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It often depends on the Montessori school, since they are run somewhat independently. The one by me growing up was very unstructured, and this is common. Students choose what they want to do and have a lot of control over when and what they study. This works very well for some kids, and it's argued that gifted children in particular benefit from being able to work at an accelerated pace and more creatively. For other students, including a good friend of mine who went there through 5th grade, it was not at all effective. She was of average intelligence, not particularly self motivated, and came into public schools in 6th grade with a somewhat poor background and difficulty following instruction and keeping attention.

I'd seriously recommend talking to them in depth about how they work with the kids, what a day to day routine is, and get a lot of detail so you can decide if it will work well for both Kate and Adam. My initial instinct from my own experiences is that it may not be the best option for them with the needs you've described, but as I said, it really depends on the individual school

Here in the US, Montessori is like a brand name, but it's more like a franchise like Dairy Queen where the owners buy the name and can do whatever they like to it compared to say McDonald's that mandates all the stores function more or less the same (can you tell it's lunchtime and I'm hungry?) That just means you need to talk to the school to learn more about it as they can vary widely depending on who is running it.

The big thing in education in the US now seems to be the Waldorf School model which is less structured and they claim more nurturing. It can be expensive so we have family that moved to a remote part of California in order to go to a charter Waldorf school. Another friend in Baltimore (which has pretty bad public schools) has three kids in private school and swears her experience with Waldorf has been way better than any of her other experiences.

I don't know much about Montessori schools except that I know a family with three kids who have gone (I think all their lives) and the kids are the most polite, well-adjusted, reasonable kids I have ever met. I am VERY impressed with them, but I know it's probably a combo of many things and not just the school. In their case Montessori seems to fit perfectly.

I agree with the PP that it really depends on the individual school.

My son's Montessori is really great and I recommend it totally. It's small and only does toddler and Casa (ages 3-6).

The Montessori approach isn't about what you eat even if some of the schools are pretty granola (ours is at school and does not care much what you do at home). It is however about a lot of individual work and very concrete activities. For each activity the teacher, or a senior student, 'presents' the activity (shows the child how to do it).

Once the child's been shown how to do it, he or she can choose that activity whenever he or she wants. The activities range from math and language to social studies and what they call "practical life" (housework type stuff that builds up fine motor skills).

Having taught special ed and having worked with kids of different learning styles, I know that no one approach is for everyone.

That said, the Montessori material is some of the best I have ever seen. It's nice stuff to hold and play with; very appealing for the kids, and fun. The teachers are really well aware that kids can't, for example, write easily until they have the fine motor control, so they have a lot of activities to develop that rather than just plunking them down with a pen - tweezer activities, threading beads, etc.

I find Montessori also has a lot of intelligence in building up not just skills like counting or letter sounds but real understanding about math concepts, language concepts, etc. So if learning is something that concerns you (which it may or may not at your kids' age), there's good stuff in a Montessori classroom.

However as the PP said, it is child-directed. The teachers do track what each child is doing and if say a child never picks a math activity the teacher might sit down and see if she can entice the child into it. But mostly it is follow the child's bliss.

So yes, it can be that in a given year someone's kid won't cover everything that they would more traditionally. Our school is pretty good at the enticing part, but my son did spend last year blasting through the math and ignoring the letters. (Not that I cared! He's only 3 now!)

I personally liked this approach for my son because he has a lot of natural curiosity to engage with things. I didn't want a programme where everyone had to do the same thing all together all the time or where he was going to be pushed to read before he was interested.

Montessori is also generally very peaceful and quiet - there is no emphasis on "getting the kids going" (although they do definitely have outdoor/running playtime and soccer and stuff). There is a lot of emphasis on the kids having time to learn concentration. That was important to me too - I kind of hate the "rah rah rah, rush rush rush" days where it's always! sparkly! happy! That's a personal thing.

They actually teach "grace and courtesy" and I have to say that honestly? It's one of my favourite things. My son comes home with great manners and I get the credit. :)

Critics of Montessori tend to be concerned about the lack of "fantasy play." (In the early years.) My own experience with my son is that although he has an active imagination, he still really gravitates towards "doing what mummy and daddy do" and that's what the practical life stuff is and he loves it. His school does have some toys that are more traditional (lego, dress up, etc.) that come out for the two after-school hours.

But, I think it's fair as a criticism goes. Our house has fairies, so in the context of my son's life, it's just not an issue to me right now.

Another criticism is that it is too demanding/robotic in that kids are pretty much expected to use the materials the way they were intended.

This is what I found varied a lot from school to school. At my son's school, as long as the child is not throwing the materials around or disturbing others, they might show him the "right" way again from time to time but generally let it go. I myself think the kids get a lot of self-esteem out of there being a right way and getting it right, but I am glad my school has a pretty mild approach on the days the kids just don't feel like doing the steps a-b-c.

If you are touring Montessoris I think this is a really good question to ask.

