What are people's experiences of Montessori?(15 Posts)
Thinking of sending our son to a Montessori nursery
Love it! Love the ethos and my DD's one is tiny which I also love. Any specific questions let me know.
Thanks twiggy how old was your DD when she started? Does she enjoy it? How much outside time do they get. Sorry for all the questions but I'm new to this
Ours is amazing. They vary considerably in terms of how 'Montessori' they are. There are different levels of accreditation. Some follow the Montessori principles very closely My children's pre-school was fully accredited and was fabulous. But it isn't the level of accreditation that will determine how good a pre-school it is, but it is worth having a look at how they use they apply the Montessori principles, and the amount of materials they have.
Hugely depends on the nursery - I looked around two that called themselves Montessori and they were very different. I like how they promote independence (pouring own drinks, mopping up own messes etc) and the mix of ages rather than the usual baby / toddler / preschool split.
She was just 2, now 3 and will be upping her hours in January. She loves it, seems to genuinely think a lot if her 'teachers' and misses it when she doesn't go. My DD spends AGES outside, rain, hail and shine which I love as outside stuff isn't really my thing. The overriding principal that I like is choosing what you want to do and when within a small number of defined 'rules' (respect, tidying up after yourself, caring for others for example). I also like the fact that they are mixed ages, I think this positively encourages responsibility and empathy for those younger than them. The 'big ones' are actively encouraged to help and interact with the younger children and I like the fact that the younger ones eventually become those with a levels of responsibility rather than moving to another class with children of the same age. The setting of ours isn't glossy or posh but very simple and pared back, I like the fact that all the toys are wooden and the place is full of their art work, it's a simple setting with simple values and I like that!.
I don't think there are a lot of "pure" Montessori nurseries around. I like the ethos of allowing a child to develop interests independently and to provide opportunities for concentration and focus on the task. One thing to keep in mind is that the system was created for working class children that had a lot of opportunities for free play with friends and siblings and was not supposed to last all day. I think moving from an activity to an activity on their own for the whole day would be impossible for the majority of children.
My DS went to a very purist Montessori. I loved it. It had such wonderful, interesting activities for the children to choose- much more sophisticated than activities I have seen in other pre-schools (am a teacher, so seen lots of nurseries attached to schools). One of DS's favourites was to light a floating candle with a match, put a glass jar over it and watch the water rise in the jar while the oxygen was used up. I don't think many settings would let a 3yo do that themselves!
I thought it was great that the children were expected to be independent and they were encouraged to build up their capacity concentrate without adult input for long periods of time.
It also had a huge emphasis on the outdoors and had a vast field full of climbing equipment and a veg patch to rival Mr. Bloom.
However, it was NOT quite right for my DS. I have only really realised that since he has gone to a very different setting for Reception. The Montessori expected him to develop an intrinsic understanding of social etiquette. DS has traits of ASD and really struggles to see things from other people's points of view. The nursery were concerned and kept telling him off for getting social interaction wrong, calling us in, trying to explain to him etc, but what they were never prepared to do was just give him some black and white rules to follow- they wanted it all to be innate. He was actually really stressed out by it and resorted to biting his fingers until they bled. He was having regular nightmares about nursery too.
He is now with a very experienced, quite stern, Reception teacher who has just given him a list of things he must never do, and of things he must always do, and he is fine. No more 'behaviour' and he is SO much more relaxed.
DS went to a Montessori from the age of 6 months until he started school. We all loved it. It was very small and welcoming and certainly developed his independence. That was 20 years ago though so I don't know if much has changed.
Ow - your poor DS Charles! I think generally they teach great values (my two attend one; I am thinking of training to be a Montessori teacher) and the materials help children understand complex ideas, fractions etc.
Some people I know haven't had the satisfaction with them that they have with other settings. If you want big 'results' (e.g. emphasis on school-type activities such as reading/writing) and your child is not pushing to do those kinds of things, they won't encourage or coax an interest out of them. The main ethos is that the 'work' (learning through play, really) is child led - the teachers observe, facilitate but primarily stay out of it and let the child do what they want, as PP said within those simple boundaries. If your child wants to practise writing, do complex maths, try to read etc. they will definitely accommodate that, but as I say it has to come from them. This is in a preschool setting; there may be more structured learning come Reception year or in Montessori schools. I know little about how these work with the 'Method'.
Also, I've noticed since starting school that my DS has become more assertive and confident socially and I wonder if the calmness and general emphasis on activities rather than just pure larking about, such as you may get in a playground, made this side of him slower to emerge.
I think though just be led by your child (no pun intended!) - mine both regularly say/said 'I had a great day at nursery today!' If your DC doesn't give you good feedback then consider another setting.
I think they are invaluable for empowering the child, developing concentration and consideration of others.
I agree that it works best for shorter bursts - a three hour morning is just right IMO, for Montessori.
I've also noticed that it doesn't seem to prepare kids so well for the hurly burly of the playground - it's so calm, controlled and organised that a standard YR free play environment is pretty chaotic and noisy in comparison. I actually think my dd would have preferred an extra year at Montessori and then straight to Y1, which is calmer and more focused, but of course we couldn't do that. And of course, it may just be her personality, and nothing to do with Montessori.
My DS1 went to a Montessori nursery when he was two but it wasn't right for him at all. They were very keen on the methods but to the detriment of actually caring for the children - eg they ignored them if they were crying, didn't wipe noses etc. After six weeks of going, half the staff still didn't know his name. It had an outstanding ofsted rating, but he got on a million times better when I removed him and sent him to a satisfactory rated mainstream preschool.
Loved it myself 35 years ago, love it for DS1 (now in reception) and DS2 (2.5) also loves it, despite taking longer to adapt than his brother (who stayed 3 hours happily from his first day). DS's M school was fairly purist but did not really mix ages, which I would have preferred. Otherwise a very calm, purposeful environment which was ideal for my boys. Outside space was limited, but this is due to where we live. My favourite teacher (who had DS1 for 4 terms) allowed free flow between inside and garden, so no concerns there.
My own Montessori was very pure and we played out at least 3 times a day, longer in good weather.
Would definitely recommend, but you need to due diligence any nursery v carefully.
I think you have to look at the individual nursery and compare it with other individual nurseries in the area. We chose DS's Montessori nursery because it was small and friendly and seemed to suit his personality. It was a calm environment, though that may have been more to do with having 8 kids in the room instead of 40 at his previous nursery. They have some good learning toys but they don't have a monopoly on that. Was his nursery "pure" Montessori? Probably not, but it was a good nursery for us.
The principles behind Montessori are pretty similar to what EYFS says anyway. Learning through play, being child led, promoting independence. I've never visited a nursery setting that didn't promote independence - it's in their own interests after all.
If you want big 'results' (e.g. emphasis on school-type activities such as reading/writing) and your child is not pushing to do those kinds of things
That wasn't the case in ds's Montessori. He didn't want to do that sort of stuff but he was writing his name by the time he left.
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