Will My Child Do Well in Montessori?

classroomPlease note: if you’ve found this blog post, you may be considering Montessori for your child, or your child is having issues in their current setting, whether Montessori or traditional schooling.

Since I can’t observe your child, the classroom, your home situation, or the school they are in, I give the same advice to everyone:

1. If you are considering Montessori for your child, visit the school, observe, and make sure it meets the guidelines for a quality Montessori school. The only way you can know if your child will do well there is to try it! Please read through this entire post as I address every question and concern that you might have.

2. If you have any concerns about your child’s current school situation, whether Montessori or traditional, please first schedule a visit to the school and observe your child on a normal school day, for at least an hour but preferably more. After that, schedule a conference to talk with your child’s teacher(s) and the school director to discuss your concerns and observations.

I cannot give specific advice since I don’t know your situation firsthand. Again, please read this whole post as I address every question and concern you might have. There is no need to leave a comment with the details of your situation – I give the same advice to everyone :)

How can you know if your child will do well in Montessori?

Montessori is the ideal way to learn, but it works best when:

1) The child starts Montessori at age 3 or soon after

2) The child stays in Montessori consistently

3) The home is run in a Montessori fashion (quality wooden toys rather than electronic ones; limited TV; lots of reading and outdoor time; children are taught to respect others)

4) The child’s school is an authentic Montessori environment

5) The parents understand Montessori and see their child’s education as long-term rather than expecting instant results or changes, and respects the teachers’ knowledge and training

6) The attitude of the parent: staying positive in spite of bumps in the road, volunteering at the school or PTO, and encouraging your child

Any variation from those 6 points will affect how well a child adjusts to a Montessori program and how much they will thrive in Montessori.

So, as a parent, you can see that you are in charge of many of these factors:

1) You can put your child in a Montessori school as soon as is feasible

2) You can keep your child in a Montessori program rather than pulling them out and putting them back in

3) You can run your home in a Montessori fashion (See: How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way)

4) You can check the school out thoroughly, including observation, feedback from other parents, and its reputation in the community (See my post about What to Look for in a Montessori School)

5) You can educate yourself regarding the Montessori philosophy (there’s so much information available online) and treat your child’s teachers with respect

6) Maintain a positive attitude and become involved at your child’s school

Here are a few characteristics of your child that could influence the outcome:

1) The child’s personality plays a role. A child who is flexible and adjusts easily to new situations will adjust more easily to any new environment, including Montessori

2) If the child has special needs, that may play a role in how well they do in Montessori (see my recent post about Montessori and the Special Needs Child for more information)

3) This is probably the most important one: if your child has spent any amount of time in a traditional education setting where they have received grades and rewards, where learning is a matter of “filling in the blank” with the right answer, and where the teacher is the ultimate authority, it may be very difficult for them to adapt to Montessori

Current brain research tells us that the Montessori method is the natural way to learn, one that follows the child’s own instincts and inner motivation. When a child starts Montessori at an early age, they are invited to learn with their hands, discover things on their own, and follow their own interests.

If that natural learning pattern is disrupted by time spent in a traditional education setting, it can be very difficult for the child to leave behind the grades and rewards and feel that they are in charge of their own educational journey. That is why we always recommend a child start Montessori by age 3, before grades and rewards become part of the curriculum.

You can’t know for sure how your child will do in Montessori until they try it. Even if you are doing your best to be the right kind of “Montessori parent”, things may not work out. Or your child may love it. So I recommend that parents become as informed as they can, and then try it! The vast majority of children love the Montessori method and thrive in Montessori.

What can you do if your child starts Montessori and seems to be struggling?

Sometimes the teachers have brought in “non-Montessori” things like rewards, worksheets, and too much homework. Other times there the child has a behavioral or learning issue that is causing a problem. Sometimes, unfortunately, there is bullying.

The first thing to do is sit down and talk with your child’s teacher, preferably one-on-one. Perhaps there is something they can change in the classroom to help your child adjust. Perhaps there is something you can change at home. Perhaps if they know more about your child and what makes them “tick”, things will improve. But nothing can happen until you talk to them.

If communication with your child’s teacher seems like a struggle (for instance, it seems like they are treating your child unfairly, or are not committed to helping your child succeed), request a conference with the teacher and the school director. Talk things over before making a decision to pull your child out of school.

Another thing to keep in mind is to give it time. Children take time to adjust to a new school of any kind; it can take time to make friends, to feel comfortable in the classroom, to learn how to use the materials, to become familiar with that specific school and the way it operates. There’s usually a 1-3 month period of adjustment when a child starts any new school, including Montessori. Take a deep breath, stay positive, and your child will probably emerge from over that hump victoriously.

My last piece of advice is to remain respectful. Don’t badmouth your child’s teacher in front of your child. Don’t gossip to other parents. Seek out the teacher to clarify something that your child passed on to you that you don’t understand. Talk to the teacher on the phone or meet at the school during non-school hours, without your child present. You can let your child know that you are working on helping them feel better at school without giving them all the details.

If you are considering homeschooling with Montessori, you face a slightly different set of challenges, although much of this post is applicable to your situation as well. See this post about Homeschooling with Montessori for more info.

Parents, any words of advice on how to choose a school or how to help your child adjust to Montessori? Teachers, any advice for parents considering Montessori?

Other helpful links:

Top Ten Reasons to Be Glad You’ve Chosen Montessori for Your Child
Bringing Montessori Discipline Into the Home
What Montessori Really Looks Like
From the NAMC blog: Is It Too Late for My Child to Attend a Montessori School?

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77 Responses to “Will My Child Do Well in Montessori?”

  • Heather Koelle said at October 31st, 2010 at 2:01 pm :

    All three of my grown children went to Montessori. They all really good in math, and did well in school (with the exception of one, but at least he got a good foundation).

  • Lori Bourne said at November 1st, 2010 at 3:07 am :

    Hi, Heather! I’m glad you chimed in, because I think parents like hearing from someone who has grown children who went through Montessori. It’s great to know that Montessori’s unconventional approach to math pays off!

  • Brigitta Hoeferle said at November 2nd, 2010 at 3:45 pm :

    It’s for EVERY child, but not every parent…

  • Lori Bourne said at November 2nd, 2010 at 3:49 pm :

    I’ve heard that too, Brigitta, but I think it sounds a little cynical so I didn’t mention it in the post. In my experience, it’s true that not every parent can adapt to Montessori but in some cases, they don’t get enough parent education to really know what to expect.

  • Fatima Bhyat said at November 5th, 2010 at 3:07 pm :

    Thanks for the article…especially since it is our year end and parents would like to know “how is my child doing”. It’s a great help!!!

  • Lori Bourne said at November 5th, 2010 at 3:09 pm :

    You are very welcome, Fatima, glad to be of help! You might also find this post helpful:

    How to Evaluate the Progress of a Montessori Child

  • izzy said at November 10th, 2010 at 7:10 am :

    Thanks so much for posting this. Now I realized the importance of being Montessori-consistent in both school and home settings.

  • Lori Bourne said at November 10th, 2010 at 9:25 am :

    Yes, it is so important! I love it when schools do a lot of parent education so that parents know how to run their homes in a Montessori style. It really helps the child to do well in Montessori.

