wish for inside and out,super structure with fantastically behaved kids. Most of all they had loads of fun and loved every minute.

What I'm trying to say is you sound unsure like I was.Montessori doesn't have the monopoly on structure,outdoors,good behaviour etc. Why don't you try looking at other options with good Ofsted reports there are many around.

Good luck.

alarkaspree Wed 03-Jun-09 13:13:42

Dd went to a Montessori nursery. It was a lovely place but it didn't really provide the right environment for her - she was very shy and the emphasis was on individual activities, so she didn't really play with the other children at all. A more traditional environment with organised group activities would have helped her to interact more and make friends.

They did have lots of role-play, home corner and dolls though so I don't think that's necessarily a characteristic of montessori nurseries.

girlandboy Wed 03-Jun-09 13:21:27

My ds went to one for a few sessions and it was awful for him.

If he wanted to play on the floor then he had to get a mat, unroll it, put his toy on it, play with it whilst sitting cross legged. His foot was moved by the helper because it touched the mat! When he finished playing with that toy, then he had to roll up his mat and put it away again.

Sitting at a table with the other children (about 12 of them) they had to take it in turns to pour rice into a tube and listen to the sound. Ds was nearly last in turn, and made the terrible mistake of putting his elbow on the table. He was told to take his arm off the table and wait his turn. This took 35 minutes which is a long time to wait, and boring to watch.

And I could go on................

A very calm atmosphere, but very dull too.

MegBusset Wed 03-Jun-09 13:25:41

I have just taken DS1 (2.3) out of the Montessori nursery he's been going to since Easter. It wasn't the right environment for him -- a nice nursery but much more aimed at older children who can sit down and practise writing their letters or whatever. DS1 is shy and struggled to fit in with the activities. They didn't have that much free play either. Although there were some elements that I really liked (tidying up, sitting down together for snacks, etc), I think it's too much like school for two-year-olds.

I have signed up DS1 for a mainstream pre-school in September which `i'm hoping he will enjoy more.

dilemma456 Wed 03-Jun-09 16:25:06

Message withdrawn

alittleteapot Wed 03-Jun-09 17:15:39

Interesting to read all your responses. I saw another one today and was struck by how serious all the children looked. Lovely and calm but, yes, a bit soulless. After reading your posts I don't think it's right for us. She gets lots of nature play and cooking and sensory stuff from me at home. She needs a more social environment, sunny tinkling laughter, a good home corner as she is obsessed with home-making. The trouble is the good ones round here don't do half days and I really want half days. God it's a minefield. The one I really want her to go to is great - mainstream but lots of nice earthy activities - BUT won't take her till 2 and a half which is January, and I'm having another baby in oct and would really like her settled by then.

julesrose Wed 03-Jun-09 19:40:49

I think any nursery can call themselves Montesori as long as they involve some elements - so they can end up being very different environments. I saw one when I was looking around that was a very strict one. The teachers called 'directors' stood around closely observing the children, some even had clipboards to mark the children's progress. These teachers semed very stern and the head was pretty stressed. Beautiful toys and tables etc, but when my dd went to take a toy off the shelf she had a firm hand placed over hers and was told to leave it there. They told us if the child hadn't mastered the task (lacing for example) they would be given it the following day so they learnt how to do it. When we left dh said it felt like a cult. And I kind of agreed with him.

CurryMaid Wed 03-Jun-09 19:42:39

Sorry to hijack, is there any link between Montessori and Steiner schools or none at all? I've just always wondered.

MilaMae Wed 03-Jun-09 20:08:55

Teapot I'd go with that one you really want her to go to.

They settle really quickly if it's the right one,one of my twins is really clingy but I never even had a whimper. Your dd will probably be bored anyway after a couple of months at home with a newborn-she'll be raring to go.

Short term pain will be worth it in the long run as she'll be there for quite a while and if it's the right one it'll be worth hanging out for.

MegBusset Wed 03-Jun-09 20:46:52

I would wait, too, and send her to the one you really like in Jan. TBH I think a lot of LOs aren't ready for pre-school until 2.5 anyway (unless they have already been at nursery). In retrospect, DS1 wasn't ready and I wish I'd left it til September.

MegBusset Wed 03-Jun-09 20:47:19

No link between Montessori and Steiner AFAIK.

MANATEEequineOHARA Wed 03-Jun-09 21:08:24

I looked at a Montessori School when we left Steiner (definitely NOT the same). I think it would suit some children, my dd may well have been one of those, but I just found some of the attitudes of the staff a little scary, the children were made to recite capital cities to me upon learning I was doing a geography degree, which was rather hmm

MyLovelyHorse Wed 03-Jun-09 22:00:31

Message withdrawn

TheMysticMasseuse Wed 03-Jun-09 22:09:25

dd goes to a pure montessori nursery (many montessori nurseries only have elements of the approach) where they only have montessori materials etc. it may look boring from the outside (lots of cleaning and scrubbing etc) but she positively adores it and is incredibly happy and well adjusted. she's only 3 but has made friends so i am absolutely comfortable she interacts socially and not missing out. the teachers are lovely and the place is a beautiful airy room with a lovely calm atmosphere which exudes joy. i knew from the moment i set foot in there, even befre i knew about the method, that it was ther ight place for her.

i visited another montessori nursery and thought it awful though...

alittleteapot Wed 03-Jun-09 23:19:13

MilaMae and MegBusset I've been thinking the same thing tonight. I've been rushing around like a mad woman trying to find something for dd before baby arrives but was thinking maybe three hardish months is worth it for the right place that is not only lovely but right around the corner. Only slight prob is they can't tell me we're in till october so i'm taking a bit of a gamble. Also people keep telling me i need to get help before baby arrives because it's really hard. Apart from that, would she associate being "pushed out" with new baby? Hopefully after three months she'll be getting used to the newborn and won't feel pushed out by starting nursery - what do you think?

MegBusset Wed 03-Jun-09 23:23:26

I have found going from one to two not as hard as I feared. In fact the days DS1 went to nursery were more stressed because I had to get us all out of the house by 9am. The other days, it doesn't matter if we're still faffing around by midday

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