Tuesday, January 22, 2013

- montessori school -

Over the past few months, we started touring preschools for Ellie to attend this coming September at the start of the next school year. She misses the cut off to start kindergarten when most kids her age will be starting, so she will be a "late start kindergartner" (just about to turn six when she can start). With this in mind, we held off one extra year to start preschool, because I really think she needed one more year to stay home and "mature" socially. She is an amazingly brilliant little girl (I know, I know...doesn't everyone say that about their kid?)... even her pediatrician said her cognitive and verbal skills are closer to the 5 year old level (hmmm, maybe they say that to all the mom's to make us feel good? lol). Anyway, as intelligent as our little one is, she is definitely very introverted and has a "slow to warm" personality. She takes a long time to warm up to people, and is usually always clinging to us in new situations...much more than most kids. So this extra year at home, is definitely not a bad thing for her...I just don't think she was ready to start preschool this past year. 

But we knew that in our area, waiting lists for preschools get unbelievably long, so we started touring schools in October, almost a full year before she would actually start. The first preschool we toured was right down the street from our house and came highly recommended from one of our friends who sent both her girls there. We liked the director, and the preschool was great, but I immediately got the feeling that Ellie would just get "lost in the crowd" at a mainstream preschool. The last thing I wanted was to find my kid in the back of the room everyday, avoiding all of the activity because it was just "too much" for her.

That's when my mom suggested we look into Montessori preschools, which is what I went to when I was Ellie's age. Funny enough, I was JUST LIKE Ellie as a kid...super introverted, anxious in large crowds and in most social situations. But I can clearly remember how much I loved Montessori because I never felt forced to always be with a large group of kids.

I tried to explain Montessori school to Matt, and I'll admit...he was pretty skeptical. One of the basic philosophies is that kids learn at the own pace, and can choose every day what they want to learn and what they work on for the day. And while there is circle time, and social time, a decent portion of the day is spent with the kids working individually, with a lot of one on one attention from the teachers. The teacher to child ratio is normally MUCH smaller in a Montessori school , which makes this easy to achieve. After I explained it to him, Matt was pretty much convinced that this was a type of school that bred loners, and that Ellie would never thrive in a school like that.

So I took my skeptical hubby to tour a Montessori school, and he immediately understood why I thought it was such a perfect fit for Ellie. It just "screamed" Ellie....everything about their teaching philosophy was perfect for her. While the social aspect is still there, she is able to have her alone time, and the one on one attention that she craves and thrives off of. It is the perfect way for her to learn those much needed social skills without forcing them on to her AND to excel academically, which I know she will do. And I have absolutely no fear of her "getting lost in the crowd" at a Montessori school. It just isn't possible the way the school and the curriculum is designed.

After we both unanimously agreed that Montessori school was definitely where we wanted her, we took some time to compare a couple of them, and ended up finding one that I just loved. I really, really like the director, and the school is small and has the lowest teacher to child ratio out of all the Montessori schools we toured.

Montessori is not for every child, but it definitely is for my child at this point in her life. While I don't see myself keeping her at a Montessori school through 6th grade (that's as high as most schools go to), as I WOULD like her to experience a more traditional school too, I think for now, this is a perfect fit, and I am so comfortable with my choice!

I'm not going to lie...the whole process was extremely stressful! I kept telling myself that this was her first introduction into education so we absolutely had to make the perfect choice! If deciding on a preschool is this hard, I can only imagine how much harder decisions are going to be as she grows up!!  Where did my little baby go??


Shannon said...

I've been seeing a lot Montessori pins on pinterest lately and had no idea what it was referring to. Now I know!

Congrats on finding a good fit for your little one! :)

Andrea {kerubo mama} said...

I've heard so many amazing things about Montessori schools, I think you made the perfect choice for Ellie!! It sounds like just the place where she will grow and thrive, and keep being the awesome kid she is!
(btw, her reactions to social situations remind me so much of Cruz, I think they are alike in many ways!! I want to email you yet, but I just need to say THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for your incredibly thoughtful and encouraging comment on my post yesterday. Seriously, hon, you have NO idea what that means to me to hear that!! You are wonderful, and I am so thankful for your friendship!)

Love you dearly, friend!! xo

Katie said...

Good for you, mama! Does it make sense to say that I'm proud of you? Even though Maile isn't even as old as Ellie yet? Haha. Well, I'm proud of you for following your instincts as E's mom.

Maile is ABSOLUTELY a Montessori-style learner. The schools here are super expensive, but I'm hoping that we might be able to get some scholarship help, or another opportunity will come along that will help us afford to send her to a place she would so clearly thrive in.

Even though it's a ways off, I can't wait to hear more about Ellie's schooling!

Paige said...

We are currently looking to enroll our daughter (age 2) in Montessori two days a week. I love the philosophy. I love the program. I think my daughter would love it and it would be great for her. Good luck!

Mrs. Pancakes said...

I've heard awesome things about Montessori...I think we may think about it someday down the line for our son!

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