  • kelly @kellynaturally said at November 10th, 2010 at 8:33 pm :

    My children have been in Montessori for several years. I have nothing but great things to say about it!! My children are self-directed, internally motivated, and WANT to help. They do things I would never have considered they could (my daughter was writing in cursive at age 4) at their ages. The philosophy teaches peaceful conflict resolution, collaborative learning, and older children naturally teach and guide younger ones. But the best part, really, above anything else, is they ask to go to school; they look forward to it, and bring home tales of what work they’ve done and things they’ve learned. Their love of learning is palpable, and started this young, I am sure it will be a life-long benefit to them.

  • Lori Bourne said at November 10th, 2010 at 9:12 pm :

    Hi, Kelly! I am so glad to hear feedback like that. Those are all the things we love to see in Montessori kids – proof that they are getting an authentic Montessori experience. You are absolutely right, it will be beneficial to them their whole lives. I love seeing those traits in my own children too.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  • Lucy said at November 13th, 2010 at 5:21 pm :

    Hi – my son went through Montessori preschool – K . He then started Montessori in our public school and is currently finishing 5th grade Montessori. His public school experience has been incredible – not only has he benefited acedemically but even more important socially. He has had 2 fantastic Montessori teachers in public school.

    I was so inspired with his preschool – K that I enrolled in teacher training and now own/teach in my own Montessori preschool – K – I love it!

    I am wondering if you have any parents that confuse Montessori with Waldorf education. I see the two methods as having nothing in common and I am always surprised that most Waldorf parents do no research into the root (Anthroposophy) of the (Waldorf) methodology.

    Thanks – Lucy

  • Lori Bourne said at November 13th, 2010 at 5:26 pm :

    Hi, Lucy! I love stories about how Montessori parents become Montessori teachers!

    There are definitely people out there who lump Montessori and Waldorf together – not confusing them, necessarily, but assuming that all alternative forms of education are similar. Luckily there is so much good information online it’s easy to research both types and find out about them.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  • Krissi Lancaster said at November 19th, 2010 at 5:15 pm :

    Hi Lori,

    My 8 year old daughter has been at an excellent Montessori school since 1st grade. Unfortunately, I wasn’t educated on Montessori before that point, but happy to say that I am going through the teacher training and will be the Lower Elementary teacher next year:)

    She had an excellent 1st and 2nd grade year, however she has spent much more time socializing rather than working this year. Do you have any advice on how to handle this? I have been bringing home any work that she did not get to during the day, but this only seems to be backfiring- instead of feeling motivated while at school, she is simply upset that she has to come home and work (thinks mom is too strict).

    Any advice is VERY much appreciated.

    I just recently discovered your site and absolutely love it.

  • Lori Bourne said at November 19th, 2010 at 5:41 pm :

    Hi, Krissi! So glad that your daughter has had a great time in Montessori, and that you are becoming a Montessori teacher!

    I’m not quite clear from your comment if you are one of her teachers? Anyway, I encourage Montessori teachers to use monthly workplans (you can find examples on our free downloads page) rather than worrying about how much work gets done each day.

    I would put the responsibility on your daughter to finish her workplan, and have some kind of logical consequence if she does not. I would not bring home work that she doesn’t finish at school – that only gives her more reason to socialize at school and not do work.

    I encourage teachers to have students do a self-assessment once a week (common questions they answer include “Did I make good work choices?” and “Did I focus on my work?”) This opens their eyes to their own choices and behavior rather than us just telling them what to do.

    Montessori is all about giving the child responsibility, so find some ways to make it her job to finish her work, then back off and keep out :)

  • Alina T. said at November 20th, 2010 at 7:59 am :

    Hello – I am currently trying to make the decision on whether to keep my children in a private Montessori school that goes to grade 8, or whether to pull them into a “regular” school system in grade 1.

    My first is currently in a Montessori pre-school (has been since 18 months) and I am very impressed with his skills.

    However some of my concerns are:
    – How do they handle integration in a regular large high school in grade 9?
    – Are they able to go from the freedom of Montessori into a traditional grade 9 class or will they struggle with the “sit down and open you books” type of learning?

    Also, if there’s anyone who has had kids in Montessori:
    – is there regular homework?
    – if not, how do parents track and help the child in various areas? (I like to be involved in their school work). I would like to know if they are falling behind or not understanding certain areas sooner rather than wait until the year end parent interviews? (i.e. will I know whether he needs more help with math, or with language etc etc)

    If anyone has had any experience with the above please let me know…

    Thanks! :)

  • Lori Bourne said at November 20th, 2010 at 8:35 am :

    Hi, Alina! Your first two questions are answered in this post: Transitioning from Montessori to Traditional School.

    As far as your other questions, those differ by school so you’ll need to talk to the director and teachers about how they handle homework, how they keep parents up-to-date on their children’s progress, etc.

  • Bhuvan said at January 10th, 2012 at 2:30 pm :

    What does everyone think about the mixed age set-up for the kids who attend 3 to 5 year old Montessori class ? I have a 3 year old boy and he is the youngest in the class and the older kids keeps bothering him. I really love Montessori curriculum but I don’t want him not enojoy the school because of the mixed age set-up. Have you had experienced this kind of issues with your kids in the mixed age set-up ? I don’t want my son to get bothered by the old kids all the time and at the same time pick on the bad habits from the older kids. Please share your thougts.

  • Lori Bourne said at January 10th, 2012 at 2:42 pm :

    In Montessori, all classrooms are traditionally mixed-age group, from 0-3, 3-6, 6-9, and 9-12. That is the way it’s supposed to be.

    It is completely the job of the teachers in the room to ensure that all students are treated with respect by establishing ground rules, communicating them to the children, and enforcing them.

    If that is done properly, older children teach the younger ones in a helpful way, and the inter-age relationships are truly special and positive, not negative.

    You need to meet with the teachers at the school and share your concerns.

  • Cam said at January 23rd, 2012 at 12:05 pm :

    How important is accreditation? We’re looking at putting our soon to be 5 year old into a Montessori program, and we’ve visited one and spoke with the other on the phone. One was ok with it, the other said, “oh no, he HAS to have been in from age 2 or 3 because we’re certified. I don’t know what the OTHER school is doing, but the whole Montessori philosophy is…” And she went on and on. Doesn’t it seem to contradict the idea that children are designed to learn? It seems that they are designed to learn as long as you do it in one particular way in a very small window of time. Just curious…

  • Lori Bourne said at January 23rd, 2012 at 1:40 pm :

    Hi, Cam! Most Montessori schools are affiliated with either the American Montessori Society (AMS) or Association Montessori Internationale (AMI). That basically means they pay a yearly fee to be an affiliated school but there’s nothing beyond that.

    Very few Montessori schools are accredited by AMS or AMI. In order to be accredited, a school has to undergo a very rigorous process of meeting many standards regarding the school building, materials, staff, etc. and be visited several times by teams of officials from the accreditation committee.

    However, whether or not a Montessori school accepts children at a specific age or bases acceptance on whether or not a child has completed a certain number of years in Montessori is simply the specific policies of the school in question. I helped one school I worked at to become accredited and I don’t remember having to include a policy like the one you describe as part of the accreditation process. Maybe that’s changed since then, as it was about 10 years ago.

