Their Bad Mother

Their Bad Mother

To Montessori, Or Not To Montessori

We first faced this dilemma last year, when we were considering moving Emilia into a more formal preschool, and I wrote about my anxiety over the decision then. We decided against it for the time being, but then the school called us just this past week to ask if we’d consider enrolling her for pre-kindergarten. So here we are again, and again, I’m flummoxed.

To Montessori, or not to Montessori: that is the question. Among others.

Soon, Emilia will be old enough to attend the well-regarded Montessori school that is just around the corner from our home. Which means that she would leave the lovely preschool to which we have all become well-attached in the year or so that we have lived in this neighborhood, and move on to a more regimented, learning-focused environment, when she is just shy of four years old.


She’s been pretty happy in her preschool, which she attends three days a week. But she’s a little ways beyond the other children her own age in speech and movement and general activity, and so – with our permission – she was moved into a higher age group where she could move beyond the things that she’d already mastered and not run circles around the other children in the room. And so far, it’s been fine, but my heart does ache, just a little bit, when I see her in there with all the bigger children, her tiny self asserting her dominion in whatever corner she has staked out, defying anyone bigger to treat her as smaller, and I wonder, could we – should we – do better with this? Place her in an environment where she’s not necessarily the smallest or the youngest (or, conversely, where she is not, by whomever’s standards, the smartest or the fastest), but where activities are tailored more to her specific needs?


(There’s a whole other post here, waiting to be written and filled with heartache and confusion, about how to do what is best by my spirited little dictator – how to adequately provide the stimulation and learning that she thrives upon while still allowing her to be the wee child that she is. I never, ever want to smother her with concerns about maximizing her potential or aspiring to whatever excellence I think she might attain or like nonsense – and I do think that it’s nonsense for parents to pressure their children, especially their small children, toward such things – but neither do I want to close off opportunities for her, nor do I want her to become bored or enervated. All of which is to say – my questions here have far less to with ‘what is best for her development’ and everything to do with ‘what is best for her soul?’)


Her daycare is very good about early learning and engages children, within their respective age groups, in activities that are designed to stimulate their curiosity and facilitate interest in words and numbers and science and craft and whatnot. I think that it’s more than adequate as a preparation for ‘real’ school later on. But then again, Emilia’s ‘skipping a grade’ – in freaking nursery school – concerns me. Is keeping her with older children the answer? Or do I need to be seeking out a program that is more suited to her, as she is, at her age? And might that program be Montessori?

We visited the Montessori school around the corner. It was very impressive. But it was so markedly unlike her – noisy, chaotic, bright, messy, playful – daycare that it was almost disconcerting: quiet (although clearly happy and engaged) children busy with quiet activity, all in coded dress (nothing extreme, just variations on navy blue and white kiddy ensembles) and all seeming more mature than their four-plus years. More mature in many of the ways that Emilia is herself already ‘more mature’ – studiedly reflective and tending toward extremely close engagement with tasks at hand – but also more, I don’t know, mature in that mini-adult kind of way that spooks me when I see it in her, and makes me worry about the possibility of squashing, even just a little, the silly, free-spirited child that she is at her core.


And I just don’t know enough about these things, and it’s a lack of knowledge that weighs upon me as a lack that I cannot afford. Might Montessori be the right choice for her? Will her daycare suffice? Is ‘sufficing’ sufficient? How am I to know what’s best for her, what’s truly best for her, both the child that she is and the full person that she’s in the process of becoming?

Anyone out there have some advice, personal perspective, personal experience with Montessori, personal experience with other early-education systems, general sympathies and/or – most importantly – reassurances that I am not the only mother out there who worries about not always knowing what is best for her child?

Revised and updated from Her Bad Mother. Copyright Catherine Connors 2006 – 2009.

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Mark Reynolds

posted May 14, 2009 at 2:32 pm

There’s a misconception about Montessori. I could go on about it but I haven’t been happier about enrolling my two children. Montessori is for ALL children. Additionally, it is a cumulative method. The more Montessori you can give your child, the better. A lot of what they learn builds on itself and reappears in later grades. What you find disconcerting is the norm for Montessori kids. Quiet, working together, polite, respectiful of each other. It’s like watching a society of mini-adults. They care for each other and learn to love learning. That’s the difference. They become well-adjusted adults who are very sure of themselves. Don’t worry about the maturity squashing thing. That’s not maturity, it’s just the blooming of a child’s capabilities. We as adults are never sure if a kid’s ready almost holding them back. In a Montessori environment, the child leads himself and is ready at their own pace (which when nurtured in a Montessori environment seems more rapid). The multi-aged groupings allow younger children to have mentors, while the older children within the grouping are able to lead. An awesome set-up of equity. Anyway, like I said, I could go on. Good luck.

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posted May 14, 2009 at 3:37 pm

We placed our oldest in a Montessori preschool, and it was the best thing for him. Ever. He blossomed with the structure (although there were no uniforms at our school) and continued on his advanced quest for knowledge. He was quite frustrated at home, and acting out from the time he was almost three, until he was just past four. But going to preschool at four and a bit allowed him to direct his enormous energy and focus in a way that he would not for me, at home. Sadly, our Montessori instructor left town when he was in Kindergarten, and the program went with her. I would have gladly enrolled my younger son and now daughter in the program. And if we ever move to a community that has Montessori, they’ll be in it, especially if it has a French-Immersion program, too.

