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academic prep school or good montessori?? What is it to be!?

(25 Posts)
tmmy Fri 30-Sep-11 19:41:13

Am so confused. Is a Montessori education best? I am finding the whole prep school thing stressy. The atmosphere is frankly repressive. He is happy enough there, although still complaining about having to sit at a desk all day ( is nearly 5)

The thing is, I do not want to throw away what is essentially a great education, if a bit stiff, because I cant take the snooty mums, and the rules rules rules.

I just love the Montessori idea, and having visited the school I feel it is a positive nurturing environment. However.....Am I doing him more harm than good? At prep school he would leave and likely be in a very strong position to go to the school of his choice. Montessori? I just dont know what his options would be. The Montessori school is approved by the Montessori gang, but when I asked them to provide me with a list of where pupils continue education , I was met with reluctance and told they go to many places ....AAAAAGH.

Also. Cant help but feel that son has not been invited back to play at other kids house because I have failed to create a relationship with other mums. This is sad for him, He is a great little guy and I feel that me not managing to be part of that community means that he will pay...I think I would suit the Montessori set up more. But it is not about me. It is about him.

rabbitstew Fri 30-Sep-11 19:57:54

The way you describe it, it's not about him, either, it's about his future, and not his real future but a future you imagine he is only capable of having if he goes to a particular, small selection of schools. Can you not give the poor boy any credit and let him, within the confines of a still very select and safe environment like a Montessori school, forge his own path in an environment that suits him NOW, not one that moulds him into a person he clearly isn't now and might never want to be???? He hates sitting at desks, you have no great liking for his current school and no liking whatsoever for the parents. Only someone entirely lacking in any self confidence themselves and projecting that lack of self confidence onto their child would even consider keeping their child at a fee paying school that left them feeling that cold.

Tgger Fri 30-Sep-11 20:48:22

Awwww, you sound a bit confused.

Think you have to decide how attached you are to the idea that your son receives a high quality private school education, which may certainly gain him academic qualifications, but may leave something to be desired in other areas perhaps?

Also, it would probably not be a school of his choice, it would be your choice surely as that is what we do as parents, we make choices for our children.

We have opted for the local state school that we can walk to, the community is mixed, the school has a lot of opportunites for the children, it has a fantastic feel good vibe where everyone is nurtured encouraged to find "friends like them" and to be kind, polite and fair. The academic standards seem middling to good. Perhaps DS will not be stretched as he might have been at a prep but I think he will have a fantastic time and the creative aspects of the school suit him down to the ground.

In regard to the other Mums, I have made some friends (DS was in nursery there too), but I see it as a long road re playdates etc- they have several years in the school. Also, you don't have to get on with the Mums especially to invite your son's friends back to play- you just have to be able to approach them to offer the invite ;-)). There are some Mums who are clearly "not my sort" but then this is similar to life.

In regard to the academic stuff we are very happy with it so far- DS seems to have learnt a lot of phonics in nursery and can read (quite easy level) books. We will reassess at 7 and see how we feel, but my instinct is that he will stay at the school.

I don't know if this is helpful, just I think you have to see the bigger picture and decide what your priorities are. Good luck!

goinggetstough Fri 30-Sep-11 21:17:57

Only you can make the decision for your DS. A couple of questions for you: - - How much time does he actually sit at desk. A four year old often has a distorted view of time. I am sure the pre prep school will be more traditional than the Montessori but do check on the timings and how his day is split up.
- Have you invited any of his new friends home for tea. Invitations work both ways.
Hope it works out for you whatever you decide.

tmmy Fri 30-Sep-11 21:27:59

Rabbitstew - you are right. On this issue I have very much lacked confidence, and it is about the imagined future.I want him to be happy NOW but I dont want him leaving primary education somehow behind because of my bad decision making.

hocuspontas Fri 30-Sep-11 21:37:27

Prep schools have to follow the EYFS. I can't see how they achieve that if YR children are sitting at a desk all day. Either your ds is exaggerating grin or the school are breaking the law.

