Pros or Cons of Montessori Schools

Updated on April 25, 2009
M.T. asks from Beaver, PA
11 answers

We're looking into a Montessori School for my daughter. I've been doing a lot of reading about them and visited one. I love their concept, but they are so expensive. We're starting at the preschool level. She's a little thing, is very outgoing, but gets her feelings hurt very easily. She is bright, and very loving and kind to others. I know the concept is to help them become more independant and help with their self-esteem, and other social skills. She is 3, and will be 4 in July. She's in a two-day preschool program already, but I never found out about the Montessori Schools until January.
We're going to hold her back a year because of her summer birthday. Because right now the kids in her class have 6-9 months on her. Thanks for your help.

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answers from Allentown on

What does her school say about how she is doing? If she ok then don't hold her back. Let her go on with the 4 year olds.

When it comes to kindergarten, then you can make a decision whether she is socially ready for kindergarten. Kids change quickly. Not all the kids at far ahead of her, there will be kids born in August as well.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Below is my response to a similar question in Nov. Email me for any more questions, I'd be happy to help.

My son went to a Montessori toddler program. I decided not to enroll him into the preschool. In my opinion, there are good things and some not so good things about Montessori.
I liked their I guess "mission statement", it is to teach the child to love to learn at an early age.
The principal behind most of their learning toys/ tools are teaching the child reading and math "left to right top to bottom". For instance, if you ever seen an abacus, that is a Montessori tool in teaching counting, math, left to right top to bottom just like reading.
Also the child learn at his/her own pace. They treat each kid the same. It didn't seem to me that they recognize/promote advanced kids which I guess is nice for average and below average kids but what about the above average kids? No chance to shine? I only mention that part bc you said that you have a goal for your child to be in the gifted program by kindergarten. Now, don't quote me on this but, I don't believe they even start gifted programs until 2nd or 3rd grade at most schools.
Some of the things I personally didn't care for are that its 5 days a week and there are 3-5 (sometimes even 6yr olds) in the same class. I also thought that the cost was ridiculous.
As I said I turned out sending my child to a regular preschool but have incorporated some Montessori principles in our home. You can buy stuff online. Some people even home school Montessori style.
Finally, another thing I did't care for was that I couldn't help but to feel like the whole thing was a huge sales pitch bc they start off saying how their main focus is preschool but then they get you hooked all the way up until 8th grade ?!?!
Hope this helps, its just my opinion.



answers from Philadelphia on

I went to Montessori 30 yrs ago, my oldest son (now in 1st grade) and my youngest son (1st yr preschool) have both attended Montessori school.

My oldest son did wonderful there. He's now in 1st grade and in the top reading level there. He's also doing well in all his other subjects, he just got an award for deligence in studies. I like Montessori because it lets children figure it out on their own. They also encourage peer help. The other children are also teachers. They keep ages 3 to 5 in the same class and they support each other.

The teacher also takes time with each individual child to direct them to other choices, so that they are exposed to everything. So I must disagree with a previous poster that they don't get exposed to other things.

It is expensive, and every school is different. I feel it is worth it because other preschools my friend's children have gone to will put the kids infront of a tv during the day! I can do that! Or they are off all the time.

So my suggestion is to visit a ton of schools, decide which on *you* feel good sending your child too whether it is Montessori or not.

Oh, and my older son went to Montessori kindergarden, and my youngest will probably go to the Catholic School kindergarden where he will go to 1st grade when he is ready. Its easier to make friends at kindergarden than 1st grade. 1st grade was a little difficult to transistion to when you don't know anyone.



answers from York on

We are homeschooling using the Montessori materials. My two year old knows her numbers to twenty, her alphabet and her motor skills are developing rapidly. I also have an almost 4 year old who is starting to read and does division. She will be 4 June 30th. It definitely helps with self-esteem by helping them to be self-sufficent. As the other poster said, there isn't a lot of socialization going on as the work is largely independent. Also, they don't allow imaginative play, like playing house or pretend play, like pretending colored pencils are talking to each other (like my 3 year old likes to do). I would suggest visiting a classroom to see if you think it would be a good fit.



answers from Erie on

The problem with school in general is that kids are most inquisitive before age 6, and then when they land in the school system, a whole bunch of that seems to get programmed out. In addition, they have to learn what someone ELSE thinks they should learn, and they have to do it during the right time slot.

