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    #58500 - 10/17/09 11:03 AM Is Montessori the answer to gifted education?
    JenSMP Offline

    Registered: 09/06/09
    Posts: 425
    I am currently homeschooling, and it is going very well. The only down side at this point is the lack of social opportunities and the chance to be more physically active. My child is a very social creature, as am I, however, we aren't with friends and family on a weekly basis or anything. So, ds6 spends the majority of his time with adults. He enjoyes being with other children (older than him) so much, and I feel so guilty that he doesn't get the opportunity as often as he and I would like.

    Dh and I have been researching other school options (just pulled him out of a rigid Catholic school), and Montessori seems to be the best fit so far (along with hs). Ds would prefer to continue homeschooling, and I'm enjoying it as well. However, we continue to consider the Montessori school option for social reasons. Also, I think it would do wonders for ds's confidence and independence.

    So, in theory Montessori sure seems to be a good fit for gifted children, but in reality does it work? I'd love to hear others' experiences related to Montessori education for their gifted child. Is homeschool usually a better fit? Much of what I read about giftedness leads me back to homeschooling as the best plan, but I'd love to hear more about Montessori. It's very expensive, and you are locked in for a year's tuition once you begin. I want to be very sure before making any kind of change.

    Thanks for your input!

    #58502 - 10/17/09 11:37 AM Re: Is Montessori the answer to gifted education? [Re: JenSMP]
    BWBShari Offline

    Registered: 10/24/08
    Posts: 1167
    Loc: NM
    We tried Montessori for Pre-K and it didn't work for us. The first school called me in the office after a week and told us that our DS had basically completed everything they had and they weren't sure what to do with him. This was a program that only went through 2nd grade. The second place we tried went through 6th so we knew they wouldn't run out of work. The problem we ran into there was the complete rigidity of the school. They wouldn't let my son move forward without taking every single calculated step in each exercise. DS doesn't work like that. You give him a basic concept and he gets it, he's able to leap forward without doing the incrementals. It drove him crazy!

    If you can find a school that is Montessori based but allows some flexibility, it could work. We always thought that if we could just find the right one, he'd love it. But where we live the choices are limited.

    You might be better off to find social outlets such as homeschool co-ops and clubs like boy scouts.

    Best of Luck!
    Mom to DS 10, DS 11, DS 13
    Ability doesn't make us, Choices do!

    #58507 - 10/17/09 01:01 PM Re: Is Montessori the answer to gifted education? [Re: BWBShari]
    JenSMP Offline

    Registered: 09/06/09
    Posts: 425
    This particular Montessori school seems really wonderful. It goes through 6th grade, and they appear to be fairly flexible and extrememly family oriented. However, the director would like for ds6 to spend some time in the early childhood group (PK3-KG) to get some of the framework for Montessori. I am opposed to that, however, as I know ds would never mix well with that age group. We were there today for a visit. The children played together in one classroom, while the parents learned more about the Montessori process and curriculum. The other parents were new to the school; I was the only one who's still on the fence.

    Ds wanted to know why he had to spend the whole time playing with babies. I think if I pushed it, they'd allow him to go into the 1st-3rd grade room. Right before we left, ds had a meltdown, crying his eyes out because another child broke his leggo creation. Ds said it was a "magnificent building," and he "worked very hard to build it. Oh, why did he have to do that?!" I'm sure they see that and think I'm crazy when I say he doesn't fit with the younger students. He's sooooo sensitive and dramatic. The thing is, when he's with older kids his behavior is more appropriate. Put him with the younger ones, and you see major inattention, breakdowns, etc. I think he just gets bored, frustrated, and stressed in situations where he feels he doesn't fit.

    I am also concerned that he'll quickly move through the curriculum like your son, Shari. If that happens, what then? The tedium of going through every step in a process drives my ds crazy. He, too, seems to just get an entire concept without learning a step by step process. This school seems to focus more on learning broad concepts and allowing the students to explore those processes at their own pace.

    Like anything else, we probably won't know for sure unless we try it. I'm just reluctant to change our current hs situation while it's working. Again, dh and I just want to explore all the options, so if anyone else could share their Montessori experience, I'd really appreciate it!

    #58524 - 10/17/09 04:24 PM Re: Is Montessori the answer to gifted education? [Re: JenSMP]
    sittin pretty Offline

    Registered: 06/06/09
    Posts: 182
    Loc: Sunny AZ
    Warning- like everything I write, this is looooonnnnngggg (Sorry, I can't help myself!)

    Our eldest DS attended a Montessori for two years. As with anything, it had some great aspects and some not-so-great aspects (particularly for gifties). Just for a bit of background, our Montessori was a small, beautiful school that is very well-respected in the area and nationally for Montessori education. It offered toddler, primary and K but no other elementary level classes.

