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Montessori or public kindergarden

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Mar 8, 2013, 5:00pm   #1
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Tuuli35
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First, let me say that its not my intention is not to offend anybody, but as we are not Americans and moved to US quite recently then I really don't have any knowledge or opinion myself.
My toddler is turning 5 this summer and should start Kindergarten this year. We have both Montessori and public Kindergarten very close and cant decide for one of them. I have heard the line that Montessori graduates are better prepared for school but is there any truth in it?
Mar 8, 2013, 5:06pm   #2
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Swanky Mama Of Three
Most importantly IMO, do you know how good your public is or is not?

My DD did Montessori until Kindergarten. We loved it for her, but it wouldn't have worked for my boys.
Montessori allows a child to work at their own pace. She had to adjust in Kindergarten to the pace the classroom expected. She adjusted finally, my boys would've really struggled.
She read a lot earlier than they did and I credit Montessori, however, we used it as preschool, not Kinder. By the end of kindergarten or 1st grade, most kids will all be reading within a level or 2 of one another anyhow. Most

I'd recommend it for sure for a preschooler. With our personal experience, I'd suggest putting the child into the school in kindergarten that they will also attend for the rest of elementary.
Mar 8, 2013, 5:09pm   #3
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Originally Posted by Swanky Mama Of Three
Most importantly IMO, do you know how good your public is or is not?

My DD did Montessori until Kindergarten. We loved it for her, but it wouldn't have worked for my boys.
Montessori allows a child to work at their own pace. She had to adjust in Kindergarten to the pace the classroom expected. She adjusted finally, my boys would've really struggled.
She read a lot earlier than they did and I credit Montessori, however, we used it as preschool, not Kinder. By the end of kindergarten or 1st grade, most kids will all be reading within a level or 2 of one another anyhow. Most

I'd recommend it for sure for a preschooler. With our personal experience, I'd suggest putting the child into the school in kindergarten that they will also attend for the rest of elementary.
Thank you!
I think it is good public kindergarten, its in good school district, building is new and well maintained.
Mar 8, 2013, 5:11pm   #4
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Swanky Mama Of Three
Montessori's should all be ran very similarly, but I doubt they are.
I'd tour it then decide.

It could help to have the child in class making friends that they'll be in school w/ throughout though. If you're new, it'll help you meet people as well.
Mar 8, 2013, 6:29pm   #5
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Originally Posted by Tuuli35
First, let me say that its not my intention is not to offend anybody, but as we are not Americans and moved to US quite recently then I really don't have any knowledge or opinion myself.
My toddler is turning 5 this summer and should start Kindergarten this year. We have both Montessori and public Kindergarten very close and cant decide for one of them. I have heard the line that Montessori graduates are better prepared for school but is there any truth in it?
Good for you for looking at multiple options. I would tour both and see what is the better fit for your child. To me, the best school is the one that is best for your child

What do you want for your child to gain from Kindergarten? What are the goals you have for that year?

For me, I wanted Kindergarten to be a year to learn to enjoy learning, gain basic concepts, learn patterns in math and language (but not necessarily learn to read...I wasn't concerned about that), gain social maturity, and back to learning to value the opportunity to learn new things. I wanted half days, no homework, a play-based, centers-based learning experience. I found that at one area Lutheran school. I also wanted to find a school that I could enroll ds in through grade 5. It has turned out that I am also sending him to the same school for middle school. I share my goals for K, a year I value tremendously, as examples.

My oldest went to a parochial Kindergarten (still goes to the school, actually, and is in 7th grade) in the mornings, and two afternoons/week, he attended Montessori. Two very different programs, but he did well in both. Like Swanky said, it depends on the kid. And I agree that the transition from a self-directed Montessori program to a traditional classroom is an adjustment. Not a bad thing but something to be mindful of during the transition if you opt for Montessori; in other words, I wouldn't steer away from Montessori because it will be a bit more adjustment to 1st grade public school, but be sure to watch and help when the transition does happen.

Good luck. Oh, and I have a thread started about 1/2 and full day Kindergarten. While that isn't the issue at hand, there are a lot of great thoughts, ideas, experiences, and resources that may be worth skimming through.
Mar 8, 2013, 6:55pm   #6
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When we lived in London and DS was young, we had the choice of a local Montesorri or a local state primary school from the age of about 4/5. We could have gone private as an additional choice or perhaps gone for a Church school. We went for our local state primary school in the end - it had a very pragmatic headteacher and very good teachers and it just felt right. Turned out well for DS and he's now at a good state grammar school.

