Kindergarten and Early Education - Montessori Vs. Traditional

Updated on January 18, 2010
D.M. asks from Littleton, CO
10 answers

My daughter is in pre-school and were are really beginning to consider her primary education path. I really like the concepts I've heard about the Montessori approach including fostering a love of learning by experiencial learning vs. rote methods, and the mixing of ages. My initial thought is to put her in a Montessori school for the first few years, then transfer her over to a more traditional school in 3/4th grade. Not sure if that's a good idea? Any experience out there? Pros? Cons?

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answers from Denver on

Do not have the experience of either yet, since my kids are not school aged yet. However I wold decide on one and stick with it uinless they ask to switch later. By 3/4 grade they are developing freinds and by switching them then they will have to make new friends. Although kdis can make friends easily may be tough to leave the old. Just a thought. Do not know much about Montessori but do they have sports and stuff like the traditional. For me I am hoping my children get into sports for several reasons. ONe being it is good exercise, teaches great teamwork and other valuable leassons. Keeps them out of trouble and chance for college scholarhips.

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answers from Denver on

We have our son in a Montessori pre-k program and will actually keep him in K-6 (a Jeffco charter school). He LOVES it as it is a perfect match for his sense of independence and intellectual exploration. We are so happy with the Montessori model and will send his sister to the same school next year. That said, I have seen, in his classroom, students for whom Montessori has not been a good match.

Montessori is an interesting mix of rules and freedom. The children have freedom to work on what is interesting to them but within that freedom there are a lot of rules to ensure the classroom isn't total chaos.

Good luck with your decision. Most of it depends on the personality of your daughter!



answers from Denver on

I spent countless hours on this subject with my first son. Ultimately in preschool I started with montessori and found it was not a match for us. It just seemed that organization and perfection was taking the fun out of learning, after all they are only 3 and 4. That being said I then looked at some exclusive preschools that were more academically slanted. Again, we did not hit a match, the social side and fun side was being replaced by academia. Finally I enrolled him in a christian-based preschool and could not believe what a great balance of organization, academics, art, music, exercise and spirit. We had found a place where he could enhance his mind, body and soul.

When it came time for kindergarten, I wanted to put him in a private school over in the Lowry area that I had spent a lot of time researching. Right about the time of enrollment I found out I was pregnant and realized that we would be unable to afford two kids in private school (it was going to cost around $2300 per month even in the summer months) so we chose to choice in to a public school.

All was perfect until about 3rd grade when the CSAPs come into play. Education no longer was about the kids, it was about teaching them to pass the test so they could get funding. YIKES! (This subject is a whole other email) Basically, specials, creativity, and social skills are dumped and academics are based only on the test not on what we learned growing up and need as functioning adults.

For 4th grade we have again enrolled him in a Christian-based school and we are back to where education should be. My son is afforded the luxury of learning balance between academics, athletics, creativity, and spirituality (no matter what your religious beliefs are, we all have spirit).

I urge you to make it your focus to find a place where your child can learn to love learning as well and learn to love balance. One thing I wish I would have done is been consistent with the education direction. Although he is in the "gifted" category, I feel we would have been more progressive if we had found the right path first and understood the importance of a well-rounded program.

Good luck and keep up the good work with your kids, you won't regret it. = )



answers from Denver on

My son started in a school that was more like a Montessori from Kinder to second grade. I changed his school to a back to basic traditional school this year (3rd grade) and it has not been a very good transition. He is behind all the other 3rd graders. When I talked to the teacher about how he was once considered to be at the top of his class to now being behind she said that they see this a lot when kids come from montessori's.
Of course every school is different and there are really go montessori school. My advice would be to go to the schools web-site and veiw the test scores and go with your gut on what would best fit your daughter.



answers from Santa Barbara on

I think the Montessori approach is wonderful. It did not work well for my son though, because it was too fluid and not structured enough, which could have been this specific school. The lack of structure made my son anxious, because he didn't know what to expect.
Every kid is different.



