Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Staying Another Year At Montessori Preschool Instead of Public Kindergarten?

Two more public school visits to go. Had to postpone one visit because I've been sick lately with the cold from hell. Why is it my kids can get over a cold in 48 hours but it takes me at least a week? Bleh.

I've been thinking that the path of least resistance might be to simply have DS stay another year in the excellent, small bilingual Montessori preschool for kids ages 3-6 he currently attends. The pros/cons to staying where he is look like this--

The Pros:

  • He's been so happy there for a year and a half now - it's a known quantity.
  • We all love it. (And I'm a tough critic, so that's saying a lot.)
  • The curriculum is challenging enough for him.
  • He's never bored there because they're always looking for signs of disengagement and then immediately taking action.
  • Easiest logistics in terms of kids attending one school, with workable drop off/pick up times.
  • It's affordable.
  • This will be his final chance to get a Montessori education locally.
  • Another lice-free year for our family. There's a good chance my kids will eventually get lice in public school because pretty much everyone here does at some point (not judging, just stating the facts ma'am). But then again, he could get something preventable like Pertussis, of course! And not that there's anything wrong with getting lice except it is a huge pain in the arse to treat it, and I suspect I will bear the brunt of it because my office is at my house.
  • No bullies/abuse.
  • Can keep learning Spanish.
  • Can continue to learn at own pace and love learning.

The Cons:

  • DS will probably be the oldest kid in the school next year (which is what happens when a kid has an Oct birthday, with an Aug 31 school cut off)
  • In the absence of older kids, I have a nagging feeling he'll be missing out on building some social skills - though I can't quite articulate what specific skills I'm thinking of... hmm...
  • He naturally clicks with kids who are 2 years older than him, and he's the same size as most 7-year-olds even though he's 5. So he'll really look bigger than the other kids, but will he care?
  • There's the notion folks around here believe that Montessori sometimes "ruins kids for public school" - as if they are so thrilled about learning and are curious and ahead of grade level that they simply can't fit in when it's time for public school. Quite an indictment of our local public schools if you ask me. Eventually, there's nowhere else for kids to get educated locally except public school or homeschool (or a combo of the 2). Yes, there are religious schools but trust me, they are out of the question, and anyway they are no good academically (unlike parochial schools in bigger cities).
  • The Spanish learning at Montessori is not immersion, meaning his spoken Spanish probably won't develop as quickly as it would if he were to attend the Spanish-literacy public K, we think (hard to assess).
  • Possible harder transition to public first grade as a 6.5 year old?

Your thoughts?


Anonymous said...

My sister did Montessori K and went to public first after that. We were *planning* on doing that with our DC1, but he outgrew the 3-6 year room at age 4. It sounds like your kid isn't having that trouble.

hush said...

@nicoleandmaggie - Yes, he started there at 3.5 and has not outgrown the school yet, luckily. There was also a profoundly-gifted 6-year-old who attended there last year when she was already reading and doing math at a 4th grade level for whom the school was a perfect fit (she's being homeschooled now). Her mom swears this school is the only real local elementary option for gifted kids (though my son is not nearly as gifted as her daughter, so it is less of a concern).

Anonymous said...

Our second choice school if the private school dies is a K-6 Montessori. It had me drooling over their old-school new-math curriculum.

hush said...

I need to read up on elementary math curricula (I bet the search box on your blog would be a great place for me to start). Singapore math is supposed to be awesome.

This is totally how life is: so I just emailed the mom of the profoundly-gifted now 7-year-old to say hello; turns out she is opening a Montessori elementary school this fall (she also runs a local tutoring business and is herself a licensed teacher). Wow - I think I may have stumbled upon the answer to our school concerns.

Anonymous said...

Wow! That does sound awesome.

I'm not sure if I've posted much on elementary math. I did send something pretty lengthy to DC1's friend's mom when she was complaining about DC1's school's math (not realizing they were ahead of the public schools and that all of the major curricula have repetition, though it is true that Saxon is especially repetitious).

We LOVE Singapore. DC1 does it on weekends and over the summer and I am so impressed with the sneaky ways they teach math understanding. Not just rote memorization, but learning different ways to do things in a way that will lead to aha!s later on. The Montessori we looked at does Singapore for half their math curriculum (manipulables for the other half).

DC1 is just about old enough for Math for Smarty Pants, so I've put his copy where he can easily discover it. (Though MIL sent a Star Wars encyclopedia for V-day, so it may be a while.) I can't wait until he's old enough for Martin Gardner. He has so much math awesomeness ahead of him!

Got It, Ma! said...

Pardon the tangent, but I have to share this with you because it seems like your horror of head lice in on par with mine.

The mom of one of my daughter's friends has turned me on to this line of hair care products called Fairy Tales that work to repel lice. Nothing creepy about them, just natural essential oils of rosemary and other herbs that are unpleasant to the nasty little critters. They smell a bit strong, but not at all unpleasant, and the smell fades like most shampoos and conditioners.

My favorite product is the leave in conditioner/detangler spray that you can spritz on each morning. It has worked beautifully so far on my daughter's extremely long, long hair. You can find it at salons that focus on kids or, like everything else, on Amazon.

You may return now to your discussion of important educational stuff.

NoTrustFund said...

My kids are a little younger than yours, with my oldest only 3, but we have them in a montessori influenced day care right now. They spend a lot of time talking about the importance of the 'kindergarten' year, being the culmination of children's house.

We have gotten to love Montessori so much we are hoping to get into a Montessori school that goes through grade school, but we are still in the early stages of that process.

I've heard of another natural lice product called Ladibugs. But hopefully you won't need it (and neither will we!)

Jac. said...

