As a person who went to a Montessori school for several years around the ages of 4-8, I would say if you can afford to send your kids there go for it.
I was learning advanced math, foreign language, history, all sorts of stuff that public schools don't try to start teaching kids until middle school it seems. When family circumstances changed and my parents could no longer send me to that school, I entered public school where the teachers thought I must be cheating I was doing so well at the tests for my age level.
For me the teachers sometimes felt a bit strict, and some of the students spoiled and not that nice, but overall I have a postive impression of the entire experience and I wish I could have gone to the school for longer as the level of education was by far superior to what I was taught in public school.
Even in the preschool section of the school I remember learing a lot and having a great time.
I would say enroll your kids and see how they do. If they love it, well great, and if they don't you can always talk to the teachers about how to improve things or take the kids out as a last resort.
It depends on what you're looking for. When we explored Montessori, we were not pleased with their total head-focus--the director told us, for example, that the manipulatives were JUST THAT--they were for doing math and they would never be used for playing with to build boats or castles or trains. The school we explored put very little value on the children's play. This sounded completely unhealthy to us--children need time to imagine, to re-interpret the world around them through play, to explore the world around them, and to just BE. We ended up in Waldorf education, where the focus is on the child's whole development--physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual (without being religious as such)--not just the head.
I had a college of education faculty member tell me that a kid who'd been through Montessori at the beginning was "school-proof." No matter how bad the schools might be later, the kid would be smart and able to learn.
Being naturally messy myself, I admire the organization that Montessori teaches the children. They seem to love it.
It is something that really depends on your child and your own family values/structure. I think for some children it is a great program to allow them to willingly explore new things. However, I have found that if there is not a lot of structure at home than having your child attend a Montessori school leads to a somewhat brat of a child. If there is structure and expectations at home then they should carry over into school and therefore your child could be successful at a Montessori school... Good luck!
I have mixed feelings on this as my sister teaches pre-school Montessori and Kindergarten Montessori in the Denver schools. Both of her children went through Montessori pre K - 1, and they are both very smart adults now.
I teach k-1 special ed in a public school outside of Chicago. I have found that children who begin in Montessori school often have a difficult time adjusting to the structure of a regular ed classroom that has rules and procedures that are more teacher chosen than student chosen.
It's probably a crap shoot really. I'm sure there are plenty of people who have done Montessori and fit in just fine, and many who have troubles conforming. Good luck with your investigation.
I am not a foremost authority on the Montessori program, but I did check into it when my children were younger. I felt it was a bit too structured for children and promoted to much independence too quickly. Children need to be children for as long as possible.
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