Just go round both schools and see how you feel. I'm a great believer in the gut feeling..
Mar 8, 2013, 7:03pm   #7
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look, let me preface this by saying that I'm not a parent.

however, I did montessori from age 3 until first grade and I have always considered it the source of my intelligence. yup, I'm not humble, I've always been smarter than average and was a really good student. and I have always been convinced it's because of my montessori experience.

also it never bothered me to not have gone through kindergarten with the rest of the kids I went to elementary school with. especially because since the montessorri school was in the same area, there were probably 5-10 of us from that school who then went on to the same public elementary school.
Mar 8, 2013, 8:30pm   #8
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Originally Posted by No Cute
Good for you for looking at multiple options. I would tour both and see what is the better fit for your child. To me, the best school is the one that is best for your child

What do you want for your child to gain from Kindergarten? What are the goals you have for that year?

For me, I wanted Kindergarten to be a year to learn to enjoy learning, gain basic concepts, learn patterns in math and language (but not necessarily learn to read...I wasn't concerned about that), gain social maturity, and back to learning to value the opportunity to learn new things. I wanted half days, no homework, a play-based, centers-based learning experience. I found that at one area Lutheran school. I also wanted to find a school that I could enroll ds in through grade 5. It has turned out that I am also sending him to the same school for middle school. I share my goals for K, a year I value tremendously, as examples.

My oldest went to a parochial Kindergarten (still goes to the school, actually, and is in 7th grade) in the mornings, and two afternoons/week, he attended Montessori. Two very different programs, but he did well in both. Like Swanky said, it depends on the kid. And I agree that the transition from a self-directed Montessori program to a traditional classroom is an adjustment. Not a bad thing but something to be mindful of during the transition if you opt for Montessori; in other words, I wouldn't steer away from Montessori because it will be a bit more adjustment to 1st grade public school, but be sure to watch and help when the transition does happen.

Good luck. Oh, and I have a thread started about 1/2 and full day Kindergarten. While that isn't the issue at hand, there are a lot of great thoughts, ideas, experiences, and resources that may be worth skimming through.
I actually want the same things. Learning different subjects is important (in our case especially reading as I don't know how to teach him to read in English), but in my opinion 5 years old should mainly enjoy school and have fun. I don't want him to be upset and sad before real school with real responsibility begins.

Originally Posted by Swanky Mama Of Three
Montessori's should all be ran very similarly, but I doubt they are.
I'd tour it then decide.

It could help to have the child in class making friends that they'll be in school w/ throughout though. If you're new, it'll help you meet people as well.
Very good points!

Originally Posted by mundodabolsa
look, let me preface this by saying that I'm not a parent.

however, I did montessori from age 3 until first grade and I have always considered it the source of my intelligence. yup, I'm not humble, I've always been smarter than average and was a really good student. and I have always been convinced it's because of my montessori experience.

also it never bothered me to not have gone through kindergarten with the rest of the kids I went to elementary school with. especially because since the montessorri school was in the same area, there were probably 5-10 of us from that school who then went on to the same public elementary school.
It is so great to hear from someone who has been in Montessori herself! Thank you for sharing!
Originally Posted by Cornflower Blue
When we lived in London and DS was young, we had the choice of a local Montesorri or a local state primary school from the age of about 4/5. We could have gone private as an additional choice or perhaps gone for a Church school. We went for our local state primary school in the end - it had a very pragmatic headteacher and very good teachers and it just felt right. Turned out well for DS and he's now at a good state grammar school.

Just go round both schools and see how you feel. I'm a great believer in the gut feeling..
My gut feeling is to go with Montessori, I like that they are small and seem to have more time for each child.
Mar 8, 2013, 8:39pm   #9
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Keep in mind I'm not a parent and am only college-aged myself, so I'm not any sort of authority on child development or education, but I thought I'd go ahead and share just so you get a different perspective.
My cousin goes to preschool at Montessori and it's been terrible for him. The catholic nursery school his older sisters went to closed because of consolidation of parishes, so my aunt decided to give Montessori a try then. I've heard nothing but complaints about it since, and my cousin hates it. He isn't learning anything, and his social skills and discipline haven't improved, because he doesn't have to do anything he doesn't want to do or work with others if he doesn't want to at Montessori. He will definitely be switching to the school his sisters go to now for kindergarten.
Montessori was also sort of a feeder school to my prep school and I seriously think it caused issues for a lot of my classmates, particularly the ones who went there through elementary school. They had serious problems with authority, lacked discipline, and needed to be coddled. My mom and my friend's dad who was a teacher at my school recognized these problems as well. Now, I'm not sure how much of that had to do with Montessori, but it was the common denominator and I definitely think it was a significant factor. They were all intelligent though.
It's also true I'm sure that different Montessori schools function slightly differently depending on who is running them. And, as Swanky said, it definitely depends on the child. For my cousin and a lot of my former classmates, the Montessori philosophy didn't work for them. They needed a more structured and disciplined environment, and weren't able to make the switch to a more structured and disciplined environment after basically being their own boss. While other kids, like Swanky's daughter and Mundodabolsa, may thrive under more free form conditions, and are able to make the transition to more structured classrooms more easily. The longer they get used to the Montessori philosophy, and the older they get, the harder it will probably be to make the transition to more traditional schooling though.
You know your child best, so I would visit both schools, consider what you like and dislike about both, and then decide which environment you think would best benefit them.
Last edited Mar 8, 2013 at 8:50pm.
Mar 8, 2013, 8:44pm   #10
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Mar 8, 2013, 8:44pm   #11
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Originally Posted by Tuuli35
I actually want the same things. Learning different subjects is important (in our case especially reading as I don't know how to teach him to read in English), but in my opinion 5 years old should mainly enjoy school and have fun. I don't want him to be upset and sad before real school with real responsibility begins.