P.S. because the older kids get to be guides for the younger kids I think Kate might really get into it. :) For Adam the quiet and routine might help, but I think here is where you need to be careful about the particular school.

One thing they'll probably tell you is that the three-year cycle is really important. I think that's true in that the third year is the 'payoff year' for the kids to really feel their own mastery. But I don't think it's a cult where you have to stay or else.

I could go on, so post or email if you have more specific questions after you've seen the school!

My kids go to a montessori school that's been around for 40 years - I love it, they love it...it's wonderful.

Our school is accredited by the AMI, International Montessori Association. http://www.montessori-ami.org/

I'd ask the schools you look at how they are accredited, if the teachers are required to be certified by a Montessori organization or not, how closely they follow Maria Montessori's teachings...and also, read about it - read Maria's writings, and also this is a good website http://www.montessori-science.org/.

Here, at least, the program seems to work best when the parents understand the process and believe in it - so I'd make sure it's the right fit for you first.

I think Montessori Schools are great! They are very child-centered, child-led, etc. I think that both Adam and Kate would do well in this setting. Younger children are guided by older children, which I feel would be a very big plus for both Adam and Kate. I think Kate would enjoy working with older kids and feeling like more of a "big girl" and I think being around older children might bring Adam out of his shell a bit. I also think that the three year cycle might be good for Adam because of less changes, getting to know the teacher better, etc.

Hi there,

The key thing that others have mentioned is that Montessori's are really all different. In general it applies to a style of learning - learn at your own pace; child led; etc. - but the way in which that is implemented depends on the school. My daughter (who is not quite two) is in a Montessori, and I am loving it for her (though I likely will move her to public school for Kindergarten - we are in Canada). The thing I like is the things others have mentioned - they are sort of free to follow what they'd like to do but there is a "point" to what they are doing.

As I said, my daughter Anika is not yet two so it's not like I'm looking for her to do advanced calculus or anything - pretty much if she seems to be having a good time through the day then I'm fine with that. But the things she's picked up are courtesy things; for example, she pushes her chair in whenever she gets down from the table, her manners are good, she'll carry her lunch bag to the kitchen for me, she knows to put her boots on the mat and her coat in the closet (usually on the floor of the closet, but you know, she tries).

I don't know a lot about the education system in SA, so it's hard to really comment on whether this kind of environment would be better for your kids or not. Based on my experience I'd say that I think that a Montessori would be a lot more gentle and accommodating to a child that was more on the sensitive side, but again I'm comparing that to the public school system in Canada so it's maybe not the same for you? Overall I'd agree with Shandra - tour the montessori and ask a lot of questions; see what kind of vibe you get. Questions I asked were about how they handle discipline, how they reward/encourage positive behaviour; what their strategy is for letting us know about anything they are concerned about; etc. Best wishes; you'll make a great decision.

Our son attended Montessori school for 3 yrs. (ages 2.5-5), and he/we loved it. Daughter (age 2.5) will be starting there soon. Commenter Shandra gives a really good description of how real Montessori schools work.

Beware the fake Montessori school. Because the name is not trademarked, anyone can use it. Hence a lot of facilities with "Montessori" in their names are just glorified daycare centers, or are very watered-down versions of the Montessori "way." Good advice from commenter Sinda on investigating the teachers' credentials, visiting the school, and learning about Montessori on your own.

Son attends public kindergarten now, even though our beloved school does offer the elementary grades. The only reason we switched him is b/c we can't afford Montessori tuition for 2 kids. On the bright side: he is thriving in kindy. He was very well prepared skill- and knowledge-wise; and he adjusted to the different way of doing things just fine.

Quick comment -- gotta get back to work.

Daughter went to Montessori pre-school 1.5 years. Went to a "very well-respected kindergarden." She was way ahead of the children in her class who had attended the "very well-respected" school's pre-school program.

So for my child, Montessori worked wonders and gave her an excellent head-start for the rest of her education career. (Now 27 years old and a college graduate.)

I could go into many details (like in first grade she was 'introduced' to a reading program that she had already finished in preschool -- again, a very good private school -- imagine how bored she would have been in public school!)

Both my husband and I grew up in Montessori schools, and I think it made us the creative, curious people that we are. We both see learning as something we do every day - not just inside a school. I think if your kids are bright and into learning, they'd do very well in a montessori school.

Hi Tertia.

I know quite a bit on the matter. I was raised in Rome, Italy, where Maria Montessori started her school, and I went to a wonderful Montessori school until I was 11 years old. I loved it. I was a very independent child, very bossy, and on my first day of school, at age 2, after I looked at my classroom, I told my mom :'you go, I stay'. My Julia is not at all like this, and it looks Adam is not either, so you have to be careful.

First of all, living in the United States and with a preschooler, I found out that Montessori schools in different countries are VERY DIFFERENT. I will describe how I found them different below, but basically I think you really need to find out by asking the right questions what Montessori is like in SA. You have to learn the language of local schools and understand what they mean really.