Michaelahpurple Fri 30-Sep-11 23:35:30

hocuspontas - prep schools follow their own path. Their classrooms are rarely set up in such a way to allow as much freedom of movement and outside space access as the most current thoughts on EYFS. There is a greater expectation of sitting and working formally, albeit with carpet time break outs etc. For instance, two of the discipline problems I was called in for last year were DS going to lie down in a corner when very tired, and stretching his arms out when cramped in a way that "took up too much room". He came from a very free-form nursery and found it tough

tmmy Sat 01-Oct-11 07:40:47

yes. Obviously he is not sat down ALL DAY, but probably too much for him. He is finding it tough, and there have been several incidents all told to me by him in passing that have got me thinking I would rather he spent his childhood in a more understanding environment. However, not at the cost of a good education.

rabbitstew Sat 01-Oct-11 10:18:01

Hi, tmmy. There is not one way of providing a good education - there are several ways of educating children in a positive and productive way. Since you can afford to, you might as well find the way that suits you and your child the best rather than accepting something that you hope is going to be good for you but is actually rather unpleasant, like cod liver oil, because if it turns out not to have been the right thing after all, you won't even have happy memories of it to fall back on! I believe the Montessori approach is generally well regarded and can produce excellent results, if it suits the child and is supported by the parents. Fwiw, I think my dss would love sitting at desks more and having a more formal education, but they are definitely in the minority in their age group and have still enjoyed the less formal approach to learning that takes place in their school and have still managed to learn a lot.

rabbitstew Sat 01-Oct-11 10:54:28

Or you could always look at a few more schools before you make up your mind - why not look at other prep schools that offer a more "traditional" education than Montessori, if you feel a bit safer with that, but possibly don't quite go to the extremes that the current school does?

My eldest db is an example of what a bad idea it is to perservere with a school that doesn't make the child happy and doesn't satisfy the parents. My parents have spent many subsequent years asking themselves why they didn't pull him out of that environment sooner, because he still looks back on those school years as a miserable, confidence sapping experience.

cory Sat 01-Oct-11 11:08:06

He is still little and it feels as if the whole responsibility rests on your shoulders, but that won't always be the case. In a few years' time you will see that his way of dealing with education and his sense of responsibility become increasingly important in proportion to anything that can be foisted on him from outside.

It is possible to do well academically from all sorts of education: prep school, state school, home ed, Montessori no doubt though I know less about them. What you have to decide is if his current experience is likely to foster a love of learning in him or not.

tmmy Mon 03-Oct-11 18:23:08

cory I think not. ( fostering love of learning) He complains, moans, says things like...im rubbish at writing, I hate school etc. I know that children can complain about things, and that it may take time to settle, but really?

I find this, along with the frosty mummy gang too much to handle. I hope Im not making a mistake, but I think we have to go. I love the Montessori concept, just hope Im not cutting off his fingers despite my face.

SophieJo Mon 03-Oct-11 20:08:04

Academic prep school.

LittleDeerandMe Mon 03-Oct-11 20:44:32

I think montessori does give good academic results though, as well as being probably more enjoyable.

Elibean Mon 03-Oct-11 20:56:28

You sound to me like someone who is longing for the Montessori ethos but just needs to give herself permission to go for it....

Current school sounds like a struggle for your ds and for you. FWIW, my brother (and I, and my sister) went to a good Montessori and did very well academically, and were very happy at the same time. I am SO glad my parents chose it for me (one of their better parenting moments!).

Elibean Mon 03-Oct-11 20:59:03

ps whereas DH, interestingly, went to a prep school that sounds similar to your ds's, and was utterly miserable - he hated school till his parents moved to Ireland and he went to a completely different sort of school.

sugartongue Tue 04-Oct-11 09:51:11

I'd have jumped at the chance of a montessori primary if one had been available! DS went to a montessori nursery and he found it so wonderful - it really fostered a love of learning (which was lost for a while in a chaotic reception class) and I wished at the time that they would extend themselves at least into and infant school. It was all just so calm and happy, but busy with lots to engage the children. They had lots of outside space - but more like a garden than a playground with chickens to take care of! A lot was expected of the children in terms of responsibility - e.g. you can play with what you want, but you have to put away what you're already playing with first. The children weren't patronised - i.e. 3 and 4 year olds would be doing a project on Van Gogh. I felt like it was the perfect learning environment and I'm sure that a school that was truely montessori with the right staff could be a place in which a child could become quite intellectual frankly! If that's the kind of place that would suit your child, then I think it would result in a very happy childhood, and a good preparation for anything!