My gut feeling is to go with Montessori, I like that they are small and seem to have more time for each child.
My gut is Montessori will be a fit for you if you share the goals I stated. Obviously, we all want our kids to read as early as possible, but the importance of learning to enjoy the school experience trumps all for me. Montessori tends to be much more active for a young child, and the classes are smaller.

I also note your state, and I would argue that the Kindergarten curriculum in the State is far too intense for development at that age. My son was "behind" his public school peers after K at the parochial school, but now in 7th grade, he's testing five years ahead of his peers. I credit the positive and hardworking attitude he gained with an "easy" K with half of that progress. (His own internal work ethic is the other half.)

My youngest is in the same parochial school, but six years later, there are multiple pressures on the school to "keep up" with the public schools curriculum. I don't like the pressure to follow a curriculum we have all turned away from through enrolling our kids in the parochial school. (Ironic that much of the pressure is from parents who LEFT public school in favor of the model the parochial school offered. Weird, eh?) I want to see lower stress with early development and then increase the work and academics when their brains are ready. The research I'm finding on half/full day Kindergarten ALL says that kids will level out at 3rd grade regardless of whether they were ahead coming out of K. Montessori is, in my experience, less pressure, small classrooms, and fosters joy in learning.

In Finland, academic training doesn't begin until kids are 7. In Michigan, 5 year olds are being pushed hard and in large classes.
Mar 8, 2013, 9:22pm   #12
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For a child who is self-directed and social, Montessori is an excellent option. Our public school ran one Kindergarten-1st grade classroom like this, but it was NOT suited to all children. Fortunately, most of the children had been to pre-K there, so the teachers were better able to help direct those who would be most successful in that environment into that classroom.

I discussed it with the teachers and was given the option, but the teachers recommended and I agreed that the standard classroom would be better for my kids. My kids are dreamers and can literally daydream for hours. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but we knew they would do better academically and socially with a little more structure. Now that they are a little older? No Cute has a point, and based on test scores, curiosity and social skills, no one could tell the "Montessori" kids from the rest. IMO, it is a great learning option for certain kids, but I do not think it is necessarily the best option for all kids. As a parent, you likely have the best feel for what would work out best for your child.
Mar 8, 2013, 10:42pm   #13
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Well thought-out and well-written, CuteClassy. A very helpful perspective. I'm curious if you see a difference between peers who were educated in public schools versus private versus parochial. You're so insightful, would enjoy your perspective, and it could be helpful to OP.

Originally Posted by CuTe_ClAsSy
Keep in mind I'm not a parent and am only college-aged myself, so I'm not any sort of authority on child development or education, but I thought I'd go ahead and share just so you get a different perspective.
My cousin goes to preschool at Montessori and it's been terrible for him. The catholic nursery school his older sisters went to closed because of consolidation of parishes, so my aunt decided to give Montessori a try then. I've heard nothing but complaints about it since, and my cousin hates it. He isn't learning anything, and his social skills and discipline haven't improved, because he doesn't have to do anything he doesn't want to do or work with others if he doesn't want to at Montessori. He will definitely be switching to the school his sisters go to now for kindergarten.
Montessori was also sort of a feeder school to my prep school and I seriously think it caused issues for a lot of my classmates, particularly the ones who went there through elementary school. They had serious problems with authority, lacked discipline, and needed to be coddled. My mom and my friend's dad who was a teacher at my school recognized these problems as well. Now, I'm not sure how much of that had to do with Montessori, but it was the common denominator and I definitely think it was a significant factor. They were all intelligent though.
It's also true I'm sure that different Montessori schools function slightly differently depending on who is running them. And, as Swanky said, it definitely depends on the child. For my cousin and a lot of my former classmates, the Montessori philosophy didn't work for them. They needed a more structured and disciplined environment, and weren't able to make the switch to a more structured and disciplined environment after basically being their own boss. While other kids, like Swanky's daughter and Mundodabolsa, may thrive under more free form conditions, and are able to make the transition to more structured classrooms more easily. The longer they get used to the Montessori philosophy, and the older they get, the harder it will probably be to make the transition to more traditional schooling though.
You know your child best, so I would visit both schools, consider what you like and dislike about both, and then decide which environment you think would best benefit them.
I have heard this from teachers when some (not all) students transfer to more structured environments.
Mar 8, 2013, 11:44pm   #14
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It's truly a toss-up in this area.

