Friday, March 13, 2009
The Montessori School Visit
Our visit to the potential school went really, really well. It truly was a night for existing parents and only a few of the families attending were prospective parents. If you are unfamiliar with Montessori, you can read some of the information for parents provided on the Montessori.org site. I did have a moment of panic, feeling overwhelmed, anxious. I'd been handling it all really well. And I can't even tell you what it was the directress said that made me all fluttery. It had nothing to do with the school or the program... it was just this big reality of my baby being part of this kind of program. Concern over how she will transition into it... how she will take to it, if she will like it. So the next steps appear to be to come in for a daytime tour and classroom observation (there are mirrored windows so adults can see into the rooms without disrupting the activities). And then Teagan gets to come in and meet the directresses, see the school, and we'd see if she's a good fit. *** The Montessori classroom has 4 areas. Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, and Mathematics. Also incorporated is Geography/Cultural Subjects. Practical Life encourages care of self and environment. In this area, kids learn to fill water glasses, clean tables, fold laundry, and other tasks that they see performed at home. A recommendation for incorporating this into the home environment is making certain that objects a child needs to take care of their own tasks are at their level- such as dishes, cups, silverware, snacks. Sensorial focuses on the child's 5 senses and encourage control of movement. One demonstration showed to us by another parent was a cube with a variety of sizes and colors of blocks inside it. The picture on top indicated how the cube should look when complete. The child then fills in the cube with the blocks- there isn't one specific way the blocks fit so the child has a lot of options to make the top of the cube look like the picture. This also, apparently, teaches algebraic thinking. The Language Area focuses on the spoken and written word. Montessori children are taught cursive instead of printing as it is natural for a child to want to draw curved shapes. The alphabet is taught phonetically. Children are also encouraged to use proper names for things, instead of nicknames or made up words. Mathematics first teaches 1 through 10 and the concept of zero and then moves into the base 10 system. From there, children learn addition, subtraction, and then multiplication and sometimes they even learn division. We saw work stations that teach fractions, addition facts, and so on. The Geography and Cultural Subjects include map puzzles of different continents and their countries, globes, flash cards with information about various cultures. The main purpose is to expose the child to different cultures. *** Jeff and I were both impressed with the cultural diversity in the small group of parents present. A German grandmother and mother, an Asian dad, a British dad, an Indian mom. *** Another important element of the Montessori classroom is that it is a mixed age environment. Teagan's class would be ages 3-5. She is good at being in a leadership or mentor role as she is the oldest in her current daycare situation. She needs more exposure to older children as peers. *** My mind isn't made up. I want to visit a "regular" preschool. There is one near our house that our daycare provider recommends. Just because I have a deep respect for Montessori doesn't mean it is exactly right for Teagan... but I'm pretty sure it is. *** Oh! The other thing that was exciting, for me, was hearing a lot of the same language that I use when I talk about parenting. Personal responsibility, self-sufficiency, choice. Main tenets of the Montessori philosophy. *** So the visit was a good one. On the way home, we stopped and picked up Teagan's bike for her big birthday present. Just have to get her a helmet and she's good to go. Also got her a basket for the front of the bike- every girl needs a basket on her first bike! Someday I'll share the story of me and learning to ride and having my first bike (a yellow hand me down that I adored) when I was 8 or 9 years old, I think. This morning, after being awake about an hour, Teagan suddenly began complaining that her ear hurt and is having trouble turning her head to the right. I think it may be a pinched nerve. Jeff is taking her to the doctor this morning... hopefully she won't be miserable all weekend- that is not a fun way to celebrate your birthday! I will say that her dealing with this new pain sensation, while pathetic and miserable, has been adorable, too. She is very worried that "something is wrong with my bones! I don't want my bones to be bad!" And in the midst of some of the whimpering and holding, a confession came out... while with Pop-Pop last night, she ate a lot of candy! And now it's hurting her ear! Poor thing, feeling guilty for it... and bad parents, we didn't correct her! We didn't agree with her, either, so maybe there is some redemption for us? And I'm still slammed at work but couldn't neglect my bloggy buddies another day... but now really must get my nose back to this grindstone over here. Ouch! UPDATE: Teagan has an ear infection, as does Jeff. Both are on Augmentin. Fun. Teagan seemed to be feeling much ebtter and wasn't in tears over the pain so Tylenol must be helping.