School Daze

We found out a few months ago that Curly was chosen by lottery for the Montessori school near us. We were happy, a little anxious, and went to work coming up with a carpool plan with our nearby neighbor friends whose son was also beginning there in the Fall. And then we waited. We were told that we’d receive a letter regarding when Curly’s first day would be. But first we got a letter stating that a new principal was starting. We continued to wait for the second letter, still not having received it in mid-August (our county’s schools began classes Aug 20, and even knowing that Curly would not be starting until a little later, we were getting worried…). Finally, we got the letter…only telling us which teacher he was assigned to and not giving us a start date, but telling us his teacher would call us with that. Clearly, things were very disorganized.

Last night at 9pm(!), we got the teacher’s call. And that was just to arrange for a time when we could come to the school with Curly to meet his teacher 1-on-1 and get him acquainted with her and the classroom. We’re doing that Friday at 10am. Today, Nutella and I had an 11:30 meeting to meet all the teachers and other 3 and 4-year-olds’ parents, and have a general information session. Still no start date for us, although our neighbor-friends’ son is starting Tuesday Sept 4, so maybe us, too? Unfortunately our boys are in different classes so they won’t have each other to fall back on. We’ve been telling Curly about all the new friends he’ll make, and got him the backpack he wanted, and he seems pretty excited about his new school (always easier in theory than practice!).

The teachers explained today that the kids must be 100%  independent. For instance, the teachers will tell them if their shoes are on the wrong feet, but only if they happen to notice, and they won’t help them fix it. An “older child” will accompany Curly to the bathroom when he needs to go, but he must take care of all business by himself when he’s in there. Oh, and there’s only one stall in the boys’ room, the rest is urinals, joy. If he has an accident, he must be able to change his clothes by himself (as far as #2 accidents are concerned, I can only see us being called at work to pick him up because he’s going to be a gross mess…suuuuuuuuuuuucks). There is no snack break (school is in session 9 to 11:30), so he can munch on something in the car on the way there, and on the way to his current daycare/pre-school when we pick him up midday. He will not be able to suck his thumb without being told to immediately go wash his hands (good! it will help him kick the habit). And all the kids will have a “probationary period” of 6 weeks, during which if they have problems that do not improve, they will be told not to return until January.

There was more, but basically it’s a huge change and things are about to get very, very interesting when he starts. Which might be in 2 weeks. We think.

[Post script: There were a couple gems that the teachers said this morning, including “It’s Summer time, which means shorts, and if your kid has an accident it will go straight down the legs to the shoes…and I don’t want a kid with pee-pee shoes walking around the classroom” as well as “Check your kid’s pockets and backpack…if you see an adorable little koala toy..awww…BRING IT BACK! It goes with the world map!”]

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13 responses to “School Daze

  1. Wow! Sounds like Curly will be learning a lot about independence, which is good. Hope he has a great experience there.

  2. Good luck! I hope he enjoys it. Friends of mine had their daughter in Montessori and found the independence thing was a bit much for her age. She was two at the time. That’s really young to be toilet trained at all, let alone completely independent in the bathroom. They didn’t like that she wasn’t getting herself clean enough. They liked a lot of things about the school, but they found the bathroom thing, and some of the other expectations of independence, were a bit much. I guess a lot of this also depends on the child. With my kids, I think Ian would probably be great in an environment like that, but Erik would have really struggled.

    Oh,the phone calls from school to come and change the kid are so fun! I had a few of those when Erik was in JK.

  3. Does he see other boys peeing standing up? Has he shown any curiostiy about doing it that way? I am sure that there will be more adventures to come! He may just take off with the independance thing and tell you (as I was told by a certain someone) “I do it MYSELF”.

  4. HP does the whole bathroom thing by himself at school and pees standing uP and it hasn’t been a problem at all. Once Curly sees everyone else doing it he will be great! I hope you get a date soon. That’s crazy!

  5. Hmmmmm. I have mixed feelings about this school, after this post. I’ll be holding my breath and hoping that it ends up being a good fit for all.

  6. I have to agree with tbean. I taught at a “Montessori-inspired” school, and think the philosophy is excellent for most kids, but what I understand of it sounds nothing like this. Usually Montessorians use the motto “help me to do it myself” not “expect me to do it myself”. Hope all goes well and that they’re more nurturing than they seem to be from this post.

  7. Here’s the thing – C’s Montessori is the exact same way and it takes some getting used to. I was skeptical at first but I am now a huge proponent of Montessori. As we say at our house, those teachers don’t mess around. But C has an amazing independence now – he was fully potty trained right at two and does things that a lot of 4 year olds don’t do. We are fans!

  8. On closer read, I am kind of surprisef by the fact that they won’t help them fix their shoes or change after an accident. C’s school does expect them to be able to dress and toilet independently, but it’s not that hard core!

  9. Riley is at a Montessori school, but it sounds very little like this. She is encouraged to be independent but the focus is really on helping her find success in things. If she can’t do something on her own, they try to adjust the thing so she can, you know? And not helping kids with accidents kind of feeels like shaming them to me. Riley is REALLY upset when she’s wet and would be horrified if she had to deal with it herself while upset in front of her peers.
    Also, who are the older kids helping them in the bathroom? How much older? With no teacher present?

    Riley has been in Montessori since 15 months, so she is well versed in Montessori ways, but I think these expecations of these kids, all of them starting new, is a little too much.

    Of course I hope it works out (with the organizational stuff too!!).

  10. Our Montessori is heavy on rules too! It’s a bit overwhelming but it is amazing what they teach young children. I’m a bit worried for S but we’re looking at ways to make life easier for her like easy to pull up pants (modified by granny) and shoes she can put on herself. We were also told the older kids help which is a nice.

  11. Our Montessori school is the same way in terms of independence (our bean starts sept 4th). I’m sure Curly will do great there. Hopefully the teachers are more sensitive than they came off at the meeting!

  12. Just wanted to also say that our bean has been at montessori for 2 years and has been prepped at school on what’s expected. We also had an informational session months ago letting us know what to expect in preschool. It’s really too bad you didn’t have this info earlier so you could spend time working on these things with him. Hopefully you have a few weeks before he starts to get him ready.

  13. That sounds like a lot for a little person to handle. Wow. I guess the good news is that kids are quick learners and so adaptable. He will have those challenges conquered in no time. I cant wait to hear how everything goes!

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