Second, there are a ton of schools who claim to be Montessori, but only a few actually are, and they have an AMI ( International Montessori Association) certification. I would not trust a school who claims to be Montessori and does not have AMI, because they are just exploiting the Montessori reputation to get enrollments. Usually there is a reason for this, so beware.

In Italy, Montessori schools are very relaxed, everything is play and rules are gently bent to accomodate the child's needs. Everything is on a child's scale, and of course the teaching method and materials are the ones Maria Montessori devised. In the US, Montessori schools are regarded as 'structured', i.e., a bit more rules than other places. So in Italy Montessori schools are more similar to schools that in the US are called 'developmental', rather than 'structured'. You would need to get a sense for this in your country. From reading your blog, I would describe the way you raise your kids as more developmental than structure, but I may be mistaken.

Stupidly assuming that Montessori is the same everywhere, I started Julia on a Montessori preschool in the States, and it was a disaster. She is sensitive,purposely spoilt, needs a lot of affection and has trouble separating from me. In addition, she does not like to follow strict rules, so if you make a point of having a fight for every little rule like folding a napkin, you will have her fighting you all day. Now she goes to a preschool with a slightly more 'developmental' curriculum, i.e., children do things when they are ready to do them. Rules are still there, but not for every little detail,just for important stuff, and teachers improvise quite a bit to fit to the needs of the children. She is very happy to go.

The third thing is that in every Montessori school I have seen (mine in Italy, the ones in the US) there is a bit more individual play rather than group play, i.e., the children do their 'exercises' alone. You have to see how much this is true for SA, and see if this would fit your children's character, especially Adam's. From what you describe, Kate would probably be at ease everywhere.

You can email me if you have questions, but I think you better talk with SA moms.

My kids go to a Montessori and have since they were 3 months old, it's awesome and thats putting it mildly. I can't even begin to tell you what a wonderful help it was for my son Ben, who had borderline SIDS (sensory integration disorder)...the progress he made at that school was remarkable, so I think it would be PERFECT for Adam. Montessori is all about nuturing young minds whle keeping the spirit free. I don't find ours "unstructured" AT ALL. The children have no constraints on how much they want to learn in areas they show interest but there is a basic curriculum they do follow. I also loved the classrooms ( a true Mont will have 3-6yr olds in same room)A Montessori will install in your child a foundation that evolves into a life-long love of learning.

Montessori is great !!! And I think Adam and kate might just benefit from it. I wish we had one close by for my girly.

If your children need structure, I vote no. In my experience with these schools and children in these schools (I'm in the family and child therapy field), those children who need routine have a very difficult time adjusting. Although some sing the praises of the Montessori layout, when compared to other schooling systems, they are on the looser end of the spectrum. If a child struggles to motivate themselves, to pace themselves, work alone or find meaning apart from basic instruction, this format is typically not the best. For independent learners who are good at pushing themselves, it can be a great way to let them learn at their own pace. Some have called Montessori schools the "Home school that is not at home"...but I suppose that depends on the homeschooler, because I've seen some strict parents!

Please, feel free to email me if you want to know more of my experience - but I love it. However, a caution, not all are the same.

But myself and my three siblings all went to one, each child with a very different personality, and to this day we say it was the best money my parents ever spent.

I sent my son to one two days a week in England. If I could have figured out how to send him more, I would have. Best money I ever spent. I knew when I signed him up that it was going to be a good experience; yet, still found myself astounded by how much he blossomed there. I wish to heck I could find one in my area of South Africa.

I think it depends on the child. My kids need structure - especially my boy. He wouldn't do well in a montessori school at all.

I went to a Montessori school from kindergarten through 5th grade, as did my brother and sister. My sister now has her son in a Montessori preschool, and my brother has just enrolled his son in a Waldorf school - so we do all pretty much believe in the approach!

The head of the school I attended actually studied with Maria Montessori, so I think what I experienced was a close to "real" Montessori as you'll find. The emphasis was on individual progress in key skills - physical development, math, reading, writing - with a lot of hands on materials. I attribute my solid understanding of mathematical concepts to the hands-on math materials. When you know what 100 beads looks like, and how it can be broken down into different groups easily - then you never have a problem with basic math skills.

The school I went to also encouraged exploration of the arts. We did a lot of craft and art projects that were tied into other curriculum. We had music time every week. And what I still remember was that in 1st grade we actually went to a production of the opera Aida. Heavy stuff for 1st graders? Maybe, but we spent a lot of time before it listening to music in the classroom, discussing what opera was, and talking about the story (in age-appropriate terms). It was fabulous.

As others have said, it's essential to learn how the specific school approaches the Montessori method. In my experience, it's great for kids who are interested in exploring and working on their own, and for others to learn to do so. For children who really do want to be directed, it can be challenging.