    Generally speaking, a child can enter a 3-6 program without having done a toddler Montessori program. For example, many parents don’t send their child to school at all until preschool, so attending a toddler program is not a prerequisite.

    It is helpful to have a general rule that children entering elementary have been in a Montessori 3-6 program, as so much of elementary is based on materials and concepts that are presented in 3-6.

    As I said, every school is different but I don’t think it’s related to accreditation (assuming that’s what she meant by “certified”). Generally, the younger a child starts Montessori, the better, so it’s not contradictory to the Montessori method to want children to start as young as possible.

    Many Montessori schools accept older children who haven’t done Montessori and find that the parents are disappointed by the results. So that’s the reason for wanting children to have started Montessori as young as possible. If a child has been in a traditional school environment, it can be difficult for them to make the transition. It’s easier for some children than others.

    There’s a lot of individuality in it, it’s not an exact science, so many Montessori schools will have children spend a day or two in the classroom to see if it’s going to be a fit for the children, parents, and teachers.

  • Katarina said at March 15th, 2012 at 7:14 am :

    Hi,
    My daughter (3 ¾ year old) has been in Montessori school for 7 months already. I think she is not doing that well. She is still wondering around the classrooms and trying to find things to do and has problems with making friends. She used to be very confident, now she is shy and keeps to herself. Should I still keep her there and how can I help her integrate better?

  • Lori Bourne said at March 15th, 2012 at 9:25 am :

    Hi, Katarina! Those are questions that are hard to answer without actually observing. Sometimes it does take a long time for children to adjust to the classroom.

    I would schedule a conference with the teachers and ask their opinion. They should be observing her all day and can give you more info and suggestions.

  • Debbie said at April 19th, 2012 at 9:41 pm :

    Hi Lori, My child went to a private Montessori for 2 years of preschool. Then, K and 1st at a traditional school. We have homeschooled for 3 years . I am thinking about Montessori for 5th and 6th grade. In your opinion would this transition be a good one to make just for 2years or would there be enough time to be beneficial.

  • Lori Bourne said at April 19th, 2012 at 10:02 pm :

    Hi, Debbie! It would be very difficult for them to enter a Montessori classroom for 5-6th grade without having done 1-3. It also depends on the child – some of them fit right in (everything makes sense to them right away), others have a tough time adjusting.

    Talk to the teacher, see what their experience with this type of situation is, and then have your child spend a day or two in the classroom to see what they think about it.

  • Bonnie said at April 20th, 2012 at 6:19 pm :

    Hi, In reply to a question about accreditation, there is a difference when a school is accredited with AMI. It means the school has undergone a rigorous review and the AMI consultants are satisfied that the learning environments and staff are all within specific guidelines of training and preparedness.

    With respect to the question of whether a child needs to be in the Montessori environment since age 2 or 3, that could be the policy of the specific school, however, from experience (I am AMI Primary trained and work in an AMI school) I can attest that a 5-year old entering the environment for the first time will often have more difficulties working independently and having sustained concentration than a child who has been in Montessori since age 3 or earlier. The children I see who come to the Children’s House (ages 3-6) from Toddler are well on their way, very independent and self motivated. It really is worthwhile to look at Montessori as a long-term approach to a child’s education because development takes place over time.

  • Beth said at June 7th, 2012 at 12:39 pm :

    I was so excited that we were able to put our daughter in Montessori school at age 3. She has just finished her second year & I am starting to wonder if it is for her. She seems not internally motivated & claims its “boring.” The teacher says she is not really working very hard & inquired whether we let her watch a lot of TV (we do not). She acts babyish there, asks the teacher for help pulling up her pants & that kind of thing, with is something she generally doesn’t do at home, though of course she has her whiny meltdown moments like any 4 year old. Outside of school she is interested in exploring the world, is pretty independent, etc. I know part of it is social anxiety–she has friends & does fine w/ smaller groups of kids, but doesn’t enjoy being around larger groups of kids.

    How do I know if this is right for her? Or can I help make it better?

  • takela said at August 4th, 2012 at 3:51 pm :

    my 4 year old daughter has been at home with me since birth and she went to daycare for 5months in 2011,and will be starting a montessori preschool this year at age 4 and im wondering is this something for her and will she do well.i didnt have the money to start her at age 3 so thats why she is starting this year at age 4 …will she be able to adapt?im going to try it this year but if it doesnt work well then she will go to a traditional school for kindergarten next year..

  • Lori Bourne said at August 4th, 2012 at 4:00 pm :

    Hi, Takela! Four is a good age to start Montessori. There’s no way to know how she’ll do until she tries it, but keep the lines of communication open with her teacher, so if problems come up, you can handle them quickly.

  • Tiffanie said at October 2nd, 2012 at 9:59 am :

    My son is 7 and has been in Montessori since the age of 3. My child’s teacher tells me that my son “lacks of focus, easily distracted, very fatigued, and his work pace is very slow.” I am starting to wonder if Montessori is the right environment for him but I don’t know how to tell. I definitely need help and there seems to be a disconnect between his teacher and I. How can I tell if Montessori is no longer a good option for my child?

  • Lori Bourne said at October 2nd, 2012 at 1:20 pm :

    Hi, Tiffanie! I would explore some other options before coming to the conclusion that Montessori isn’t right for your son. Anything from food or environmental allergies to vision problems (needing glasses) could be responsible. Children often manifest other problems to look like attention problems.

    After taking your son to the doctor, sharing your concerns, and having a thorough examination, you’ll probably have more information and can meet with your son’s teacher about his future in Montessori.

  • Patti said at October 19th, 2012 at 9:07 am :

    Hello there,
    My husband are trying to decide if our daughter (2.5) will do well in a Montessori school. She has been in a traditional daycare but we are looking to make this switch shortly. The catch is she is 2.5 and the classroom typically starts at 2.9. We were told at her other school that she was advanced and was going to move up to the 3yr old room but I’m not sure if this would be the same transition into a Montessori preschool room.
    Any advice will help!

  • Lori Bourne said at October 19th, 2012 at 10:46 am :

    Hi! There’s no way to give you advice on what to do without observing your daughter and being familiar with the school your daughter might attend. It would be good, if you haven’t already, to meet with the teacher and the school director at the Montessori school and see what they think.

    If you do decide to put her in the school, stay in close contact with the teacher so that you can deal with any problems that might arise, just as I outline in the above post.

  • Rose said at October 19th, 2012 at 3:03 pm :

    We were very excited to put our son (3 years old) in a very good Montessori school. The philosophy of teaching sounded so right for us and for our son. We wanted him to be in a calm, friendly environment with nice kids, caring teacher and where he can learn many practical things instead of playing with plastic toys in a regular preschool.

    However, after 2 months being there I start to wonder if it is right for him. He goes there happily and excited, but every time I pick him up and ask his teacher how was his day, I always get the same answer “it was an OK day”, or more often “it was not too bad”. I am very tired of hearing this. Every afternoon is a big stress for me waiting to hear that it didn’t go so well.

    Few times she mentioned that he “walks around a lot to see what older kids are doing”, ‘does only some of his work”, “gets upset if he can’t put his shoes on”, etc. To me, these “concerns” are very normal for a 3 year old and not a big deal to even mention. I wouldn’t mind if he likes to socialize and watch other kids. I know that he is not grabbing their work or bothering them. She mention that some kids politely tell him to walk away and he doesn’t.