Montessori schools are very good, but they do push your child, and there's a certain amount of pressure. Your child will learn a whole lot, but then what ? Does she go back to public school after that ? If so, she'll be bored and ahead of the curve. That's not bad, necessarily, but be prepared for that.

Also, I have two daughters, both born on August 2nd. The older of the two was tested in a very fussy and well run elementary school, (public, amazingly), and they suggested we hold her back a year, not due to her cognitive abilities, but due to her maturity issues. I've NEVER regretted it. . . .Her youngest sibling was in a different school district for kindergarten, and while I didn't expect them to say she was "ready" for kindergarten, they said she was 100% ready. I can't tell you how many times I've wished I hadn't listened to them. She's in 8th grade now, and I am just beginning to stop kicking myself for not giving her that one last year at home to mature and not be the youngest in her class.

Whatever you DO decide to do, know that a smart child will learn whatever she needs to know to succeed, whether she goes to pre-school, or whether she starts her educational programming in kindergarten. My oldest went to pre-school at age 3, partly because she was being babysat in someone's home and I thought the extra stimulation would be good for her twice a week. The other 3 never did, mostly due to money issues. I have 4 smart and successful kids, one of them competed her way into a magnet school, and is near the top of her class there -- without ANY pre-school or special programs.

I think the biggest help to our children's success is that their parents love them consistently, and LISTEN to them, so they are heard, and encourage them to make wise decisions (within their scopes). Pick the school YOU like best, that has the people YOU feel most comfortable having care for and nurture your child. And don't be afraid to lobby for your child, or to visit the school or ask questions if you have any concerns. You're paying for this, and you are the customer. And if you don't feel you've made the right choice, don't be afraid to make a change. Weigh the options and what the results will be, and then do your best. That's the best we can do. :-)



answers from Philadelphia on

All school philosophies have pros and cons, strengths and weaknesses, so the issue isn't whether or not Montessori is a good choice, but whether Montessori is a good fit for your daughter?

This depends on her personality. If she is natually inquisitive and curious, self-motivated and confident enough to choose her own activities and explore the many options around her, then Montessori might be a great fit for her. She may enjoy the freedom to choose her own activities, etc.

In my almost 20 years of teaching, and working with a wide variety of children with a wide margin of skills, personalities and natural abilities, I'd say that the MINORITY of children fall into this category. For the children who do, I am glad that Montessori schools and other options of this type exist.

Most children, however, gravitate toward things they know and already like, and won't choose to try new things. For example, if she already knows that she likes to play with dolls, she may spend her entire day playing with dolls and never explore the learning stations set up for science experiments or counting, for example. In my experience, sometimes you have to lead a child to try something, and sometimes they don't like it initially, but after some perseverence, decide it isn't so bad after all.

I can't count the number of times in my career that I have taught a class and the kids came to me initially and said something along the lines of, "I don't like science, or reading, or math (take your pick)" But by the middle to the end of the year have decided that they actually DO like that subject after all! It sometimes takes a little patience and tenacity and persistence to continue to pursue something difficult for us, and EVERYONE has something that is difficult for them to do. And most children I have known will not CHOOSE to persist in a difficult activity. If it is too hard, and they have the choice not to pursue it, they most likely won't.

So, I guess that is my main problem with schools that operate under the Montessori model. It is all fine and wonderful to assert that they give the children the choice to choose their activities, and that children are natural learners and that we can trust them to pursue their education at their own pace, and for SOME children, that is true. For MOST children, that is true only in the areas of their strengths or tendencies. To be truly educated, we also need to work in our areas of weakness and difficulty and to gain competence and confidence in those areas, too. And learning to overcome an obstacle is very valuable for our self-esteem and future success.

My conclusion is then to decide if your daughter would choose to explore all of the options around her, even the difficult or uninteresting (to her) ones, and pursue them with enough tenacity to gain some benefit from it. If so, then by all means, she is a great fit for the Montessori method. But if you know that she will find the few activities that she likes and is comfortable with, and will likely ignore the other options just because she can, then a more traditional model of schooling will be in her best interest. That way, she will be introduced to all kinds of things, even things she would not choose for herself, and may even find out that she likes or is good at something she didn't know about before.