    -The Montessori method believes in the potential in children! (Wow!) They really embrace that children should not be limited by age and instead by ability.
    -A Montessori education encourages the child to be independent and makes learning a self-fulfilling endeavor. (they seek intrinsic not extrinsic rewards)
    -The Montessori method focuses on whole learning. The "work" that the children do in class has purpose! (How often do you hear that about a public school assignment?)
    -Most Montessori schools espouse the behavior expectations that we have but that public schools are unable to enforce. Manners, citizenship, and responsibility are build into the work and constantly expected.
    -Montessori schools, in general, are a pleasant, healthy place to be. They often encourage healthy habits.
    -The Montessori method dictates the exact way in which the "work" is to be done. This is very regimented and exact. Despite the fact that the classroom allows a lot of choice on the type of work that is to be done, the way it is done, is not a choice. This is actually great for some kids and definitely not great for others. (Hence, this is on the pro and con list)
    -Children learn from each other. They are expected to encourage and help each other.
    -Classrooms are multi-age.
    -Schools usually have gardens, animals and home-like atmospheres. They are warm and comforting.
    -The classroom is designed for children. They work on the floor or standing. The materials are designed for children's fingers not small adult hands.
    -Music and art are an important part of the curriculum.

    -There a several different accrediting bodies for Montessori schools so it is hard to "measure" their level of Montessori-ness.
    -The Montessori method dictates the exact way in which the "work" is to be done. This is very regimented and exact. Despite the fact that the classroom allows a lot of choice on the type of work that is to be done, the way it is done, is not a choice. This is actually great for some kids and definitely not great for others. (Hence, this is on the pro and con list)
    -The "work" often requires a lot of manual dexterity so children need to have good fine motor skills to progress with the work intellectually. (This was a big issue for our non-so-coordinated DS)
    -As with any school, a gifted child's intellectual needs may outpace the curriculum/materials available in a classroom or school. (Another big issue for our DS)
    -The Montessori method believes that a child should be well-rounded in their abilities so if a child is grossly asynchronous, it indicates to them some level of discord in the child's life. They work to balance the child. (Keep in mind, most of Maria Montessori's research subjects were orphans in very impoverished areas of India. They suffered abuse, starvation, and horrid living conditions prior to being put in her care. Nevertheless, again another issue for DS)
    -The Montessori method allows for a lot of independence but not necessarily a lot of creativity. Creative children may be stifled because they don't fit the desired norm.
    -The Montessori method views "square pegs" as pegs that desire to be round. With enough work, they too can become round pegs and fit into the round hole.
    -Montessori schools can be "soft" in their discipline strategies because they believe natural consequences will yield the desired behavior.

    Other stuff to be aware of:
    -Teachers exist to be a model/guide to the students. In an "ideal" situation (per Montessori standards), a teacher rarely speaks but instead just observes.
    -All classrooms feature a variety of areas (i.e. subjects) for work, including Practical Life. Don't be surprised if your DC spends his afternoon sweeping, washing windows or making orange juice! Also, don't be surprised if your 5 year old is working with decimals and division.
    -Children choose their own work. Each teacher/school will have a policy about how much they help to guide the child's choices. Some will not guide at all (just like unschooling), others will guide or require that the child completes some work.
    -During work time, a Montessori classroom may appear chaotic. Typically, it is a controlled chaos (you should never see children running or yelling) since you have 30 children each doing their own thing. The classrooms can be loud and distracting for a sensitive child.
    -Some Montessori schools will have some formal lessons to the group, others will not.
    -The Montessori method does not mesh well with the standard educational model in the U.S. so a true Montessori student will face a major transition when leaving a Montessori school (i.e. learning to sit in a desk, not having choices, taking tests, etc.). Some non-traditional Montessori schools have some "transition" models that they follow to help a child acclimate to the non-Montessori version of education.
    -Students entering a Montessori classroom for the first time (with other, established students) will need a considerable amount of time to adjust, learn the work and expectations. (Jen, this is why they want your DS in the younger class for a while)

    Having read all of Maria Montessori's books available in English, I LOVE the concept of a Montessori education. I don't think the concept entirely translates into real life/real classrooms. We had a rough 6 months while DS adjusted to the method, a fabulous 12 months where DS blossomed followed by another rough 6 months where DS was bored and miserable.