    At home he is very different of what teacher is describing. He loves working on projects independently or with me, concentrates well with activities he enjoys, doesn’t jump from one thing to another. So, I am not sure what is going… I am sure that when he is around other kids it is harder for him to concentrate and he also wants to be in a group activities. I don’t see anything wrong with this behavior…I shouldn’t be worried about “school” when he is only 3 years old and should just enjoy his environment, learn few new things here and there.

  • Lori Bourne said at October 19th, 2012 at 5:47 pm :

    Without being able to observe your son myself, I can only give you the same advice I give everyone:

    1) Observe your son at school for a morning (your son’s school should have an open-door policy but teachers do appreciate it if you can make an appointment ahead of time)

    2) Schedule a meeting with the teacher and the school director to discuss your concerns and observations

    Also please go back and re-read the section of the blog post called “What can you do if your child starts Montessori and seems to be struggling?” as I outline exactly what might be happening and what you can do about it.

  • Gigi said at November 14th, 2012 at 11:18 am :

    I’ve been researching Montessori Schools in my area to determine what is the best age to start my son. I found a local school that starts at age 1. My concern is will my son benefit from the Montessori methods at such a young age? I’m just concerned it could be a waste of money if the schools method is more like a traditional daycare. I’ve done some research and it looks like the recommended age to start is 3. What are your thoughs behind when a child should start and pros/cons starting at age 1.

  • Lori Bourne said at November 14th, 2012 at 11:31 am :

    Hi, Gigi! I do not think children need to start school at age 1. There’s so much learning to be done at home, and you can easily bring in Montessori ideas and materials yourself. At this age, the things the child learns by working alongside their parents (how to pour, stir, sweep, etc.) are the same things a Montessori school is doing.

    Check out this catalog/website for great ideas: For Small Hands. I also recommend the book Raising a Great Child the Montessori Way by Tim Seldin.

    Age 3-4 is plenty early for formal schooling.

  • Chris said at December 13th, 2012 at 4:25 am :

    Lori,
    I have a dilemma I’ve been losing sleep over. My son turned 6 in Sept. & is in a traditional kindergarten setting 4 months now (worksheets, computer lab, stuff I don’t like, not enough hands on, teacher very controlling). I want to pull him out. He was in a high-scope preschool curriculum in the past which is somewhat child-led to a degree, somewhat teacher led. (They had centers where they chose what they wanted to do). He has trouble w/ bilateral integration (avoids using his left hand), crossing midline, mildly weak posture & so he’s been in O.T. to help but they say he needs a structured environment bc he will avoid certain things he doesn’t like.

    BC I don’t like the way it’s been going (but he’s happy) in his class …very little hands on, almost no sensory, etc. Montessori obviously encompasses all of those things. I’m wondering if the switch would be difficult. Clearly, the ideal situation is beginning at 3y.o. but he’s 6 now. So I’m trying to determine whether or not moving him into a Montessori environment would be better for him. If he were to use all the materials, clearly it’s best for his brain development vs. worksheets & computer time. But I’m wondering if 6 is simply too late. Would he adjust. I know expecting quick results is unrealistic (& read the above note about starting late being difficult). I want him to like school, but want him to excel. I’ve already been told he’s “at risk” for difficulties in reading, writing math but shows no signs to the teachers right now. The OT say’s he’s a “hands on” “Tactile” learner which is why I’m trying to determine if Montessori may be the best bet. Any Advice? I so want to yank him out of this environement he’s in bc I don’t feel it’s what’s best for his brain development though he likes is socially. Thoughts?

  • Lori Bourne said at December 13th, 2012 at 9:39 am :

    Hi, Chris! I wouldn’t pull your son out of his school in the middle of the year; it’s stressful for the child and they never quite catch up to the other children at their new school since they missed the whole first half of the year.

    But, he could definitely benefit from you adding Montessori activities to your home. Check out the site For Small Hands for tons of great practical life materials and activities that are easy to do at home. These will help greatly with fine motor skills, hand/eye coordination, and other important skills.

    For next year, if you could find a Montessori school for 1st grade, I think that would be great for him. Just be sure you visit the school and talk with the teacher and the director about your concerns so that they know where he’s at and can give him the best experience.

  • Chris said at December 14th, 2012 at 8:13 am :

    Lori,
    Here are some of my concerns.
    1) The teacher talks to the children in a way I do not like. Example: “Why can’t you focus. It’s time to read. DO you want your recess…if so then start focusing or you get no recess…why are you guys focusing” during a reading group activity. Then, on another occasion, another child said something she says, “Why do you keep asking the same questions over & over. You always ask the same questions..”. Another child brought a work sheet to her and she replied “What is this? I cannot even tell what this is. Take it back & do it over. Bring it back when it’s done right.” This rigid way of doing things is bothersome. Now I here him telling my 4 y.o. “You always say the same t hing over & over”. Also, another child with delays…I have seen the teacher get short with. She seems to have little patience & I don’t like the example she is setting. That’s only 1 day of observation last Friday. I regret not having done a full day in the past or I never would have put him in there. Though he’s not complaining, I have to ask is it really good for him to be around this kind of instruction?

    A few other things: the class will have completed 150 sight words by years end that was very overwhelming for him. I managed to get them dropped for him but the other classmates are still doing that. Wondering if it’s good for his self esteem for them to be doing things that he isn’t. They push reading so heavily in the class. I managed to get him pulled out of the reading groups & sight words dropped. That’s when he started wanting to go to school again (the 1st 2 months he did not want to go bc he said it was too much work / too hard. She said she couldn’t understand that but he has dyspraxia & hypotonis (upperbody weakness) so writing 10 G’s for some kids might be easy but for him it takes alot more effort).
    His schedule is this: smartboard (big screen the class looks at) from 9-10, free play 10-11 (which would be good but he ends up sitting in front of the computer playing Lego Racer the entire time . I asked that he be timed but he’s standing around the computer watching someone else when he’s not sitting at it.), 11am-15 minutes of worksheets, then reading time. Centers that are TEACHER directed, not child from 1-2:45.
    There’s a sensory table that’s sat there & never been used once this year (I asked several of the kids while observing the other day). The stations include things like dinosaurs, reading books, car tower, doll house, etc. (I asked about playdough…only time it was use this year is once when I had my OT come, the 2nd time was the time that I came to visit the class room). So for a child needing heavy amount of bilateral integration work (work using 2 hands)..I just do not see him getting much of it. So even though he has friends there….it that really enough to keep him there. I’m concerned about all of these things. I know it’s stressful to pull him out mid year. But given some of these other concerns….I’m wondering if it’s worth keeping him in there. Thoughts? Thanks ahead of time for your honest opinion.

  • Lori Bourne said at December 14th, 2012 at 9:26 am :

    Hi, Chris! It definitely doesn’t sound like a great environment for your son. Only you can decide whether to supplement with Montessori materials at home or to put him in another school. You know your son best and have the opportunity to observe him at school. There are pluses and minuses on each side.

