Has anyone tried Montessori for elementary?

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-18-2005
Has anyone tried Montessori for elementary?
8
Thu, 12-06-2012 - 3:08pm

We're looking for alternatives for M., who is going through an anxiety disorder.  We are not in a position to homeschool, but he urgently needs a smaller class and more individualized attention.  There is a Montessori in our area that goes to 8th grade, but I'm not sure how this method would work for an anxious kid who is academically advanced and socially delayed.

Gwen

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iVillage Member
Registered: 01-21-2013
Thu, 01-24-2013 - 12:36am

We live in a tiny rural town with less than 10,000 people, we are about 2 hours away from Kansas City, before we moved here we considered moving to the city and I checked out the 4 or 5 Montessori's there.  One was highly recommended but had a long waiting list.  In our little town, where my older son insists he wants to stay until graduation in 2 years so he will be with his friends, we only have 3 options:  public, a private parochial, or homeschooling.  The private parochial is not equipped to deal with kids with things like ADHD, they simply don't have the staffing or funds for special  programs.  I cannot and will not homeschool, although I might pay another mom who homeschools to add Josh in.  I think once the public school adjusts to Josh and his learning styles, we should be okay, but I love the Montessori approach to learning and think Josh would thrive in a true Montessori school.

Blessings, Michelle

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Registered: 05-27-1998
Tue, 12-11-2012 - 6:25pm

Echoing what Turtletime said: Make sure the Montessori is really a Montessori. One of my good friends has three gifted kids. The oldest has been socially delayed her entire life, and also struggles with an eating disorder. At one point, all of them were in a Montessori school and really did well there up until the oldest was in 6th grade, but a new director came in and the focus began to shift and include more ideas you'd find in a regular school. My friend pulled the kids out and sent them to public school where 2 of the 3 did fine.

I will say that whatever you do, avoid any high-pressure, super-competitive environment, no matter how great the reviews and how many gifted kids attend. Many gifted kids, particularly those who struggle with anxiety issues, do not thrive in such a setting. After we pulled our son out of his highly competitive, bells and whistles, yada yada public school, his anxiety symptoms all but disappeared and he has been off his meds for 5 months.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-18-2005
Tue, 12-11-2012 - 11:21am

He's doing counseling at school re: social skills and coping strategies plus child psych outside, he has a behavior chart, they do things like send him on little pretextual errands if he just needs a breather away from the crowded classroom, etc.  They started doing morning yoga at the school day with the whole class as a calming/focusing thing.  There are a lot of moving parts to the latest plan. 

Gwen

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Avatar for cmlisab
iVillage Member
Registered: 09-30-2011
Mon, 12-10-2012 - 1:11pm

What methods are they going to try? My 9 year old often struggles with anxiety so we're always looking for new strartegies to help him! 

We recently ordered the book "What to do when you worry too much"- I highly recommend it! 

Lisa 

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-18-2005
Sat, 12-08-2012 - 12:02pm

Thanks for the input, guys.  We just had a really involved meeting at his current school, and they seem to be working with us to develop strategies to help him in situ, but I will probably continue to do my homework in case these methods don't work out.  I do worry about the lack of structure--he's likely to curl up in the corner with a book or a math game all day.

Gwen

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iVillage Member
Registered: 04-09-2006
Fri, 12-07-2012 - 10:29am
I agree with the others...check out the school. The Montessori in our last town was a really good fit for the gifted kids that I knew that attended.
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Registered: 02-17-2004
Thu, 12-06-2012 - 8:35pm

I would agree with Turtletime to really check out the school.  You should be able to not only visit when class is in session, but also have your DS spend a few hours there and get his input.

We did a Montessori school one semester for preschool.  We were there 3 hours a day, 3 days a week.  We were advised to strongly consider a Montessori program as it allows more independence for learning.  It is structured so there is naturally a multi-level learning environment.  The philosophy is to meet the child where they are developmentally, which I love. 

In our school, there was not a LOT of group time.  There was some for basic instructions.  But then there were large periods of time for the DS to pursue his own interest.  He was the reader to the children in the reading area.  Children played together when they had a common interest.  If he wanted to pursue something in depth, he was encouraged.  If he was working on something new, he was given instructions on what to do.  The lights were lowered so the children were naturally quieter.  From a sensory perspective, this was ideal for us.

The pros - low structure, not a lot of time waiting for everyone else to catch up, decreased sensory stimulation, smaller classroom, high teacher ratio, able to deep dive on an activity, able to structure his own day to a great extent

The drawbacks - because the child has so much independence, DS spent most of his time ALONE doing his own thing.  This defeated our purpose completely as we wanted social interaction.  If he did not want to participate in group, he was able to opt out.  He latched onto a repetitive task and stayed there all day, day after day.  On the playground he would only play in the sandbox.  It wasn't until I was there early one day that I noticed it was the only play area in the shade.  Once we got him sunglasses, he would explore other areas of the playground.  Because the kids weren't doing things together, no-one picked up on the OT things, speech things, etc.  It also turned out to be too little structure for DS to manage.  He does better with a routine timewise, not subject-wise.  I hope that made sense.

Our current school offers a Montessori from 3 year old through Kindy.  We did not choose to go there as we had already tried a Montessori program.  However, a few of our classmates tried it at one time or another.  Their NT - average kiddos did NOT do well in the program.  One child stayed in the kitchen area the whole year.  Another did not deal well with the lack of structure which displayed as behavior issues.

All that being said, I LOVE the Montessori style teaching and use it heavily at home.  The emphasis is strongly on learning life skills and breaking things down to little steps so that even the youngest (developmentally) can participate in some way.  My entire life skills materials come from Montessori and I use the philosophy of breaking things down to what the child can achieve in everything we do.  Many of my homeschool ideas and print offs come from Montessori sites.  I am able to combine this teaching style with the right amount of routine for my DS and it works beautifully for us.

So look into it.  It is a fantastic philosophy.  But also really look into how it is implemented and the needs of your DS.

You may also want to consider a Charlotte Mason type of school.  Charlotte Mason also stresses following a child's interest.  I'm not sure if there a school like that nearby.

Avatar for turtletime
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-13-1998
Thu, 12-06-2012 - 4:55pm

I can only say that Montessori schools can vary drastically from campus to campus. Really check it out and see how inline they are with Maria Montessori's vision. A school closer to Maria would could be an excellent fit for your DS. One that wasn't, well, not so much. We've known gifted kids who thrive in them but not a direction we took with our own. Good luck and hope you find it to your liking!