That's my 2 cents,

If it is okay with you that your daughter



answers from Pittsburgh on

Don't know much about Mon. Schools - but

Honestly don't hold her back because of her summer birthday.
My baby turned 5 a week before school started and did just fine. She is a Junior in High school this year and has a 3.76 GPA, is dual enrolled at Penn State University. Our problem is - 95 % of her friends are Seniors and graduating, and she'll be alone next school year because they will all be in college by then.
She's more mature than most of the 11th graders and always has been for her age. She'll turn 18 the day she starts college - but thats alright with her. Don't hold your child back a whole year because of a summer birthday. It is okay to be the youngst one in the class (or close to it). As long as you feel she is ready for Kindergarten emotional and she has normal learning abilities there won't be any problem. Look at it this way - if she goes and can't handle it - you can always pull her out for another year if she's not ready. Give her the chance! Chances are - she will be great!

R. Sines-C.



answers from Philadelphia on

My son goes to a Montessori school and we absolutely love it. His school is the Children's House of Bucks County in Fairless Hills. One thing I will say after reading the other posts is that each school is different...some claim to use the Montessori teaching method but are not true Montessorians. Our son was advanced as a toddler so we were looking for something that would allow him to excel. We are so glad we chose Montessori. We had to make many sacrifices to keep our son in Montessori but he's now in 3rd grade and doing great.

They teach the children a sense of independence, a sense of community, how to get along with others, and they allow each child to excel at what they are interested in. They are working independently but they also help each other, older children teach younger children lessons, and they have group meetings throughout the day where they share ideas and express themselves. My son was so excited at the age of 4 when he got to give a lesson to a 3 yr old...he felt so empowered.

I can't say enough about it. My son is still advanced and he still loves learning. Montessori does have it's main focus on preschool because children learn so much before the age of 5 but it is so worth it to keep them there if you can. Our intention was to get our son prepared for kindergarten and then put him in public school but we loved it so much that he stayed. If you would like to know more feel free to PM me.



answers from Philadelphia on

2 of my 3 boys went to Montessori school and I have mixed feelings about it. I think you have to plan long term for your educational goals for your child before you decide on Montessori (I wish I had more insight at the time!!). For pre school, I don't think the cost is worth it!! It's just pre school! I could kick myself now for spending that kind of money for my 2 older boys to go to Montessori for pre school. Needless to say, I won't be sending my 3rd or my upcoming birth of my 4th child, to Montessori for a couple of reasons. #1) I don't think the expense is worth what you are getting (I'm referring to pre school not higher grades), #2) My long term plan for their education is Catholic school #3) With my older boys, I certainly did not see any difference in their knowledge from Montessori school to the Catholic school they go to now....meaning Montessori didn't make them any smarter they just use a different method to teach the children. I actually couldn't wait for the day my boys would enter Catholic school because I would be saving on tuition by at least a few thousand dollars! I think the Montessori concept is good if you plan on keeping your child in the Montessori program long term or if you plan to home school. Other than that, if you decide to do Montessori for pre school, the biggest transitional problem to "mainstream" school is the children can't "do what they want when they want" and there's definitely more structure in the mainstream school environment. The bottom line for me is that I don't think they got any more out of Montessori school than they would have had a "mainstream" pre school and the cost for Montessori is AT LEAST double what it would've cost to send them to any other pre school. As always, it's definitely a personal choice. Really think about what your long term educational goals are for your child......that'll definitely help with your decision. Good luck!!!!



answers from Harrisburg on

Short response. . .I sent my son to just one year at a Montessori school and thats how we learned it just wasn't for him, he needed set boundaries and structure. I thought he would do so well in that type of system. (wish my mom had found them when I was in school!)



answers from Erie on

I don't have any info for you. I have always wanted to visit a montessori school but i've never had the chance.
What surpised me about your question was that Montessori would help her with "independance,self-esteem, and social skills" I've heard that the program is very inpendant and probably promots self-esteem, I've never heard the social aspect of it promoted before. Do the kids interact with each other alot?? I thought they did their "work jobs" independantly so they could work at their own pace.
Just curious, I'll be watching your responses so i can learn more about it too.

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