  • Kim said at December 24th, 2012 at 7:20 pm :

    When my daughter was 5 (she has a summer b-day) she attended a non-traditional student-centered private school that spent a lot of time in the outdoors hiking and playing. There was a lot of theatre, music and art. They spent time every day being still and quiet as well as started the day off with yoga or sitting in a group quietly sipping tea. It was a wonderful school but we worried that it lacked the basic academics so when she was 6 she entered our neighborhood public school for kindergarten. She had a wonderful kinder teacher and year. Now she is 7 in the first grade and I feel the public school is not a good fit for her. The amount of worksheets is overwhelming and she seems to not care for them. There is not attention to the social-emotional development of the students and if she has a problem with another student she is told she is being a tattle tale. She has learned to keep problems to herself and it may come out by her doing something like scribbling all over her paper. Also, I see the teacher using points and rewards to get the kids to do everything and the competition is stressful on my daughter and she gets very upset over it. The school is overly focused on technology and is now pushing all students to do an online reading program at home in addition to the time they spend doing it at school.
    She is such an inquisitive, active, social, and curious child. She is always playing and active when at home but she does not show much enthusiasm for anything she does at school.
    Everything I read about Montessori is what I have learned I want for my daughter in an education and we have a local Charter Montessori that will be a pre-school through 12th grade and I see this transition as long-term. I am worried about how she may do if I am able to get her enrolled for 2nd grade (8 years old). I am not sure if I should try to get her in now, the middle of the school year because of her age or if I can wait until the beginning of the following school year. If she is accepted to the school is it recommended that she spend a day at the school to see how she does or is it too difficult to determine whether or not she would adapt in just one day? Any thoughts you have would be helpful, especially concerning entering Montessori at age 8 for 2nd grade. Thank you.

  • Lori Bourne said at December 25th, 2012 at 12:51 pm :

    Hi, Kim! I do recommend she spend a whole day at the school first – it would be helpful for her to know what to expect and give her a chance to see if she’ll like it. Then, I recommend what I say in my post:

    You can’t know for sure how your child will do in Montessori until they try it. Even if you are doing your best to be the right kind of “Montessori parent”, things may not work out. Or your child may love it. So I recommend that parents become as informed as they can, and then try it! The vast majority of children love the Montessori method and thrive in Montessori.

  • Kerrian said at January 9th, 2013 at 9:35 am :

    Hello, I have a 5 year old son who has been moved from his Charter school December 9 and started his public school the 10th. He is now ina school closer to home and it seems he is still having some of the same issues pertaining to his body movement which is not allowing him to focus and learn so that he may retain any information being taught in class. I do noticed that in his Charter school, he was just adjusting in mid December and his first day was August 28. So I do agree with the above statement that it takes a child 1 to 3 months to adjust in any school environment.

    However, the teacher that he has now she feels that school is school and that he should already be adjusted. I do not know what it is doing to my son and how it affected him. i took him out of the charter school because their rules were very strict and teaching very vigorous for a 5 year old to me. I don;t know what to do. I did get my son evaluated and I was told he has to basically learn how to control his body. It seems that he has a lack of focus and gets bored easily. I know my son is smart but I am concerned about what he is learning. I do want my son to be successful in school but I don’t k now what I should do. This is my first time coming across this article in my research about Montessori schools. Please help me and let me know what do you think I should do. I was also told that my son works better in a small groups one on one. I am also concerned about moving him again to another school, seeing that this would be his third move. I just dont think that is healthy for him. He is already having some problems with making friends now.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

  • Robert Duran said at January 10th, 2013 at 7:55 pm :

    Hello Lori:

    I have a couple questions regarding my daughter’s education/recent teacher change in her public school. I don’t want to come off as challenging or negative in any of this but want more information and I am not sure exactly where to go.

    My daughter is currently in 6th grade and has always enjoyed school and truly just loves being challenged to learn. Half way through this school year, the teach has changed. The new teacher is a “Montessori” trained teacher. My daughter has come home in the past few weeks with new assignments. I expected things to be different but to me it seems like it’s just a bunch of busy work.

    One example is when she brought home her spelling words homework. My daughter needs to know what “tolerable stress” is as one of the “spelling words”. This isn’t something you can find in the dictionary so while at school, she looks it up on Google. (All the other students do this as well.) She then copies word for word as the definition. How is this beneficial in learning? The next step is to do a word train with all the spelling words in which all the words must come together on grid paper where the words overlap sharing letters – much like a crossword puzzle. She then has to color all the blank space on the paper. She then needs to draw a small picture for each of those spelling words. How in the world is she supposed to draw “tolerable stress” – she then has to color each of the small pictures as well. It seems to me like this is something designed to improve one’s own art skills instead of learning how to use and understand words.

    Is this “drawing and coloring” task something that is actually geared towards a 6th grade education because in my mind it sounds more fitting to headstart or kindergarten. Because this is my daughter’s and my first experience with a montessori style education I don’t know what to expect and am already frustrated. From speaking with my daughter, I asked if she feels like she has learned anything new since this change in teachers/teaching style and her response was a quick, “No.”

    Please help. Thanks in advance.

    Rob

  • Lori Bourne said at January 10th, 2013 at 8:01 pm :

    Hi, Rob! The activities you are describing have absolutely nothing to do with Montessori, and I am sorry to hear that someone is trying to pass them off as “Montessori” activities. A child in 6th grade in a real Montessori school would be engaged in research, writing, reading real books, creating their own spelling lists, nature journaling, and other real life learning activities. It sounds like you need to meet with the teacher and/or principal to discuss your concerns.

  • diane said at January 24th, 2013 at 9:37 pm :

    Hi,

    I have been thinking about Montessori for my son. My 7 year old son is lazy – like a bunch children. He is also what is termed a “highly sensitive” child – not a “special needs” child (infancy was horrid!).

    We have gone round and round with his teacher. He does read the readers they send home, but are they boring! So after we read that, I quite often get hime to read Diary of a Wimpy Kid – We are just now finishing next to the last book in the series. I am certain they are for kids several years older than he it. His reading is great. His teacher complains about his comprehension; however, I ask him all sorts of questions after we read and he nails it.

    Would Montessori work for him? My neighbor swears by it, but I am concerned. I know that her kids and my cousin’s kids seem to really lack self discipline and go crazy in public. My neice loved montessori, but she is now a teenager has not been able to successfully integrate into high school.

    What does one do?

  • Lori Bourne said at January 24th, 2013 at 10:40 pm :

    Hi, Diane! Please read the post, especially point #1 at the beginning in italics. There’s no way for me to predict how any child will do in Montessori, especially since I can’t observe your son or the school that he would attend. Research the school carefully and meet with the teachers to talk about your concerns. I do not think that the behavior you’re describing for Montessori kids is typical or the result of Montessori. My guess it is has to do with the children and the parenting.

  • Jason S said at January 25th, 2013 at 8:12 am :

    My 4 year old son has been attending a very highly regarded Montessori school for a year and a half. When talking to his teacher she says he is doing great, seems happy and engaged in the work he is doing. He also seems to be developing pretty well as he progresses through the lessons in the classroom. Our problem is for the last year he throws a fit about going to school and claims he doesn’t like going to school. This is literally an EVERY DAY thing. Montessori is supposed to teach kids to love learning and we are afraid this experience is actually pushing our son the other way.

    While watching him in the classroom he seems engaged and not unhappy but with how often he says he doesn’t like school and doesn’t want to go we are concerned. We are considering moving him to a traditional Pre-K program next year. Any advice?