My assvice (sorry if it is a repeat of what has already been said - no time to read other comments...) Go on your own and sit in when they are busy working - you will know if it will work for your kids or not. I went and realised that it won't - structure is WAY to important in my son's life (sadly cause I loved the school, the teachers and the way they do things)

It's interesting that some of you say Montessoris are not structured -- we feel as though our daughter's school (in the US) is almost too structured at times. The schedule is the same every day, and there's a definite structure to the order in which children are taught to use each of the materials and a great deal of persnicketiness about how they use them. We like Montessori a lot but sometimes wish it had more room for imagination and play.

My boys attend an amazing montessori pre school and they are incredibly happy there. I find their approach works for both my boys who are totally different personalities. The headmistress emphasises the importance of building each and every childs self esteem and confidence and makes sure they feel secure and happy. I realise that each school is different but I highly recommend the montessori based teaching method. xx

We recently moved our daughter to a Montessori school. I felt, as you mentioned, that it would be too 'granola' for us. However, our daughter is thriving & loves the school. She has a temperament similar to Kate, she has to be in charge. This has not presented a problem. We have had to explain how there are 'school rules' & 'home rules' in certain situations (I'm sorry, but it is unrealistic to expect a 4 year old to properly wipe their butt with three squares of toilet paper!). However, after 4 months I am glad we made the switch. Good luck on making the decision.

Dude... The preschool campus is on a wine farm... You still have any doubts?


Seriously - my son is in a Montessori school. You've got some great comments on that so far, so I won't add anything except to say that it's worked out wonderfully for us. And him, most importantly.

My son attends a Montessori preschool, and I am heartbroken that I will have to take him out to send him to 'big school' before I think he is ready (but the education system in the UK sucks - my son is forced to go to school when he has only just turned 4. Can you imagine?!). He has been in the preschool for over a year, and the fine motor skills, letter / number familiarity, curiousity and general manners they encourage are outstanding - just as a direct result of the learning approach. I'd say that the one negative is things like dressing up and the imaginative / craft side is slightly lacking - but that is down to the individual school, and the child's (non-)choice of activity (my son looks at me like I am insane when I suggest he dresses up!). Depending on the school, they may or may not be good at encouraging them to attempt very new things. My son never paints at school, but they won't push him to, either. But he does puzzles at an 8yr old's level, which they gently encourage and stretch. Each to their own.

My son is very like Adam (borderline SIDS) and it is a wonderfully calm and peaceful environment and the only one that I found allowed my son to concentrate and 'learn' (I use that very loosely as he is only 3!), as there weren't the distractions of a standard (very noisy) preschool. One could argue that it meant that he didn't learn to 'rough it' and therefore won't be prepared for 'big school' - but my standpoint is that it hasn't scared him off the concept of 'school' by being too overwhelming, and is allowing him to develop his confidence wonderfully, without the distractions normally inherent in preschool (ie other people's overly noisy bratty kids!). They are taught to be kind and considerate, which I feel is paid lip service to in any other environment. I certainly have seen a lot of very worrying and unkind behaviour in all the other preschools that I've seen.

Kate would love the very practical stuff they do. My son volunteers at his art club to sweep up every week - and that's certainly not through my modelling or encouragement, it's all Montessori! She might miss out on the imaginative dressing up stuff, but then she can do that all at home and it sounds like she has that all sorted. She would love being able to 'mother' the younger kids and I think she would really enjoy being able to do her own thing, rather than the set activities favoured by other types of preschool.

Go and sit in and observe a morning's school. Watch how the kids interact with each other, how much attention the staff are paying to kids that aren't directly interacting with them, how they engage the children in new activities, and how the children react to the staff. You might find some of it over-stuffy (some people are appalled that my son shakes hands with his teacher before and after school - I just think it's good manners). They also tend to have a higher staff/student ratio and smaller class sizes, which I find so much more reassuring.

And another possibility - can you do a trial hour / 90 minutes with Adam and Kate? I chose my Montessori preschool after going round various options with my (then) 18 month old. All the other places we saw, my son cowered behind me and would not interact. We went to the Montessori and despite being hungry and tired, my son looked around, walked over to an activity and started playing very naturally with a boy twice his size, who showed him how it worked. Take the kids and see their reactions. You'll know.
Good luck :)

I didn't get to read all of the posts, but I thought Shandra's response was spot on with my experience. My above all advise, is to spend time at the school and see how it makes you feel. Then ask if you can bring Adam and Kate in (individually) to meet with a teacher and interact with the space. That will tell you a lot. ANd for what it's worth, I don't find the Montessori school my son goes to, to be unstructured. It's true, the kids are taught to be self directed, but there is guidance and modeling within that. Their day is actually quite structured and routined overall, which my son absolutely needs. I found the play-based pre-schools waaaaaay more unstructured and likely to cause over-excitement or anxiety in my spirited boy.