Our public elementary school is on par with any private school. So many of our close friends have chosen Montessori, with just as many loving it as hating it; their conversations led me to believe that their children's personalities were the drivers of the end result/happiness level.

Many of the secondary school educators that I have talked to have said that our rigorous public school programs have been better in terms of preparation for future years.

This is such a grey area... I believe it depends on the location. Good luck to you!
Mar 9, 2013, 3:01am   #15
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Originally Posted by No Cute
Well thought-out and well-written, CuteClassy. A very helpful perspective. I'm curious if you see a difference between peers who were educated in public schools versus private versus parochial. You're so insightful, would enjoy your perspective, and it could be helpful to OP.
I apologize that this is so long. It's late and I'm rambling.

There was definitely a difference. I went to parochial elementary school and then private middle and high school. A lot of my friends from my parochial school went on to the public middle and/or high school. My catholic school was underfunded and got a new principal who was pretty much he!l on wheels while I was there who divided the faculty into two factions, the ones that kissed her butt and the ones that hated her, which didn't exactly produce the best teachers or a great learning environment. A lot of kids who switched to my private school had also gone to different parochial schools, and they all seemed to have similar problems. Underfunded, lacking in qualified teachers, but the kids were well adjusted in terms of discipline and sociability. The public school in my area is quite large and has been increasingly going down hill. The teachers can't control the students, there's lots of fighting and drugs, and a lack of respect. The students don't really care, and the teachers don't really care either. They just sort of talk at the board while the kids text under the desks. I have friends who go to some of the best public schools in my state, and even they don't seem to inspire students or take curriculum seriously enough IMO. My friends would tell you that a lot of their teachers and classes were a joke.
It was a big adjustment when I switched from my catholic school to the private school. Even though I had always been a good student and did well on standardized tests, I was noticeably behind in math, and was not at all prepared for the amount or the intensity of the work. The private school kids definitely cared more about school and thought it was "cool" to be smart. Amongst the catholic school kids and even more so amongst the public school kids it wasn't "cool" to be smart and school was just some dreadful thing you had to do. When I got to college I was noticeably more prepared. I go to a school that's known for having a heavy workload, and while the rest of the kids in my classes were struggling to adjust (as I think most kids do when they get to college), my first semester of college was honestly easier than my last two years of high school had been. In my freshman writing class I noticed that the writing skills in particular of the public school kids were noticeably behind. There's no question in my mind that I got a vastly better education than I would have at the public school, but there were definitely negative aspects of the private school education as well. I'm glad I didn't go there my whole life even though my elementary education was lacking, because a lot of the students who had gone to private school their whole life had been living in a bubble, couldn't interact with the outside world, and were unbelievably stressed all the time about school because there was immense pressure to get the best grades, the best SAT scores, get into the best college, etc. Not everyone was like this, obviously, but it was a noticeable problem and a result of a lifetime of pressure which started in kindergarten. The public school kids had the opposite problem, though, as even now a lot of them lack direction and ambition because they had never been pushed at all. They were much more apt to deal with the "real world" though, because they had lived far less sheltered, over scheduled, hyper intense lives. Parochial schools are kind of a crap shoot because they are all so different. Mine had a lot of the same problems as the public school, but there are some excellent parochial schools out there. There are better public schools out there as well. It's important to remember also that not all private schools are created the same. They all have different philosophies that don't work for everyone, like Montessori. There are also a lot of private schools out there that aren't up to par.
At the end of the day I think it comes down to the home environment of the student moreso than the school. My parents were born in pretty crappy neighborhoods and went to pretty crappy schools, but my grandparents worked their hardest to instill the value of education in them and to make sure they had a better life. If a kid wanted to learn in the local public school, he could get a fine education. There just had to be someone at home to push him or he had to push himself, because he wasn't going to get a push from his teachers or his peers. Whereas at private school, everybody would push you, but that also resulted in some kids who couldn't do anything for themselves. So even though they have this great education, that's all they have. They can't do anything but do well in school.
All of this being said, if I ever have children they are going to private school, because I don't have a doubt that's where they will get the best education, and I trust myself to make sure they are well rounded and can handle themselves. If I was choosing between Montessori and public school though, I would chose public school, because of the aspects of Montessori that I discussed in my previous post. Just my (very long) two cents.
Also, please no one take offense. I'm generalizing here based off of my personal experiences and I know that this isn't all true of all schools, all teachers, or all students.
Last edited Mar 9, 2013 at 3:11am.
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