  • Lori Bourne said at January 25th, 2013 at 8:24 am :

    Hi, Jason! My advice to you is the same that I give in this post and to all parents whose kids are having problems in school – please schedule a meeting with the teacher(s) and head of school to discuss your concerns. Don’t just ask them how he is doing, tell them what your son is saying and ask them if there is anything (the other children, etc.) that might be causing him to dread school.

    I would also talk to your son about it. Perhaps he can share with you why he feels this way. It could be because he does not want to be apart from you, so it has nothing to do with the school itself. If you are confident that the problem is not with the school, I wouldn’t move him to another school. This might just be a phase he is going through.

    It is not uncommon for kids to resist going to school and then love it once they are actually there. However I would look very carefully for reasons, even something stressful on the home front (a recent move, death of a relative) that could be making him feel stressed which is translating to this behavior.

    I would also work with your son on this – he’s definitely old enough. Tell him that his behavior before school is very stressful and it’s time for it to stop. Talk to him about other things he can do when he is stressed on the way to school (take a deep breath, count cars, etc.) Play a fun game in the car on the way (I Spy, play a book-on-CD). Enlist the help of the teachers, so one of them can be ready with a fun activity (practical life) right when he arrives. Work on this issue together with your son and his teachers rather than just changing schools.

  • spjaar said at March 11th, 2013 at 10:20 pm :

    Hello Lori,
    My 8 yr old is going to Montessori from past more than 4 yrs. He was moved to 1st grade at the end of first semister of KG, now he is in 3rd grade. Since then it was kind of ok, he never showed great results. Lately from past couple of months we have been hearing from his teachers that he is not functional in the class room. The teacher doubts about his focus, if there is some issue with his ear-brain connection(signals) or she also doubts if montessori program is not working for him as he is not independent. We are very surprised to hear this after spending in the school for 4.5 yrs. My son plays chess and he performs very well in Chess. We are unable to understand if the program really not working or is it something to do with he moving from KG to 1st grade classroom in the middle of the year. This time of the year is too late for us to get started on traditional schools as we always planned to keep him in the school for atleast another 2 years until middle school.
    We have our younger one started as toddler in the same school and now moved to PREK in last summer. As of now we don’t see any major issues with our 2nd son, except that he don’t choose his work that was in the begining. He is getting better though.
    With our older one we are really confused what to do, sending the 2 kids to 2 different schools is a challenge with commute as both of us working.
    Please advice how to proceed, does it really take this long to identify that Montessori program don’t work or do you think we should look at this from a different prospective. Teacher says he is ok academically and will surely be on top if he moved to a traditional school. Its just that he is not independent and Montessori kids by now should show their independence which he is not and much dependent on teachers.

    I appreciate your advice.
    Thank you

  • Lori Bourne said at March 11th, 2013 at 10:55 pm :

    Hi! This sounds like a difficult situation but I really can’t give advice without being able to observe the school firsthand. I know I sound like a broken record, but please schedule a conference with the teacher(s) to address your concerns, and the school director too if you feel it is warranted.

    I would also take him to a medical doctor to rule out any health issues that might be contributing to the problem.

  • spjaar said at March 11th, 2013 at 11:25 pm :

    We had a conference with teacher this morning and she brought the topic of looking at alternate traditional school :-( She might be helping us to put us in right direction. But we are disappointed that all that he has done in Montessori till now is gone waste?

  • Lori Bourne said at March 12th, 2013 at 8:09 am :

    It’s true that Montessori isn’t a perfect fit for every child. So it’s okay if it didn’t work out for your son. I’m sure he learned a lot and developed many character qualities that will be helpful to him as he gets older.

  • spjaar said at March 12th, 2013 at 8:01 pm :

    Lori,
    I agree with you, he has a character built from MA program and I am proud of it. Teacher sent me an update today saying after discussing this with management they wanted to know if we are willing to keep the child in the 3rd grade again for another year for him to develop independence. I am surprised why the teachers couldn’t make out about my son in the beginning of 3rd grade at least. How do they think it will work out in this year if it did not work in past 4 yrs. My son love Montessori and may not like to come out of the school to another school. At the same time I don’t think he would be ready to accept that he will be left in 3rd grade with all his friends moving up to 4th, he would feel very discouraged if that happens so. I am really confused, please advice.

  • Lori Bourne said at March 12th, 2013 at 9:15 pm :

    You are in a difficult situation but I cannot tell you what to do. You should talk to your son to see what he feels. He is definitely old enough to give his own opinion.

  • Melissa said at April 12th, 2013 at 9:18 pm :

    Hi Lori,
    The site is great…thank you! My question relates to the amount of time a 3 year old should spend in school. At 2.5 my son started at a wonderful Montessori school 2 mornings a week (he had been at home with us/a nanny before that). I would like him to continue at this or another similar school in the fall when he is 3 and I really was hoping to have him go 3 days a week. I have found, however, that most of the Montessori schools have only a 5-day program at age 3. I am torn, because while I feel strongly that Montessori is right for him I also feel that going to school 5 days a week (even just mornings) is a lot at that age. I work part time and use some of his mornings off to go to classes and do special things together…it’s really important to me (and, I think, to him) to carve out that special time with him, and we will never get this time back…things will only get more complicated! It’s also nice to have a few days when we’re not rushing around to get out the door for school…again, he’s only 3 and will have years and years of doing that in the near future…sometimes it’s nice to have relaxed, unstructured time without the pressure of having to be somewhere. So my question really is about the philosophy behind the 5-day requirement and whether the entire educational process can be expected to fail if at age 3 he doesn’t have the consistency of 5 school days in a row (note that he currently attends school on Thursday and Friday mornings only and does just fine). I have found no alternatives that satisfy me and am considering signing him up but only sending him 3 or 4 days (and worrying that the school would be very upset with me for it). Again, the concern is not that he won’t be able to handle it, it’s that I also value time with my son and think that it’s equally important for him to have special mommy time…particularly with a new baby arriving just in time for the school year! Sorry for the long post, and thanks!

  • Lori Bourne said at April 12th, 2013 at 10:36 pm :

    Hi! There’s no one answer to your question. Yes, a 3-year-old doesn’t have to be in preschool 5 mornings a week, but Montessori schools do have a good reason for that policy. Montessori is different from traditional preschools, and the children generally do better if they are there more often because of the presentations they receive, etc. However of course you do want plenty of time with your son. I would either keep him home with you full time or enroll him full time – keeping him home one or two days would be confusing to the staff and cost you a lot of extra money. Either way, with such a caring and attentive mom, your son will be fine. That’s the most important part of it.

  • Sarah said at April 22nd, 2013 at 9:30 am :

    Is it too late to make the change from a private school to Montessori in 3rd grade?

  • Lori Bourne said at April 22nd, 2013 at 9:46 am :

    Hi, Sarah! As I talk about in my post, there’s no one answer to that question because it depends on the school, the teachers, the child, and the parents. Please read through all the factors that I mention and take those into account when making your decision.

    Also please read this post from NAMC that I link to at the end of my post: Is It Too Late for My Child to Attend Montessori School? Again, it can’t give you a definitive answer but it will highlight the factors that you need to take into account.