All I can offer is that my father-in-law told me that he thinks Montessori preschool/elementary school is the reason that my husband is smarter than his brothers. I don't have any personal experience with one though.

my two older daughters, now 25 and 22 went to a montessori pre-school. they loved it - and their speech, social development and creativity were all boosted considerably. both were defined as gifted at an early age when their primary school asked for permission to have them assessed by the local university's educational psych department (which scared the hell out of me as i had no comprehension of how i should treat them once the labels had been glued on. LABELS SUCK!).

however, when going to a standard primary school afterwards, and in her later schooling, my eldest daughter ran into trouble - and i did not realise why until much later. montessori is child-led - in that there are a series of activities that the kids need to get through, but they have much say over what of those activities they undertake, and when etc. the primary school, however, was curriculum led, so she was taken back a long way by having to repeat tasks and activities that she had already accomplished well, as in reading books well below her actual level of ability because the curriculum said all kids needed to read them in a certain order. she was then defined as a gifted under-achiever, again a label!!!!, but very rarely reached her (so-called) potential in any school activity. so for her, standard schooling was a mis-match with montessori, as has been the standard working world- as she excels in activities that she loves, and she will push herself beyond belief when self directed. the directress of montessori described her as a perfect montessori kid, but lets face it, the world is not always presented in the montessori method. she has had to try many different fields of endeavour to find a match with her own style. she is now in a career that suits, with an employer that sings her praises highly, after sampling many many different areas of study and work. it has been an enormous struggle for her.

this is not the fault of the montessori school, but something about her own personality and learning style that was highlighted by the difference between her progress in that school and her lagging behind at the next schools she attended.

her sister, on the other hand, romped through her entire schooling process after montessori, excelling at everything, and is currently finishing her third year out of five in vet studies with consistently high marks - with an arguably harder curriculum than human medicine.

both girls have remarkable focus and drive when doing things they deem important - something that montessori school reinforced and developed further.

our family life was pretty horrendous, and no doubt that affected them both in different ways, but also, i could have been better equipped to support and supplement their education if i had been more aware of the importance of my own role as parent. i tended to leave it to the school and not to be proactive in ensuring they were getting the help they needed.

the lesson for me, with the latest addition only 14 months old and heading for montessori also, is that i need to know her intimately, and be wise to exactly how she is being taught, and how then to support that process and reinforce it at home. also, i need to know how to distance myself emotionally from her when she is struggling and be able to make clear headed decisions about what is best for her future - i.e. how i can best help her grow into independent self-directed adult who is socially, emotionally and intellectually able - so that her adult life is a joy and not a huge unnecessary struggle.

to do that, i need to shut down my own sense of inadequacy which makes it hard to acknowledge and difficult traits in my kids - its easier to blame the school or some outside factor.

so - if you do send them to montessori, be part of the action - read maria montessori's philosophy and see if it fits with what you and marko know of adam and kate. ask to observe in the classroom. question whether the way conflict is settled and managed fits with your style, or whether you might have to adapt your way of dealing with some things so as to reinforce the lessons they are learning there. and then be pro-active in seeking out further schooling that supports and reinforces the way the kids work best so that they can proceed and develop safely at their own pace.

you are such a pro-active mom, i can't see this being an issue for you, but encourage you to really know the montessori system well so that they maximise the chances for development that it offers.

buona fortuna bella mia! xxxx

Go visit the actual school and see what you think.

Anybody can claim they're using "montessori methods" and a lot of places do. You can read up on Montessori here:


but again, it's up to the individual school how they implement it.

My understanding of Montessori is that it's all about teaching self-sufficiency. Anything they can be taught to do themselves, they are taught to do themselves. This is great except when it's not (like when you are trying to get to Target before it closes and suddenly your 3-year-old INSISTS upon doing her own socks and shoes, opening her own car door and doing up her own car seat buckles, a process which takes a full 45 minutes). My kids love it, though. (Note: My kids don't go to an accredited Montessori school -- it's just a place we like that happens to use some montessori methods.)

Love Montessori! My daughter attended Montessori from ages 2 until 9, unfortunately we moved from the area or I would've had her continue. My niece attended a Montessori until she was 14. I felt it gave my daughter a very positive, solid enjoyment for learning. It was great and would recommend it to everyone. That being said, Montessori is NOT for every child. Some children do much better if they all do the same thing at the same time. Good luck, hope you do check it out and have your children evaluated.

If it seems to hippy-dippy then at least you go to to browse before the kids are stuck in a place they don't like. Ever since me and my hubby celebrated our 10th anniversary and he and my kids bought me a pair of gorgeous diamond earrings from www.idonowidont.com I realized that the education my kids get is so important. They helped my hubby pick the jewelry by reading the details of each piece of jewelry. They all go to public school.

