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Thinking of changing from Prep School to Montessori...reception age 5

(24 Posts)
tmmy Sat 17-Sep-11 12:03:24

My ds will be 5 in march. Has been at very academic prep school since pre- reception. Is in reception now. As the pace of learning has accelerated he has become more and more despondent . Angry, reluctant to learn, scared of going wrong.... Saying things like ..I am rubbish at writing... so and so is much better than me. This is very upsetting.NOTE that much of the time he is happy. It is such a competitive environment....I opted for this school because I wanted the best for him, to give him opportunities that I did not have... But now feel it may have been a mistake I made out of fear. The truth is that I have not managed to like ANY of the parents. I feel that our values are so different.

There is a Montessori school on my road...I am seriously considering this as an option. I want him to enjoy being a child and enjoy learning, to be curious... perhaps putting on a tie and cap and going to this supper academic school is not so good . Many days he comes home from school and is happy, telling me fun things he got up to it is a very well regarded school...I am so confused. When I ask him if he would like to change schools, go somewhere where he can play a bit more, his answers are different each time. This makes it harder to decide

I also have a baby girl and the cost of staying at this school will double. We cant even see where the money will come from, but we would make it work...

Have you taken a child out of prep school and sent them to Montessori?

This is my first post!

TheMitfordsMaid Sat 17-Sep-11 12:25:55

What about the local state reception? Ours is fantastic and much better than the private alternatives.

savoycabbage Sat 17-Sep-11 12:30:49

Hello, I haven't no, but I did work as a reception teacher in a prep school for a year. I sort of fell into it as I was sent there as a supply teacher and stayed.

I sometimes wanted to weep for the children in my class. There was no play based learning at all. Everything seemed to be for show. For PE I was told to walk them round the perimeter of the park. Tourists were taking photos of them. I did the first week. The next week I took them to the playground. And the week after that I did a proper PE lesson in the park.

tmmy Sat 17-Sep-11 12:31:35

Not good at all. The Montessori on my road is meant to be a good one. I saw the list of secondary schools that the pupils go on to and it was great. I am concerned that the transition from Prep to Montessori will be hard, also the very small class sizes mean he could get freaked out when he leaves at 12...

tmmy Sat 17-Sep-11 12:33:14

Yes. I have cried for Ds...I am concerned that the sterile environment is too much.

savoycabbage Sat 17-Sep-11 12:35:26

When I went on to my next job in a local state school I felt like writing an anonymous letter to the parents of one little boy telling them to take him out of the school. He was so full of life and imagination and it was getting squeezed out of him every day. As soon as I started this next job I could imagine him playing in the pet shop corner rather than learning colours in French.

tmmy Sat 17-Sep-11 12:41:32

He seems so turned off. I dont like the idea of a 4 year old comparing him self to others and having feelings of inadequacy, however at montessori I am scared he will leave with huge gaps in his education. The idea that a child chooses what to learnconfuses me. I want it to work, but my son is so drilled in with gold stars and competition that he could just say f it. Im just not doing writing....

TheMitfordsMaid Sat 17-Sep-11 13:27:26

I don't understand your reluctance to take him out, based on what you've said. Have you been to the Montessori? Have you looked at the local primary?

tmmy Sat 17-Sep-11 18:57:57

I am reluctant to take him out because pupils at this school do so well...It seemed like such an opportunity.

tmmy Sat 17-Sep-11 19:00:10

I have looked at local primary and have friends with kids there. It is not so good. Will be visiting Montessori again soon to better understand the idea.

TheMitfordsMaid Sat 17-Sep-11 19:29:52

It doesn't matter how the other children do after leaving. If your DS isn't happy then he may do worse after this prep than in a different school. You need to match the school to the child.

hocuspontas Sat 17-Sep-11 19:35:30

All schools have to follow the EYFS so the day should consist of mainly playing at this stage. Are you sure they don't play as much as the Montessori?

MollieO Sat 17-Sep-11 19:42:58

Montessori is pretty strict. Yes they get to choose which activity they do but not how they carry out the activity. For example if they are using building blocks they have to go and get them one at a time and then put them back in a particular way when they are finished. At least that is what they did at ds's Montessori nursery. It wasn't just left for the children to do what they liked how they liked. He moved to prep school and wasn't behind when he started so he must have learned something at the Montessori!

In Reception they did academic work in the mornings and play in the afternoons. Ds would compare himself to others. I think that is natural. He is at a non-selective prep.

RueDeWakening Sat 17-Sep-11 21:15:58

Montessori is play-based learning - although the children can freely select what they want to do, their choices are in fact restricted, based on what activities the staff have made available IYSWIM? Not everything is available every day.

Also, in my DD's case, she was directed towards particular activities if the staff felt she would benefit from them - they didn't force her to do anything, but they did ask her if she would like to try... and normally she would.

I think it does depend on the setting though, as there are so many ways of delivering Montessori education.

Tgger Sat 17-Sep-11 21:23:10

My mother just asked me "Do you think he has learnt anything yet?!" in reference to my 4 year old (he's 5 in October) who has just started in reception at the local state primary.

Why did this seem so INAPPROPRIATE to me?! Well, I guess it's because I'd just told her details of how he was enjoying school- home corner- ice cream factory, paintings he's done and then I get this comment.

GRRRRRRRRRRRRRrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. I just left a stunned silent gap and said "Well, I don't know what you mean."

Think it shows our different attitudes to school at this age. Reception is mostly about play, socialising, fitting into the school routine, and yes, learning to write letters, numbers, phonics, early reading etc etc, but this last bit in my opinion comes last. Once they are 6 perhaps this last bit comes a bit higher up, but GRrrrrrrrrrrrrr, I think my mother is partly a different generation and partly doesn't value some of the same values as me.

sorry, this ended up about me and my son not you, but I just wanted to say follow your instincts and go with your gut. Look round your options if you are not happy with the school. DS's primary is actually pretty high achieving, but has outstanding personal and social development too- with happy happy children who learn to treat each other well etc etc. The combo is a winner for me smile

TheMitfordsMaid Sat 17-Sep-11 21:53:30

My DS has been in reception a week and he has told me about microscopes, the human eye (and how pupils get bigger and smaller) and had a mud fight with his best mate. All from play based learning and it suits him down to the ground.

hellymelly Sat 17-Sep-11 22:01:41

Here (west wales) they have a learning through play system until 7 (year 3) it is massively more relaxed than central London where we lived before here.Such a relief to not have sats etc. I really hate too much pressure too young. They should be playing at this age (my dd is also 4) and not feeling a huge push to compete .I think the montessori sounds much gentler for such a little boy.A happy time in childhood is the best grounding you can give a child, academic excellence can wait!

Ingles2 Sat 17-Sep-11 22:04:34

look ...are you absolutely sure your local state school is not suitable>?
Have you been to look at it? visited ? seen the children?
because tbh your posts of not so good, sound like sweeping statements without any fact.
If you research Montessori, you'll discover that it's a system developed by Maria Montessori primarily for dc with learning difficulties. Despite appearing to have an element of choice, the activities are regimented, and leave little room for creativity. If you thing this is suitable for your son, then go for it,...
but I suggest you look more closely at your local school

rabbitstew Sat 17-Sep-11 22:09:54

You child has up to fourteen years worth of school ahead of him. Do you really want it all carried out in the same, formal style? And do you want him ending up like the parents you dislike? Don't you trust your ds to be able to make his way in the world without a humongous shove up his little backside? And what exactly are the opportunities you feel you missed out on yourself? How important were these opportunities, really?

Munashe Sun 18-Sep-11 00:56:07

One thing is Montessori is clearly misunderstood sometimes. I have a DS in Montessori and I can speak highly about it. My eldest went to a state school and I really wish she had got the same opportunities as my younger child.

In terms of settling a friend took child out of local school and for 2 terms he was with younger kids just so she grasped the basic Montessori concepts. They moved her around Easter and she has blossomed. I don't know how big the Montessori you're thinking about is but ours is very small so kids are in 3 groups. Pre-school up to 5 then 5-8 and the 8-11. The few kids that have left at 11 have all gone to some fantastic selective schools and some getting scholarships.

While our is small they do offer some excellent specialist activities and languages are very much at the core too so there are specialists French and Spanish teachers from 4 and Latin from 7. The other good thing is kids work to their abilities, for an extremely bright child they aren't held back and equally a child who needs help will progress at their level but still making sure they reach their targets.

tmmy Sun 18-Sep-11 19:39:54

I like the idea of him spending a term in the younger group, if need be , to get used to the teaching method. It is a very small school. I am going in in the morning to meet and talk options. Thanks so much for all the posts x Just thinking about not having to spend the next 14 years fighting with my son about home work, the competition and lavish birthday parties out of all proportion makes me very happy. It may be a risk, to take him out of a top school ...but I think it is the right thing for my boy.

teacherwith2kids Sun 18-Sep-11 20:30:23

Just something to be aware of: 'Montessori' is not in any way a protected name. Any school can call itslef 'Montessori' even if that only means that a couple of staff have been on one Montessori training course and the general practice in the school is not remotely like the original Montessori method.

So if you go to visit the school, and like it, and think it will be right for your son, then go for it. However, don't read up about 'hard core' Montessori methods (which can be extremely controlling as a pp describes), or listen to others describing their experience and think 'I'll get something exactly like that if my son applies to this school'. You will get what that particular school offers, and it will be at least as individual and particular to that school as the education provided by different private schools with other 'labels', and probably more widely variable than normal state primary school education.

You have nothing to lose, also, by looking at all other options - find out from your LEA which state schools round you have places (remember that as reception has already started he can essentially be given a place anywhere if they have a place for him - you don't have to go to the most local school) and go and visit them too. If they don't feel 'right', that's fine - but the more information and comparison you have, the better the choice you will make in the end. It is absolutely worth moving a child once to a school that is better for him, but it is worth trying to make sure that this is something that ONLY happens once!

tmmy Mon 19-Sep-11 07:14:26

Tea here're kids ..thanks. This school is approved by the Montessori accreditation people. I agree that I must not change schools again..I will be doing some research..

levantine Mon 19-Sep-11 07:25:03

Are there not any non selective and more relaxed preps near you? I agree the school sounds absolutely wrong for your ds (I can imagine what a school like that would do for mine - it would be disastrous for his confidence)

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