  • Jenny said at June 4th, 2013 at 7:49 am :

    Hi! I have a daughter who has started her Montessori school since age 2 (she is now 5). The thing about Montessori, I think is, not ALL children can be fitted into it, and also it really has to have the right teacher.
    My DD is a very strong willed little girl. She doesn’t like Math. And she seems to struggle despite the concrete concept from Montessori materials. She always negotitate with her teacher to not assign her to work in Math areas. She only get to work with Math material for once in a week.it is apparent that she is left behind from her peers.
    I have talked about this problem repeatedly with the teacher and also the school principal. But they can only blame my daughter for not hanging around the right peer (huh?), since they said that my kid enjoy working so much with younger children that she is not interestedto take an age proper materials.
    I am thinking to move her out from the school. True that she shows her language skills ahead from her peers. But also her Math skill is really lacking that I am worry she might not be able to catch up by the time she has to move to elementary school.

  • Lori Bourne said at June 4th, 2013 at 8:09 am :

    Hi, Jenny! It’s true, I don’t think the school should be blaming your daughter for this. The teacher is supposed to be the link between the child and the materials.

    That said, at 5, they are still free to choose work on their own and it’s okay if she doesn’t do a ton of math. You could do some math activities with her at home to supplement. If she’s otherwise happy and thriving, I wouldn’t take her out of the school just for that.

  • Jenny said at June 9th, 2013 at 8:21 am :

    Hi Lori! Thanks for your response. Yes, I do try to supplement her at home with math. Sometimes I ask her to play math games, by pretending I am a customer in her shop, and she is the cashier, so she has to count all my purchase and do very simple addition. She will eagerly do it until two rounds, and then because she is not interested in calculating anything, she will ask me to be the cashier instead (haha).
    And actually it’s not only about Math that I concern with. She has complained to me several times that she is really bored at school to the point where she refused to go to school. I told her that it should not be possible since there are tons of materials that she can master. But she simply shrugs it off and say, the materials all look the same to her. It gave me an alarm that maybe the teacher was not directing her effectively.
    Oh yes, when I tried to speak to the school principal about her problems in Math, she only recommend us to take an after school class (which means more income for the school). That’s when I thought this is pure business for the school management. This is when I think this is the time for my DD to move to other school.
    I am very sad actually to move her from her current school. I am a die hard fan of Montssori principles. I thought it was the best possible way to teach children. And yet I have to admit that maybe this Montessori school is not the right one. The other Montessori schools are either too far from home or too expensive, so it is not an option to move to other Montessori school. But I guess at leaset she has her 3 years of experiencing Montessori. I hope it will be enough for her.

  • Nazanin said at June 21st, 2013 at 2:48 pm :

    Hi Lori,

    We have a 4 years old son who’s autistic. currently he’s going to a regular preschool with his aid. it looks like the busy and loud environment of his preschool bothers him. his aid says, he’s covering his ears, most of the time! we recently have visited a Montessori preschool, it looks much more quiet and kids look more mellow and calm. we are in the middle of negotiating with them about our needs for our son there. I would appreciate your opinion about it.

  • Lori Bourne said at June 22nd, 2013 at 5:57 pm :

    Hi, Nazanin! Montessori is a wonderful environment for almost any child. As I state at the beginning of my post, I cannot give specific advice because I have not observed your son or the school you are considering.

    Please use this post to evaluate the school you’re considering: Top Ten Things to Look for in a Montessori School (also look at the comments on that post as there are some good additions by blog readers).

    Then, be sure to read through this post in its entirety: Montessori and the Special Needs Child.

    Thanks!

  • Siri said at June 25th, 2013 at 8:03 pm :

    Hello! I’ve been battling this question for a while and just found this forum. I’m hoping someone will be able to help me with a response. I decided to switch my 5 year old son’s school recently from a Christian school to a Montessori school. I was concerned that the school he attended only focused on Math and English and not other areas the Montessori school focused on. He had attended Montessori in the past from 16 months till 3. I changed jobs and unfortunately, the location was not condusive and we had to switch his schools. I however changed jobs again, and in addition, his baby brother came along. I did not want to drop both kids at two seperate locations, so I moved My 5 and a half year old and my 3 year old sons back to the Montessori school. My 5 and a half year old is now the oldest in his class and he simply can’t understand why he’s in thesame class with the babies. Given the two year gap he was away, he really does not remember the Montessori system. My concern is whether or not he’ll actually be ready for 1st grade by the end of the year given the fact that he’s actually the oldest in his class? He tells me the jobs are boring, as he’s obviously not used to this method of learning. Given that it’s summer, I still have time to move him back to his district school for regular Kindergarten. Thoughts on whether or not to keep him at the Montessori school given that he’s the oldest in his class would be sincerely appreciated. PS: All his former classmates who were in the same class with him before he left the school have all left to begin Kindergarten at their local schools or other private schools, hence more of my confusion. The Montessori schools program goes from 18 months – 6 years old though.

    Thanks,

  • Lori Bourne said at June 25th, 2013 at 9:23 pm :

    Hi, Siri! Any quality Montessori school should be able to keep a child busy and challenged in the 3-6 class all the way through 6 years of age. I find that frequently the parents’ issues are with the school, not the Montessori method itself.

    I know I sound like a broken record, but you need to talk with the teachers/director and share your concerns. Find out just how much they care about your son’s welfare and involving him in the class and preparing him for 1st grade. Not all Montessori schools are good schools, unfortunately.

  • Lorena said at September 27th, 2013 at 3:52 am :

    Hello! I have a situation regarding my son’s new montessori. He started the primary 3-6 years old class three weeks ago. He turned three the week after classes started. I did not hear anything from the lead teacher until she call me in for a conference with her and the director. They said that after three weeks they felt that since my son has never been to a preschool or montessori before then he should go to the toddler class (18 months to 36 months) so he gets to learn the materials offered in montessori. When I went to see the toddler class I got upset because the average age is 2 years 3 months and their schedule as far as eating lunch and nap time is not similar to my sons (they do everything much earlier) Also, at that level they don’t offer the classes he like which are music, gym, library time, etc.
    I don’t know what to do. It seems absurd that they make this determination based on three weeks of classes, and if he does not know how to behave and handle materials that is what the guide is there for.
    I don’t want to take a step back in my child’s development by putting him in a lower class. Thanks!

  • Lori Bourne said at September 27th, 2013 at 5:40 am :

    Hi, Lorena! I do find this situation puzzling, as most children who enter the 3-6 environment have not been in a toddler program and need to be introduced to the materials from the beginning. So, maybe there is more to it than that? I would sit down with the teachers and school director and share all of your concerns just as you’ve outlined here. See what they say and go from there.

  • Lorena said at September 27th, 2013 at 9:32 am :

    Hi Lori, thank you for your prompt response. They agree that it was premature for them to make that determination since he just started. We will try this Monday in a primary class with a different teacher and see how he adapts. I am sure he will do fine as in this new class there are more children that are on the older side and he should imitate that. I will let you know how it goes, in the mean time I will try to apply toys and methods at home where he can start to relate.
    Thanks!