Another vote in favor, in general. I wasn't a Montessori kid, but my children go to one now and it's amazing. It's a public school and there are quite a few kids with various conditions/diagnoses, as well as personality quirks and diverse backgrounds, and the system seems to work for all of them. Academically, the kids do very well, and perhaps more important, they're turning into caring, well-socialized little people.

The granola factor exists to some extent, especially when Earth Day rolls around. One of the teachers is adamant about limiting "chemicals" in her classroom, and some of them are very picky about what you bring for snack day. But you can smile and nod and go on about your business, too. Certainly the lunch boxes I've seen reflect a huge range of nutritional philosophy in the kids' home lives.

My twin boys started in a Montessori School last year when they were 3. My one son who is outgoing, fairly compliant, a good listener and a people pleaser thrived in the unstructured environment. It was certainly another story for my quieter son who "dances to his own tune" and likes to do things his own way. Maybe he was too young at the time, but the lack of structure and supervision (25 kids - 2 teachers) did not work at all for my "free thinker". He would wander out of the classroom when no one was watching him, mix and mess up the Montessori tools (put the beads in the sand and letters in the water etc.), moved chairs around the room ..all things very verboten! He also wanted to engage in "make believe" play with the other children, but this wasn't encouraged. The teachers were frustrated with him and let it show, and he would come home very unhappy in the afternoon, and not want to go to school in the morning. Finally, before we had a chance to pull both kids out of the school, my son was expelled! When I moved the kids to a more structured school environment, they both did very well. So...for my one son, it was a very stressful and negative experience, and I would definitely encourage you to learn more about the Montessori Method and visit the school in question and meet with the teachers prior to enrolling Adam and Kate.

I have an 11yr old daughter in the 5th grade in a Montessori school. I too was not sure about the Kumbaya group hug granola style, 5yrs later I love it. Reilly is a sweet mellow child and works well independantly, give her directions and off she goes. I have a friend with a son now in 8th grade, very active, distractable (diagnosed with ADD), needs supervision. Both kids are enrolled in the same school, and both kids are thriving. Montessori is hands on, tangible learning. It helps for kids to learn about something that they can feel, see, taste, etc before moving on to abstract learning. At my child's school Art is considered work product, not just art. I like it that my child learns in the best way that works for her, everything is geared to the individual. I know life is not like that but why not give kid's a headstart by letting them help lead the learning in the style that suits them, ie: visual, auditory, etc.
Goodluck with your decision.

Montessori rocks!
Seriously. My kid could read before he started grade 1 and could work with numbers well into the hundreds. I loved it for him and would recommend it for any child. It is very hands on learning, and they work with senses before moving on to abstract learning.
My son loved his montessori and would jump up and down in the car when we were coming around the corner already. Seriously. He could not handle the school holidays. I would advise you to go and sit in for a few hours and see how they operate and have the directresses (they don't call themselves teachers) explain the equipment and stuff to you.

Most of the Montessori schools here in SA are really great.

They are very structured - and in fact teach children skills like packing away when finished playing (very NB!) and how to work/play in their own space without encroaching on where others are busy.

The thing that I love most about it is that each child is an individual and is therefore allowed to develop at their own pace. The care givers are all trained in watching for individual traits and are very good at ensuring that these are taken into account. No two kids are the same and this is what makes Montessori so unique - they celebrate those unique qualities and teach your kids how to use those to their advantage.

Go and see the school - take the kids with. You will quickly see how they fit in and how they enjoy the surroundings. And you will be able to ask all your questions and such.

Best of luck with this decision!

My son lasted a week at a Montessori school. We found it to be too unstructured and the small kids were expected to have a longer attention span for a particular activity that one would have expected for their age. Also, if you visit the classroom, be careful to take note - in this particular classroom the kettle was left on a table at child height in a class for ages 2-3!!! In addition, some of the kids were still in nappies which appeared not to be changed too often by the teacher. As cautioned by the others, I guess it depends on the school!!

I wanted to do Montessori, but could not find a good one near us - the one near us has a bad name for undisciplined behavior and 15 minutes there convinced me that it is not where I wanted my kids to be. But my BFF's kids was at a great Montessori - it worked wonderfully for her daughter - she is today a star student, but did not for her twins who have learning disabilities. They were not school ready at 7 and she moved them to an ordinary pre-school for the next year. Their speech improved such a lot in the first 3 months that she was astounded. So I guess the answer is depending on the child. I think it would be great for Kate, but not sure about Adam. But heck, the wine farm thing will be a bonus for me!

Maria Montessori never patented her method so the name Montessori is used to cover a wide range of schools. That said, I love Montessori. My son was in for two months when he was 16 and 17 months old (then we moved out of the country or he would still be in the school).

There are two views of Montessori that I think are inaccurate and unfair (at least in a good Montessori school and those are that Montessori is unstructured and that kids aren't allowed to be creative.

Montessori is not unstructured. It is not free form. The environment is very structured and tailored to the children's needs, what is less structured is their activities. They have themes and circle time, etc., but most of the day, the individual students select their "work" and work on it for as long as they want. Every time I observed the classroom of 15 month to 3 years old, all the students were engaged in their work.

