Friday, January 11, 2008

I'll take Montessori for 200, Alex

Preschool...who knew it could be so complicated?

When it was time for Ava, my now kindergartner to go to preschool, I simply pooled the other mothers in our playgroup and promptly signed her up where her LBF (little best friend) was attending. Proud parenting moment...I know. It turned out just fine though, the play based religious affiliated preschool was good for her. The first two years she had wonderful teachers. This, her final year there has been ok...not great but not horrible either. I know I've written about this before, LBF is also a Chinese adoptee whom we met on our first adoption trip. The girls are practically inseparable and will attend different public schools in the same district next year for 1st grade. Honestly, the fact that she gets to keep close contact with LBF is a large part of why I'm keeping Ava at the school for another few short months. But now that Liv is preschool age, or will be in the fall I'm more seriously considering our early education options.

I'm sensing that Olivia might prefer a more low key child centered individualistic approach to time spent off mama's hip next fall. She self entertains pretty well and seems to have a decent attention span for a two year old. She is sensitive and kind. She will walk away from any confrontation and is fairly compliant for a two year old. I don't see her leading the band of three year olds in animal antics any time soon.

So, with this being said I wonder if she might be the type of kid who would do well in a Montessori program? I toured one school this week and they are accredited and seem to be Montessori purists. I liked the director and the kids seemed really happy. (Many Montessori programs only incorporate parts of the Montessori philosophy into their curriculum but are mostly play based programs.) However, they suggest signing a three year old up for 4-5 mornings a week. Oh, no that won't do for us. I can't imagine Liv going to school that many days a week at just 3 years old. Obviously they are catering to the working parent's schedule...which is fine...but not for us. (This school even seemed to have a feeder day care center down the street.)

I could opt for the mom's morning out program where she is now and continue into next year. But, it seems more like babysitting and I hate the way the teachers do a craft for the kids each week. I don't need a preschool teacher's obviously created craft on my pantry door each week. Why do preschool teachers seem to think that parents need perfectly constructed art each week? And what is my kid doing when they are completing the craft for my kid?

I did a little research into Waldorf schools. But I don't think we have one here in town. Then I looked into Reggio Emilia. I think I'd spend quite a bit of time as a preschool taxi service, there is not one on this side of town...that is if we could even get in.

Maybe the happy medium is accredited Montessori and finding one with morning hours to suit Liv's nap schedule, my reluctance to spend $100 a week on gas going back and forth to preschool and perhaps more importantly...allowing her a place to feel comfortable with other kids and grow up into a fine upstanding citizen who knows her way around a basket of beans. (forgive the small Montessori joke.)

Good many more years until kindergarten again?


tshapedgirl said...

I am knee deep in preschool madness right now as well. LT will start in the fall. It's big bizness around here- I attended a preschool fair last night, and the open houses start next week!

We're leaning towards a play-based school. I explored the Montessori schools around here, but I can't get past the fact that I am not welcome in the classroom. And like you- I'm not ok with sending LT to school for 5 days a week. There is plenty of time for that right?

Well, good luck on your search. It's been fun so far for me- I hope we can find the right fit for LT and for me!

OziMum said...

Urgh. Choosing your childrens place of education is hard. Poor Mikayla has been to 3 schools, til we found the one she's in, and absolutely love it. Its perfect for Harry too, so all is well... it just takes us 40mins in peak hour traffic to get there!

Here in Australia, we don't have too many of the "pre" school schools, they're usually in the uber expensive private schools. So we only have daycare, til kindy.

Trish said...

I have three boys and am past the looking for school stage, but I thought I would share my experience. I have three boys 8, 6and 4. They all go to a Montessori School (my oldest for 5 years now). I started out blissfully ignorant, just liked the preschool program and the people. So, my now 8 year old started going three mornings a week (at three years of age). One comment that was made about NOT being welcome in the classroom is a HUGE RED FLAG. Great Montessori programs are about a partnership with the parent to educate the child. I've toured many schools in different states to learn more about it. Every school I've been to allows the parents to come volunteer (i.e., be in the classroom) or just come observe (sit quietly and watch) in the classroom at ANY time. They prefer a day notice, but will allow you without notice. PLEASE do some more research on the school that will not let you visit your child's classroom. That doesn't sound very Montessori to me.


Danny D said...

After college I was interviewing for positions at daycares and preschools and stumbled upon Montessori. If done right, I think it's the best environment for any child. The goal is to connect the child to their environment and culture. Every incremental step is isolated (from the muscle movements needed to write to the steps needed to dress oneself on their own) and teachers can help guide the child through their own self education by providing the right materials that calls out to their need at the time. Of course that all depends on the individual teacher but the training provides an amazing blueprint.

I have a problem with classrooms that don't allow observations, but I can tell you from first hand experience, when parents are not informed of expectations or do not respect them, the classroom is disrupted.

For the 3-6 year olds, the primary goals of the materials is to develop order, concentration, coordination, and independence.
New adults in the classroom disrupt that process, especially when they interact with the environment or children. I sympathize with teachers trying to protect their children from distractions as well as parents wanting to see what goes on.

Good luck finding the right school for you and yourr child.