CaptainNancy Tue 04-Oct-11 10:14:52

I find it very odd that the school would not provide a list of destinations- surely all independent (montessori or not) would do this?

tmmy Tue 04-Oct-11 12:09:04

elibean and sugartoungue Yippee. I so want to hear what you say!

Captain Nancy As do I. I have asked repeatedly. The lady said...The children continue education in 3 types of establishment. About 1/3 Private academic schools, 1/3 State 1/3 alternative philosophy schools. We should have a list compiled. But we dont.She also invited me to a parents evening where I could meet ex pupils to discuss and find out about the Montessori experience. ERM... They are obviously hand picked star pupils and I dont see this as a valid reflection. I so want this to be the right place. The school is considered to be one of the " good Montessori" I know this from talking to parents and researching the school. But I do not know conclusively where exactly pupils continue education.Also find it VERY STRANGE.

Proon Tue 04-Oct-11 12:39:26

Things to ask:
How long has the school been going as a Montessori school?
How many of the teachers are Montessori-trained?
How many are not, but are in training?
Can I see a copy of your curriculum?

DS was in Montessori nursery and we seriously considered primary for him. I saw the curriculum and some of the teaching materials and was impressed.

What I would say is that it can be a bit of a cult of personality, like any school really, so if you don't get a good vibe from the owner or the environment, don't do it. Same advice as for any school. It's just that the methods can be quite different and you don't want to not be able to judge whether or not your instincts are right.

Elibean Tue 04-Oct-11 12:46:02

It did rather come across loud and clear that you were hoping for endorsement of your instincts!

I say trust them whatever we all say. Our children need mums who trust their instincts smile

Forgot to add, I grew up in Oxford and most of the kids at the Montessori primary were the children of academics. My own father is a philosopher. In my limited experience, I would not ever think academic v. Montessori....certainly not mutually exclusive.

poppycat04 Tue 04-Oct-11 12:50:21

Hi, haven't read whole thread ( I know aaagh!) but in rush and your thread caught my eye. We were in similar position. Started DS1 (pfb!) at academic primary, outstanding ofsted etc. We talked ourselves into it despite our gut feelings yelling Montessori. He did 1 yr and 6 weeks there, becoming more and more unhappy.( There was nothing wrong with school, they just wanted to bend the kids to fit ).
Finally we withdrew him, started him at other school and he never looked back.
I seriously suggest you go with your gut feeling. You know your child best and if they are happy and settled, the learning just happens.

rabbitstew Tue 04-Oct-11 12:51:37

Tmmy - what sorts of schools are you hoping your ds will got on to after his Montessori primary? Surely you can see from the 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 division between private, alternative and state for secondary education, that parents choose a Montessori primary school for a far wider range of reasons than the sorts of parents that choose a highly pressured, academic prep school and therefore will be likely to have made a far wider range of choices post-Montessori??? What exactly are you hoping to see on the list of schools attended post-Montessori? Eton???? State Grammar schools???? Waldorf Steiner schools??? What sorts of schools would be good enough?! Or are you hoping to look beyond that and see which children ended up at Oxford and Cambridge? Or which ended up as High Court judges????? I seriously doubt you will find (m)any of the children went on from their Montessori primary school to a failing comprehensive.

poppycat04 Tue 04-Oct-11 12:58:54

Ok just finished reading thread.... Definitely think Montessori!

mousymouse Tue 04-Oct-11 13:03:32

my ds just started at a montessori school. I feel that this was the right choice for us.
the list of schools the pupils go on to reads impressive, but that was not important for us. we want ds to like learning. if then later he wants to become a bin man if that makes him happy...

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