As for creativity, in a good school, creativity is encouraged. Music, art and nature (growing plants from seeds and gardening from the earliest years) are essential parts of the program. They don't do a lot of coloring xeroxed drawings that someone else did or silly, junky projects that are done at a lot of preschools. Rather, they paint with real paints on an easel and experiment with materials that they can do themselves.

A bossy kid like Kate probably loves to do things herself and Montessori teaches using a lot of real world applications, including cleaning. Can you imagine toddlers, wiping the tables (I know your kids are older, but I am just talking from my experience)? I witnessed it. Little ones love to help and do things themselves. There is a lot of emphasis on respecting each others personal space. I think Kate will love it and do very well.

I think Adam will do well also because it is a non-competitive/non-comparative atmosphere so he can learn at his pace and with less frustration. Montessori wants kids to love to learn and enjoy learning. The philosophy being that children learn naturally if the right environment is provided.

I definitely agree with the others that you should observe the classroom that your kids will potentially be in and possibly let them visit and participate to see how it goes. Make a list of questions and ask the guides/school director.

I am going back to the States to have my second baby and will be re-enrolling my son (now 2 years old) in the same Montessori school since we will be there for 4-5 months and I can't wait.

Good luck with your decision!

Hi Tertia,
What primary school are you planning to send your children to? I know they seem young, but a Principal of a primary school in my area says he doesn't like to admit children that have attended a Montessori pre-school. A lot of people feel that way. I don't know anything about Montessori teaching, but there is still alot of people that don't like it. I would find out if your intended Primary school felt the same way.

I'm sure that someone has said this before, but I must add anyway.
Montessori schools allow children to learn at their own pace. While this is fantastic for self motivators, it can be crippling for children who need a little pressure in order to learn.

Another thing to keep in mind is that integration from a Montessori pre or primary school to a 'regular' secondary school can be very difficult. I would think even more so for Adam, who seems to need continuity and structure?

Me, personally, I don't believe that Montessori is the best head start for ALL children. Once these children reach 13 years old that are put into an environment where the rules are no longer bent to what they want. The lessons are no longer 'pick your favourite'. Montessori does not portray a realistic picture of The Real World. Because TRW is tough, it's hard and it's dog-eat-dog.

I have a seven year old in Gr2, and she would definately not thrive in a Montessori school. She excells at Maths and Engilish, but loves art. What do you think she would be doing all day? Just because she is good at Maths, does not mean that she enjoys it!

Hi Tertia, I am not going to add information about the schooling - as you have enough info already with all the posts, but just want to say that both my kids (Lauren 14) and Jake (11) went to Honeycomb Montessori school in Diep River and I can't rave loud enough what a wonderful experience it was for them (and for me!). I am also far from a "butternut" - in fact it brings to mind the incident when I bribed Lauren with an ice-cream if she greeted the teacher in the morning (something "montessori") and lo and behold, after greeting the teacher really nicely, she turned around in a loud voice and asked "so now can I have my ice-cream?". much laughter from the teacher despite my embarrasment! Both my kids have since gone on to government schools (Sweet Valley Primary and Bergvliet High School) and they adjusted very well. We still sing songs learnt at Honeycomb and my kids still operate (when they are not killing each other) by the principles learnt there - respect for others, kindness, consideration, etc.

Not to argue too much but I did want to disagree just a bit with this:

"Once these children reach 13 years old that are put into an environment where the rules are no longer bent to what they want. The lessons are no longer 'pick your favourite'. Montessori does not portray a realistic picture of The Real World. Because TRW is tough, it's hard and it's dog-eat-dog."

I actually think the real world is a lot about finding your favourite and doing that. :) Yes we do need to acquire skills we don't think we will need and work entry-level jobs and so on. I actually think traditional schools are very bad at that because of the whole grading system.

But what I really wanted to say was that at our school anyway there are plenty, plenty of rules and structure. They just aren't all focused on curriculum.

not at all connected, but something guaranteed to make your heart SING!!!!!

(don't go getting all carried away now will you)



LOling at the ketchup!!! I always think yes! It surely must count as a veggie!

We went and visited a hoity toity Montessori school here in Colorado. We told them about our 3 year old son's quirkiness, therapy, not being potty trained, sensory integration, blah, blah. They assured us that they were PROFESSIONAL eduactors, been in the business a million years, all kids devolop and learn differently, and so on. They met our child and declared that he would thrive there. Then happily took our $1800 non-refundable deposit.
One month in, 1 week after he'd been out a week with the Croup, they declared that his lack of being potty trained was DEFIANCE. Kicked him out. And kept the deposit. The $1800 was on top of 2 months of tuition paid. That was a very expesive 4.5 weeks of school we paid for.
I'm just saying - if you have a special needs kid, be weary of people that will lie to you when you're most vulnarable. Once they have their hands on that deposit check, they can do with you as they please, including break your heart and tell you the most aweful things about your child.