We were in your shoes last year and opted to leave DS in his Montessori school for kindergarten. It's worked out well. We're considering our options for Grade 1 and are leaning to the local Catholic school. I don't have any worries (now) about DS integrating at the Grade 1 level (I had plenty of worries last year when Kindergarten just seemed like a HUGE decision).

One thing missing on your pro-list, Montessori pedagogy promotes a three year cycle of learning in mixed age groups. In completing the cycle, kids have the opportunity to be the youngest, middle, and oldest in relation to the other kids - it's a great learning opportunity for the older kids to have leadership opportunities in relation to the younger kids.

Lisa @ Trapped In North Jersey said...

You have a wealth of options, they all sound pretty good. I'm keeping my 5 year old in Montessori for as long as we can afford it (it goes up to third grade). Our school is great academically but more importantly, has a very strict nut policy and works with my son's food allergies, and I feel much safer with him there than in our (supposedly excellent but could not give a shit about food allergies) public school. Of course, this info is of no use to your situation :-)

Although--our lice horror story did originate at Montessori.

Cloud said...

When we were visiting schools to make our kindergarten choice, there were some parents who were looking for first grade, having kept their kid in a Montessori or other private kindergarten. So at least around here, that option isn't so unusual that it would lead to problems.

Beyond that, I have nothing. School choices are hard!

Anonymous said...

sounds like both are good options. Which is the most nurturing, self esteme building option? Dont worry about the educational aspects they all catch up by 3rd grade. If your child feels loved and confident and is comfortable at school they will learn well.

Anonymous said...

"Dont worry about the educational aspects they all catch up by 3rd grade."

Spoken as somebody who has never had experience with gifted kids.

Anonymous said...

Our kids did montessori for pre-k, until they were about 5.5. The school worked fine for them and then they were fine in the local school for gifted children, with an inquiry based program.

Kindergarten was a bit of a transition for both of them, because they had to learn to have their schedule set by the teacher (i.e. when they do math, science, etc.). But montessori fit well with the inquiry style of teaching, so the transition was short.

And, for the "they catch up", I would say that it's true in the sense that the gifted kids who read in pre-K and the gifted kids who read in K (or even 1st) catch up (and, I speak from practical knowledge. My highly verbally gifted kids didn't read until K, but they learned rapidly in K; other kids in our gifted school came reading in pre-K, and others didn't learn to read fluently until late in 1st grade). Now, they're in sixth grade. My K reader is probably the most advanced reader/writer of the bunch, but the others are not far behind.

Mind you, though, I'm talking about a gifted cohort; kids who are struggling with reading might not catch up, and more importantly, might need intervention to catch up. I don't think teaching "early" matters unless the kid is desiring the early teaching (i.e., by all means a kid who wants to read/multiply/do algebra) should be given the opportunity, but if they're not clamoring for it, there's no reason to assume they're not going to acquire it just as well as someone who learns later (though the clamorers might stay ahead, but that's 'cause their minds needed that instruction because they were primed for it -- giving it to a non-clamorer might shift timing but might not matter in the end).

bj (from 11D)

Anonymous said...

PS: I can't tell, but are you considering skipping K for your kid in public school, or delaying his start (as an Oct birthday). I would say that I would be disinclined to have a large, smart kid be "red-shirted" even to stay in a good environment.

My Jan birthday 12 year old has always seemed 2 years older (and still does, physically, mentally, . . .) than her peers. She could easily fit into an 8th grade class and no one would bat an eye. If she was in an even younger class (say, if her b-day was in August, and we'd delayed her start), she'd be even more out of place.

bj (from 11D)

hush said...

Back from vacation - thanks for the comments all!

We had some educational testing done and based on his results, we've decided our 5-year-old son is going to skip Kindergarten and will go into first grade this fall. He will be 7 weeks younger than the youngest of his classmates who have August birthdays.

We are still trying to determine whether we will go the public or private school route - but either way he's been officially "approved" to enter first grade. This means we're not keeping him at his current Montessori - since one of the new private options is a bilingual Montessori elementary offering grades 1-6 that is opening in the fall. His educational future is suddenly looking a lot brighter.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that's awesome!

Accelerating a grade (now two) has worked really well for our son.

Anonymous said...

I was an October birthday with the same pattern you describe, and, effectively skipped 1st grade (did K & 1st in the same year). It was a fabulous decision, though I still often felt I was the "oldest' in the class.

I think it's great that you can make this work for you -- our gifted school now has a July cutoff, and will not admit kids born after that to Kindergarten (though if you do K elsewhere, you can be admitted to 1st grade even though you're younger than everyone).

hush said...

It's official-- we're sending him to the new private Montessori:

Anonymous said...

Just came across this (Apparently the "they all catch up by 3rd grade" thing is a thing):

" Gifted children who are not challenged appropriately in their first years of school may "turn off" and "tune out." That is, they lose interest in learning and can become underachievers. This loss of interest in school tends to happen at around third grade, the same time that "hothouse children" start to lose their advantages over other children, when other children start to catch up."

"Bored and disinterested gifted children are then lumped together with those hothoused children who have lost their academic advantage and educators then believe that "everything has evened out." This is one of the reasons many gifted programs in schools do not begin until third or fourth grade. The students who continue to achieve are seen to be the truly gifted children, those needing supplemental or special instruction."

So apparently yes, if you don't adequately challenge gifted kids, some lose interest in school and tune out and stop achieving. Thus evening out. I want my kids to stay happy and interested!

hush said...

@nicoleandmaggie - WOW. Thank you for that. Makes total sense.

Montessori Gold Coast said...

Awesome! We prefer the Montessori learning because they usually have a unique curriculum that gives children the guidance — and the freedom — to construct their own body of knowledge in ways most meaningful to them. :)