    Hope all this makes sense and hope it helped. Believe it or not, I actually tried to make this concise. So many other stories I could have shared . . . smile
    Mom to DYS-DS6 & DS3

    #58529 - 10/17/09 05:20 PM Re: Is Montessori the answer to gifted education? [Re: sittin pretty]
    Belle Offline

    Registered: 03/15/08
    Posts: 435
    Gotta agree with everything every one has posted so far...DS6 attended a Montessori preschool from age 2-5. As he got into the 3-5 yr old mixed classroom our problems started to go through the roof...he moved through the curriculum like lightning and was bored out of his mind...his teacher wouldn't let him advance until he showed each and every individual/single step in the activity- Montessori can be very rigid in this fact. A lot of gifted children aren't able to break down how they got to a certain answer - it just comes to them so it was difficult to explain how he broke down the steps. He has dyspraxia and it was difficult when he was younger to carry the required Montessori trays that they carry their work on down onto their work rugs. He would drop them or drop things off the tray and the teacher would focus on that and not the activity - he wasn't allowed to move on until he showed her that he could carry the items to the work area which was insane to me. She kept holding activities back from him so that she wouldn't run out of curriculum for him to do and he was bored, bored, bored which lead to a ton of issues. The thing that alarmed us the most at his Montessori school was just as the last poster stated...when they saw a child who was "uneven" they did everything in their power to "balance" them out. The old square peg and trying to shove them into a round hole...."ain't going to work" in my eyes! My son would get in trouble because with their earlier activities they included such things as taking 2 dishes with a spoon or scoop and some kind of colored sand/rice/material and the child was expected to spoon the item from one dish to another dish without dropping the material all over the place. My son instead made up games when he was doing his scooping such as pretending to make "special recipes" with giving different amount of scoops for different materials and his teacher would get upset at him and tell him to just spoon the material over to the other bowl. Another time he was completing a map assignment and they are required to color in different map pictures specific colors that match the Montessori puzzles of that continent. He got in trouble because he colored the "wrong" colors on some of the countries...when the teacher asked him why he did those particular colors he honestly had good answers as to why but in her mind the work was wrong because it didn't match the puzzle.

    I did a lot of researching on Montessori and if you find a true Montessori program that is flexible then it could be an amazing fit...unfortunately we looked at the 2 Montessori elementary school choices around us and neither are what I would consider true Montessori. I can understand why they want him in the younger class to learn the "basics" for a short period of time...Montessori is all about steps and moving up through steps...if he was to go into a Montessori elementary program not ever having been in a Montessori prek/K program then he will not understand how to handle a lot of the materials the correct way. Some Montessori elementary programs won't take a child unless they have had some prek/K/preschool experience with Montessori since it can be so different from what a child is used to doing.

    Edited by Belle (10/17/09 05:29 PM)

    #58530 - 10/17/09 05:33 PM Re: Is Montessori the answer to gifted education? [Re: sittin pretty]
    Kriston Offline

    Registered: 09/19/07
    Posts: 6145
    Loc: Midwest
    We had trouble because the Montessori preschool DS8 went to at age 4 refused to place him ahead on the curriculum. The moving through steps thing can be a problem if your child is already past those steps.

    I told them he was reading well, gave examples of what he was reading, and they nodded and said all the right things...then ignored them completely. Before we put him in the school, I even specifically asked if he had to jump through all the hoops he was past doing--because I KNEW he would refuse!--and they said no. They didn't tell me the truth!

    I asked about books, talked to the teachers about it regularly. They smiled and nodded and ignored me. For months!

    Well, before our January conference, they sent home a note that indicated that DS had TROUBLE with pre-reading because he never spent any time in the language arts area. crazy mad cry That was the last straw!

    At the conference, DH told them STRONGLY to change their ways. They finally listened to him. (Frustrating!) They agreed (quite unhappily) to skip one step in the LA progression with DS and see how it went.

    DS did a week's worth of LA work in a day or two, and they FINALLY got the message. (It was stuff he could do when he was 18mos. old, so I was not surprised that he blew through it.)

    After that, things improved. He became the only kid in the school who was allowed to read a book once and have it checked off. So I felt like they understood that he really could read quite well, and they gave him things that challenged him better, so it all worked out. But it was a rough semester getting them to see him for what he was.

    The moral of the story, I think, is that some teachers get it and some don't. I think the overarching philosophy of the school matters less than the teacher and whether she gets it or not. If they resist placing him where you think he needs to be, it could be a bad sign. Be wary.

    Remember that they can tell you anything they want to get you in the door. If you worry that they might not deliver--as my "mom gut" had me worrying--that's a good sign that they might not. Trust yourself.
    Mom to DS13 and DS10

    #58531 - 10/17/09 05:57 PM Re: Is Montessori the answer to gifted education? [Re: Kriston]
    JenSMP Offline

    Registered: 09/06/09
    Posts: 425
    Thank you guys! I love the Montessori concept so much and could see how it would work really well if only they were experienced with educating gifted children. I think I'm going to take them up on all of their observation visits, get some ideas, and use them at home while I hs!