answers from Great Falls on

Dena, I have over 20 years of teaching experience (English language and literature, ESL, Arts and Art History - K-12, from beginners to advanced) in public, private, Waldorf school, Montessori school. If you have an option: choose Montssori, and DO NOT TRANSFER her anywhere. Keep her there. They give excellent education in the friensliest family-based-related-friendly caring loving atmosphere as opposed to 'official' and not individual-related public schools. GO MONTESSORI, no doubt. Just recently, I helped in Montessori again, volunteering tutoring for ESL and "reluctant reader" kids: this is so impressive how they teach. now, as to the next step in education: if your daughter will decide to go to College, she will be absolutely prepared by coming from Montessori: they give a solid foundation, and keep their program compatible and related to the State Standards.
I vot for Montessori with both of my hands.
EnJOY the studies! and HAPPY GO-GO to your little student Lily! I wish you success and happy feelings while becoming a lifelong learner!



answers from Pocatello on

I started my education in Montessori school, then public education. I went on to get my teaching degree in early childhood education, and my favorite training was in the Montessori method. When I started teaching, I taught in the public school system, but I brought many of the Montessori ideas into my classroom, as I'm sure other teachers do.
I think Montessori for the early years is a fabulous idea, perhaps asking the school if they can share with you the stories of how other children made the switch into public education.
Or, you might visit your regular school and see if any of the teachers use some Montessori ideas in their classrooms.



answers from Denver on

Not all Montessori schools are created equal! Two types: AMI (if Maria Montessori didn't prescribe it, we don't do it) and AMS (that was Italy, that was then, this is now).

(Note "Montessori" is not a registered/copyrighted name; be sure to check affiliation with AMI or AMS... or they may be using the name just to attract customers!!!)

Since AMI is rigid, but AMS is flexible, we liked AMS better... but there is LOTS of variation from one school to the next. Montessori standards allow for parents to observe classrooms. Watch carefully. Are children busy and industrious... and are they HAPPY??? Pay very close attention to interactions between children and teachers. You should be able to choose which teacher/classroom is right for your child.

Basic Montessori philosophy is that children are born loving to learn... so don't quelch that natural instinct by "unnatural" teaching.

(Visualize a room full of infants, with a teacher in front saying "OK, class, today we are going to learn how to crawl. Everyone, on your hands and knees, now ..." Get the picture?)

It is possible for a child to get behind in Montessori... although they usually get WAY ahead. (My son learned all of the countries in the world... including many I had never heard of... when he was five.) The key here is: pay attention. Interact with your child... interact with the teachers and director.

Not all children are the same. A GOOD Montessori school will adapt to fit the needs of the child. (Traditional classrooms require the children to adapt.) Observe your children: are they visual, auditory and/or kinesthetic learners? Montessori incorporates all three methods.

But not every environment works for every child. If it is not a good fit, it could be that the Montessori method does not work for the child... or (since Montessori should adapt to fit) more likely it is due to the limitations of the specific teacher(s). Not all teachers are good teachers!

A good Montessori education is fantastic. Children LOVE to learn, they take responsibility for themselves, they learn respect of self and others, self-control, independence, good self-esteem... lots of side benefits of the process.

And they usually are miles ahead of their peers in learning the academics. Again, pay attention to your child and your school.

Most Montessori schools are great for K-6. For Middle and High Schools (rare) there are so many other issues that you REALLY have to be careful in selecting, that it's probably better to "mainstream" them into "traditional" schools around 7th grade.

Most kids have no trouble adapting. Cute story: a Middle School student got poor grades initially, because she stopped her homework when she had learned it... she didn't know she had do the ENTIRE homework assignment. In Montessori, when you learn something, you move on to something new!

Most students thrive in Montessori; it's better to keep them in until 6th grade, if possible, because they will probably get very bored having to do work over and over when they know it already. Better to switch them when your school system starts having the students move from class to class, so they can choose classes/levels that will keep them challenged.

Hope there's a GREAT Montessori school in your area!!!


answers from Norfolk on

My son went to a Montessori pre-school and kindergarten and we loved it! Kindergarten was as high as that school went. If they went to higher grades, we would have stayed with them. My son had no trouble switching over to a non Montessori school. We've moved and have no Montessori schools near us right now. Once you try them, you will most likely want to stay with them as long as you can.



answers from Pittsfield on

my son is 5 and just started montessori this year - he loves it! Gone are the fights about going to pre-school, he sees himself as an important member of their community, he feels very independent, and he is learning in a way that suits him and his personality. I will keep him here as long as it works for him. The school and the teachers are warm and encouraging and supportive.

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