You've gotten lots of really good advice, so I won't repeat it. You may want to talk to your OT about what kinds of school environments are usually godo for kids with SI issues--montesorri can be great for some kids,but turn others in to little volcanos of rage. One of my friends loved it for her daugther, but her son was always in trouble because the structure of it chaffed him. He wanted to do what he wanted to do with mateirals, whereas his sister wanted to do what was expcted.

from what i understand (and i did a brief investigation when looking for schools for damien), the kids have to be fully independent to do well at montessori, and my knucklehead needs way too much extra attention being an ADHDer.
good luck!

Hi Tertia! We're definitely sending Daniel to the Ntida Montessori school when he turns 3 and will probably continue with their primary school. Did you know that their primary school now runs through to Grade 7? Hopefully they will have reached high school grades by the time he is at high school age. I've done a lot of reading up on Montessori and spoken to many parents of Montessori kids and I think it is definitely the way to go!!!!

Montessori schools vary and are great for some kids but not others. As an Early Childhood educator my problem is the emphasis placed on working alone or, rather, the lack of opportunities to work and play in groups. This lack of socialization is a nightmare for some kids and can be a real problem when they move on the "big school" with big classes. The other is the lack of creativity. Yes, there is a lot of emphasis on Art and Music but these activities tend to be very structured. Rarely are kids turned loose with art materials and allowed to just experiment and create.
The materials are wonderful but children who like to think outside the lines can have a hard time. There is one way to work with the pink tower, don't try and make a city with it. The bells are to be rung in order.
Your best bet is to visit and look at the program in terms of your own kids. Don't just take a tour-insist on soending a couple of hours in the classroom. Also ask to see their parent handbook. Some Montessori programs go overboard in telling parents how to raise their children. As a contrast, see if you can find a program that follows the Reggio Emmilia approach. There must be something in the air in Italy.

How did this week's ultrasound go?

In my opinion as a previous daycare worker, public school teacher, daycare owner and parent...very few children have a problem with Montessori. Yes, some can't handle it, there definitely are a few out there, but in my opinion, this is one of the best school settings out there.

I didn't read the other responses so someone might have written and told you the direct opposite, so just no it is my opinion, although I've been around the block a time or two.

There basis is learning through play, so no hard boundaries. I think it will be very wel, suited to you and your family.But why not send them there foar a day or two first?

I am a Montessori teacher as well as having mainstream qualifications and I attended a Montessori school.

I have to completely disagree with what jwg said above about lack of social opportunities and lack of creative expression. It's true that three year olds mainly work independently because that is what most of them prefer and can cope with. Through practice, support and plenty of time to experiment they begin working with other children in pairs and groups. By the time they are 5/6 they are usually designing and carrying out large-scale projects with other children with minimal teacher assistance. They also actively practice conflict resolution, helping and assisting others and taking responsibility for themselves and the classroom through the Grace and Courtesy lessons.

Another wonderful thing about a Montssori classroom is the relationships that form between the older and younger children. They begin at three and have the six year olds to act as mentors, helpers and leaders in the room. It is often much less confronting for a child to be shown something or helped by another child, rather than an adult. The six year olds help the younger ones and many enjoy taking on a teacher role, which is fantastic for consolidating their own knowledge as well. Each child has the opportunity to be one of the youngest and one of the oldest in the room and because they are together for three years, very strong social bonds are formed.

A proper Montessori school will always encourage creative expression with art materials, music, drama etc. There are many, many activities which are totally open-ended, and although it is true that some of the equipment is used in a particular way at first, as the child uses it and experiments with it, more and more creativity can be expressed.

It is also not true that Montessori is unstructured - it is freedom within a structure, and a very logical and obvious structure at that. Children have freedom of choice, of movement and of interaction as long as they are bound by the responsibility of respecting others, themselves and the environment.

As others have said; find out about the teachers' qualifications and if the school has AMI-qualified staff. There should also be a mixed age range of 3 years to 6 years in a group and children should stay in a session for at least three hours at a time, pref five days a week. They should be able to work at their own pace, each child should be planned for individually over the whole year and teachers' should welcome observations in their classrooms.

The classroom should be aesthetically pleasing and feel calm and serene. The teacher should seem in charge but be loving and warm with the children. You should see happy children working alone, in pairs and in groups while the adults in the room move quietly among them helping them, presenting a lesson to an individual child or a small group of children and generally acting as a facilitator.

Done properly Montessori suits all types of children. I have taught children on the Autism spectrum, children with sensory integration issues, children with ADHD and children with Down Syndrome as well as gifted children. All flourished.

Feel free to email me if you'd like to ask anything at all.

Montessori is great !!! And I think Adam and kate might just benefit from it. I wish we had one close by for my girl. Thanks for your post.

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