More on school

I appreciate the comments on the last post. We, too, feel that they’re probably asking too much of 3 year olds. However, this Montessori is a public school, so there are rules the teachers have to follow that may not always be Montessori-like but more public-school-like. Not that it excuses anything…and especially not that it excuses full-sized toilets and urinals in bathrooms that teachers may not accompany little ones in (they wait outside). The “older” children that accompany the young ones are 5 to answer one of the comments. However, it’s possible there could be children up to 13 present in the bathroom at the same time. So that’s not entirely comfortable to think about. The other red flag is that, even though I was thinking Curly would pee standing up at the urinals (and to answer another question, he has peed standing up many times, but usually leans on something, like a tree or the toilet lid) the urinals are ALL too tall. We went with him into two bathrooms in the school and there is no way he could use any of the urinals, even the shortest ones. It’s absurd. He did use the stall toilet by himself (well, I just had to position him slightly so that he backed up onto it without falling in, sigh). He’s terrible with ripping toilet paper and will keep pulling and pulling on it, and he’s never latched a public restroom door before so we’ll have to work on that. Honestly though…I think he’s right where he should be as an early 3 year old. At his current daycare/pre-school, they have small toilets and everything is easily within reach. And if a child really needs help, a teacher will assist. That’s how it should be. They are freaking 3 years old!

So we met with his teacher and the aide, and class for the 5 year olds was in session so we got to see how everything worked. The visit was supposed to make me feel better and I’m sorry to say it did not. It was semi-chaotic, mostly because of a few children that did not want to follow the rules, but I guess it’s only the first week so they’re getting used to the environment again. The bathroom situation of course was worse than we thought. Curly can’t even reach the sinks! He’ll have to go back to his classroom to wash his hands, so what good is that for not spreading germs? And then when we were being shown out by 2 five-year-old “escorts” who were very sweet, I asked them if they liked going to school there and they said “not really.” Now, I know kids don’t like school…I get it, neither did I. But they seemed really unenthusiastic and all they liked was “recess.” I guess I would’ve felt better with even a droll “it’s okaaay” but the “not really” was sad to hear.

Curly was extremely clingy for the first 20 minutes…I could tell he was close to crying after the first 5 minutes because he thought we were going to leave him there. My heart was breaking for him. After a while, he began to get interested in the things around him, and the teacher gave him some “work” to do, like sorting, scooping, and color puzzles…and he did wonderfully and was very focused. He didn’t say or do anything when being introduced to some of the other children at first, but after a bit, he would wave at anyone who said hello. He even broke out of his shell with the teacher and chatted with her, and expressed interest in having his own turn with the “work.”

I just…I don’t know. He starts Wed Sept 5 and we’re going to give it a go, I just can’t help feeling really worried, wondering if he’s ready for all that at just 3 years old.

5 responses to “More on school

  1. Ugh. I held off on commenting on the last post, because sometimes hearing things isn’t the same as experiencing them, and sometimes fears are bigger than reality. I’m sorry that the visit didn’t reassure you, though, and I hope that Curly ends up thriving there, however today’s visit may have gone. ♥

  2. Hmmm…I have a 6 year old boy who can be very, well, you know…6 year old boy-ish, but he loves school and I can’t imagine him ever saying otherwise.
    I hope these initial worries fade and Curly loves it.

  3. Boo. I’m sorry the visit wasn’t more reassuring.

    Look, I’m going to be candid here, since I know you guys, and care about you and Curly, but I think you are right to listen to your concerns here. If you think this might not be a good fit, don’t feel bad heeding that feeling. Of course, as other parents have already said, it might be a wonderful environment for him in the end and just a tough transition, initially. But there are several red flags here (especially hearing those boys tell you they didn’t like it there–so sad) that worry me. And they aren’t necessarily having anything to do with Montessori or not. It sounds like the school is just plain disorganized.

    I’ll show my cards and admit that I’m not a personal fan of the Montessori approach at all. The independence thing I can get but I just don’t personally like their philosophies on teaching and learning. So, perhaps my reactions are just letting my bias show. But these last two posts have made me sad and concerned for Curly. Hopefully, I’m over-reacting and after a week or two there, he will be loving it.

  4. O goodness, I’m sorry for this rough start (for you two, though it sounds like Curly is faring ok so far)! I haven’t read your posts in a while because I can’t remember the password (oy me), but I couldn’t read this and not comment. I will hope hope hope that things get better as everyone settles in.

  5. Unlike tbean, I am huge fan of Montessori. My mom is a trained Montessori teacher and I worked in 2 different Montessori schools as an aide for 3 summers when I was in school. I have done research on the philosophy as well and have complete buy in.

    All that aside, I’m seeing huge red flags as well in these early posts and your recent one. These seem to be issues related to your particular school, not the philosophy itself.

    As a few other commenters have said, Montessori is about HELPING children gain independence, not just leaving them on their own.

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