    I learned so much today, but I kept thinking, "oh, that would drive ds nuts!" Most of those times I was thinking that the elementary classroom would be a better fit. My son is very sensitive (like many here) to being expected to do "baby work." It's insulting to him. The teachers are also very syrupy sweet and speak that way all the time, and I could see my ds thinking that's ridiculous. He doesn't like baby talk, and it sort of comes off as condescending. Having a coversation with him is like talking to an another adult most of the time.

    He would abolutely love the independence and the ability to move around the room and talk as needed. He thinks aloud. I didn't realize they were so rigid with the step-by-step processes, though. I think my ds would have a hard time with that. He'd lose interest very quickly, and I don't want a repeat of what we just went through. I sure don't want to get locked in to paying thousands of dollars for something that has a high likelihood of not working.

    Montessori is fascinating to me though b/c I've never seen this type of setting. All of my experience is with traditional public or private schools, and those are definitely not a good fit for my ds. Part of my problem is that I (even more than my ds) am missing the social connection of the other school, not to mention my job! I really need to find a way to connect with others though a homeschool coop or something similar, but that is so far from something I'd normally join. Of course, I also said I'd never homeschool, right? ; )

    Thanks again for all for the advice and for sharing your experiences. I LOVE this forum!

    #58534 - 10/17/09 06:13 PM Re: Is Montessori the answer to gifted education? [Re: Kriston]
    LMom Offline

    Registered: 12/14/07
    Posts: 902
    Montessori is how we ended up on this board, DYS, and finally homeschooling. DS7 went there for K and it didn't work.

    I must give the teachers some credit. They did told me within a week or two that they had never had a child like him. They also told me that the school wasn't for him. They meant it. The director disagreed though. She never really got it.

    They did try, but honestly they did't know what to do. He was taught long division in K and then the teacher jumped from one topic to another without knowing what to do next. He got 2nd grade geography workbook, 2nd grade LA but then they still let him go through spelling cat, hat and other ridiculous words. All that done, it just wasn't enough.

    I also got the pushy parent talk, which made us get him tested just to prove that we weren't crazy. They couldn't understand how come he could spell so well but his handwriting was so poor (his handwriting was age appropriate). By October I had a very angry child at home and had no idea why he was acting that way. In November he asked to be homeschooled, much to my shock.

    Socially it didn't work at all. The group was too small, there were only 2 other girls in K and one other boy. The rest of the kids were in PreK. He didn't make friends there and I don't blame him. You need to realize that most of the activities are individual. The kids didn't even have snack together! There are not too many things the kids get to do together.

    I could go on and on. The bottom line Montessori wasn't the answer for us.

    We homeschool but DS5 and DS7 attend a small private school 2 afternoons per week. They have friends there, get to socialize on regular basis and I get a break. We did the same thing last year and it worked quite well. Would something like that be an option?

    #58537 - 10/17/09 06:20 PM Re: Is Montessori the answer to gifted education? [Re: LMom]
    JenSMP Offline

    Registered: 09/06/09
    Posts: 425
    LMom-We are likely going to take ds6 to a small private school for one or two afternoons a week for art and science classes. The thing is, most of the kids are older than my son. I'm not sure if that matters, but I'd really like it if they were a little closer to his age. I think there is one 7 year old, and the rest are much older. We are continuing to look for other schools that have the part time option. I'd like to have the best of both worlds if we can find it. Thanks!

    #58538 - 10/17/09 06:23 PM Re: Is Montessori the answer to gifted education? [Re: LMom]
    Belle Offline

    Registered: 03/15/08
    Posts: 435
    I also was in love with the Montessori is such an AWESOME idea and done the right way could be such a great fit for gifted students. My husband used to laugh at me last year....I had looked at adding Montessori to my teaching certification because I had done so much research and just loved the whole idea....if we had enough money we would open up a private Montessori school for gifted and high achieving children. We really, really wanted it to be a good fit for our son but it just didn't turn out that way. We are on our 2nd year of homeschooling and we do combine some montessori lessons into our homeschooling curriculum...there are a lot of sites out there and videos you can find on the web showing how to adapt the lessons into homeschooling. For socializing, there are so many ways you can find things that allow your homeschooler to be able to be around others during the you have any local or near zoo's, science museums, art museums? Many of these places offer homeschooling classes during the month. If you also do some websearches in your area you might be able to find some homeschool support groups that meet during the week to complete activities together :-) My little guy is more socially active than he has ever been in his whole life over the past 2 months of homeschooling :-)

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