  • Eurianya said at September 29th, 2013 at 11:00 pm :

    Hey.
    I found out about Montessori last year as I was expressing my concerns with my daughters AWESOME 1st grade teacher about my then 5th grade son, need less to say I looked into and am sooo glad I did. However now that my son will be starting Montessori School next week(hopefully) and he’s been in public school from k-6 I’m a little concerned how well he will do. We took the tour, he spent a half day in the classroom, got the scholarship and everything was set to go. Then after they reviewed the teach recommendations from his 5th grade teacher (with said he’s very smart jist lacks organization and self motivation) I got a call saying they want him to spend a full day just to see how he does. I know that montessori is the perfect (as perfect as you can get in an imperfect world) fit for him but I am a tiny bit worried. Have you had or know of children starting Montessori at 11yrs old and doing well?

  • Lori Bourne said at September 30th, 2013 at 7:05 am :

    Hi! In my experience it generally does not work out for a child that age starting Montessori for the first time. Not just because of the materials, although they have missed hundreds of presentations that are built upon each year which puts them way behind the other kids, but because of the difference in mentality compared to traditional (public) education.

    They almost have to be “deprogrammed” from the grade/test/competition mentality and it can take a very long time. However, it does depend on the child and the teacher, and every situation is different.

    Please read this post that I linked to at the end of my post, as it’s very helpful: Is It Too Late for My Child to Attend Montessori School?

  • Karen said at October 6th, 2013 at 9:38 pm :

    Hi! I am returning to work next September and my son will be 2.5 years old. I have looked into traditional toddler day care settings but have found a Montessori preschool that I am particularly fond of. Typically the school accepts students at 2.9 but the director seems to think my child may be ready and will meet with us next august to evaluate him. My son would have to attend five mornings a week from 8-12:45 or so. If he is deemed ready by the director do you agree that this is an appropriate setting for a child his age? It’s hard to know what he will be like in a year but I have to select a child care option now! Currently he is a very bright and fun child who does not have any problems with separate anxiety and we actually call him the “worker” because he enjoys projects and honestly cleaning and copying everything we do around the house!

  • Lori Bourne said at October 7th, 2013 at 7:07 am :

    Hi, Karen! It’s not unheard of for a child that age to enter a 3-6 environment. However, if you look through the comments here, you’ll see that I typically do not give specific advice as every situation is different and I can’t observe your son or the setting. You know him best, so you’ll need to work with the teacher(s) and school director to observe him in the classroom and talk through your concerns. Best of luck!

  • Jessica said at October 7th, 2013 at 9:35 pm :

    I was initially SO EXCITED when my child got into a FREE Montessori Magnet School. She started just shy of two weeks ago and it has been a VERY rough transition. The very first day, she had several bruise finger imprints on her arm. My daughter (who is very well behaved at home) said her teacher squeezed her arm really hard because she wasn’t being a good listener and that she put her (basically) in a time out for three minutes. My daughter isn’t put into time out at home and has never been in child care prior to this school. I showed it to the principal and the principal had the teacher come down and speak with us. The teacher conceded that she did have to speak with her and remove her from a group activity but you know, she isn’t going to say she ACTUALLY put her hands on my child… I believe my child. Since then, the teacher has given me attitude and been just weird. Not to mention that she is mostly unavailable, since I pick up half day and the teacher has to stay for their full-day program. I get NO information about her progress, what she has done or eaten that day, nothing! It frankly is making me very angry!

    She was initially very excited to be going to school, but now she has drag out fights and freaks out when it’s drop off time. I am not allowed to walk her top her classroom, of course. I feel like I am sending her in with some awful teacher! They won’t let me go observe her because they think it would be “disruptive to her adjustment period”. I am about to make some “adjustments to them… period!” I don’t want to bring her back, but I cannot afford to put her into ANY program at the moment and she NEEDS to have socialization and preschool. I am very upset and concerned. I feel like because I have been so open about my concerns that I have been labeled a “problem parent”. I also get the impression that they do not like my attachment parenting approach. I listen and nurture and respect my child and my instincts are screaming that this is not good for my child. I want her to be independent, but she NEVER had separation anxiety until she started there. I am supposed to have conferences on Wed (which I wanted my husband to go to, but they only notified us three days ago and he cannot take time off from work- and they only offer one day). I desperately need some advice about what I should reasonably expect. Thanks in advance.

  • Lori Bourne said at October 7th, 2013 at 9:53 pm :

    Hi, Jessica! Sadly, you have discovered what many parents do – just because a program calls itself “Montessori” does not mean that it is. I cannot give you any idea of what to expect in your conference because I have never heard of a Montessori school being run in this manner. Montessori schools run in a true Montessori fashion emphasize respecting the child and treating them kindly. Clearly that is not happening at this school.

    What I can tell you is that if you have any concerns about your child’s safety, that takes precedence over any kind of socialization or academics that she might need. Also your child cannot thrive in a school if she or you (or both) are not comfortable in it. So you need to make your decision based on that, not whether or not your daughter needs preschool.

  • Jessica said at October 8th, 2013 at 6:15 am :

    I’m not sure if I should just switch teachers? The teacher won’t let her have anything from home either and while I understand the montessori approach about toys and a prepared classroom, she’s a young child who feels dumped into a strange world. She wanted to bring a little stuffed dog and she was told no- it was her very first day! I had prepared her for the past six months and mistakenly read a book about what to expect at preschool and it mentioned being allowed to share special thugs from home with your friends (such as show and tell). She’s only been there a little over a week and she is feeing increasingly upset. Also, this school is on track to be AMI certified by next year (The sister school is already certified and the principal from that school moved to this one once the cert was complete). The principal is great but this teacher (she’s been doing this for 30 years) seems to be a problem.

  • Lori Bourne said at October 8th, 2013 at 7:19 am :

    Hi, Jessica! Some of the things you’ve mentioned (not bringing a toy to school, no show and tell, no information from the teachers about progress, eating habits, etc) is pretty typical of Montessori. There are reasons behind it, but the bottom line is that the teachers should still be kind and respectful to the child.

    Some parents are bothered by these practices but they should ALWAYS be able to observe – I would run from a school that doesn’t have an open door policy. Every Montessori school I’ve ever worked at had two-way mirrors so the parents could observe without being in the room and disturbing the children. I do agree it’s too early in the year for a parent to be in the classroom observing – it’s definitely distracting.

    The reason that parents are okay with most of these practices is because they see the quality of the environment and how much their child loves it. So, they don’t worry about getting daily reports. The teacher should be working to introduce beginning Montessori materials to the newer children so that they have something they can be doing right away that they enjoy and look forward to, so they don’t need toys from home, etc.

    The thing that concerns me most isn’t the strictness of the school’s policies (except for “no observations” – that’s not right) – it’s the possibility of physical abuse. If you do keep your daughter there, she should definitely not be in that teacher’s classroom but the school board needs to know what that teacher did. If it happened to your daughter it could happen to someone else.

    Also, if you do keep her there but she switches classrooms, I suggest adjusting your expectations. As long as your daughter is treated respectfully, I would have a cheerful attitude and not complain about things like bringing toys to school, not getting daily reports, etc. Your daughter is definitely going to pick up on your own feelings towards the school and reflect them. Again, even with the strictness of these policies, most children thrive in Montessori if it is done correctly, and things like daily reports and toys from home aren’t necessary for the parent or the child.

    There is definitely a “hump” for some parents and some kids in adjusting to a Montessori environment. Usually after the first month or so it’s much easier. But physical abuse should never be tolerated.