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posted May 14, 2009 at 3:46 pm

Well said, Mark. Parents say things like, “she will have 13 years of school. I want her to be a kid now.” And I think to myself… isn’t she driving you nuts trying to “grow up” right now? She wants to pick out her own clothes. She wants to pour her own milk on the cereal. She wants to “help” cook dinner and use the power tools. I don’t believe the desire to “be a kid” is coming from the child herself. If you really want to nourish her soul, let her LEAD herself in pursuits of the mind and body. Montessori is great for that. Work at her own pace. Choose things that she is passionate about. I went to Montessori from age 3 until age 8. By 8, I was doing Algebra. But I had NO interest in science. And that was just fine! I could do the baseline in science and push forward in Math. No problem. And it was my choice. A friend and I created a card catalog system (with Dewey decimal) for all the books on our school bookshelves at age 7. We gave each child in the school a library card (that we made). We also memorized every country in the globe. No one was pushing flashcards on us. It was what interested us. What we wanted to do. I would give Montessori a try. My daughter goes 3 days per week… and begs to go the other 4. She will just be 3 in July. Worst case… you can put her back in the other preschool. Right?

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posted May 14, 2009 at 4:38 pm

I…hmmm, this is a hard one. We have tried and liked Montessori, and now they are in a program that is similar, while not quite so um…regimented? I loved the Montessori program in theory, but I didn’t think my kid really fit in there. She needed to be in a place where she could be herself, which happens to be a loud crazy (yes dictator too), but highly intelligent type of a kid. Not sure I can fully explain it, but it just wasn’t the right place.
Now that being said, you are in the same boat I was in (still kinda am) a few years ago. We skipped Maya, she never went to kindergarten, because she was just too far ahead. They want to skip her again, but I just can’t do it. Book wise, she is beyond her years and peers…but socially, she just isn’t. She isn’t behind, but there is a big difference than going into 3rd grade at not yet eight years old and going into 4th grade at not yet eight.
It’s hard to know what to do in this situation. None of it seems quite right, you know? Do you go with placing her where she is at intellectually? Or letting her be a little girl? I still don’t know that I’ve done it right.
Here’s my advice: Look at the programs around you for elementary school. Try and make a decision on where you’d want her to go long term, than just looking at pre-school. Do you want her to go to Montessori all the way through 6th grade? Or just a public school? If public is going to be the choice, she may just be better off staying where she is now. But look long term if you can handle it. Because I didn’t and we’ve had to change Maya’s school a few times. Also, email if you need help okay? Because I have been where you are.

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posted May 14, 2009 at 6:02 pm

My oldest son is a very rambunctious, spirited child. I had always intended to homeschool him but when my mother was no longer able to keep him for medical reasons, I was not at a point where I could quit my job so we had to put him in daycare. After doing MUCH research, I selected a Montessori preschool for him. He had just turned 3. I was very nervous about it, but I was blown away by the way he blossomed. My younger son started at the Montessori school when he was 15 months. He’s a much different personality and it took him a little longer to acclimate but he too grew tremendously just in the first few months there.
I am a firm believer in the Montessori philosophy (if I had homeschooled, I would have used the Montessori method). There are a lot of misconceptions about Montessori. My son would come home all the time talking about his “lessons” and “work”. My husband always grumbled that he shouldn’t be working like that…he should just be playing and being a kid. The first time my husband visited the classroom, he looked around and asked “Where are the lessons he’s always talking about?” The fact is, the lessons are just toys…many of the same things you’ll find in any other preschool classroom. Play is the children’s work. I want to scream when I hear people saying that Montessori is too structured and too focused on work. The “work” is normal childhood playing…it’s how they learn and grow. The children do have a lot of responsibility in their classroom, but they also have a lot of control. Because they take ownership of their space, they enjoy the responsibility. They take care of their lessons, keep the room clean, etc. because it is THEIRS and they are allowed to take care of it.
My oldest son is very advanced in his language and verbal skills, not so much in his fine motor skills and social skills. He’s very bright, but he was accustomed to being with Grandma and the few children that she babysat for (who were all like family). His social skills were still very toddler-like even though he had the vocabulary of a first-grader (at 3). One of the things that is great about Montessori is that they don’t segregate children by age. A Montessori toddler program will generally have children from 18 months up to 3 years old. The Early Childhood program will have children from 2 to 6 years (mostly 3 to 5, but some children will be “ready” to move on earlier or later). It was great for Squirt to be in a group with a wide range of ages. All of the children learn to watch the older ones and follow their example and reach out to help the younger ones. Because every child is an individual and has their own strengths and weaknesses, there will always be something that you do better than someone else and something that you struggle with more. By having a wide range of ages, everyone is pretty much at the same level (it’s a huge level!) so there is no “ahead” or “behind”…no “advanced” or “delayed”. Even at 3, Squirt took a leadership role in his class because that’s his personality. He also learned that he didn’t always have to be the boss though.
I love the way good Montessori teachers respect the individual in each child. Squirt likes to be the center of attention. Instead of trying to squash that and make him sit back and be just like everyone else, they nurtured it. Any time there were visitors in their classroom, the teacher would ask Squirt to show them around and explain the lessons and the rules to them. I just cannot explain to you how he thrived there.
After my husband and I split, I lost my job so I just couldn’t afford the Montessori school any more. I had to put the boys in a regular daycare with Squirt in the state-funded pre-K. It’s been nothing but heartache for us. I’m trying everything I can to figure out a way to get him back in Montessori instead of public kindergarten.
One thing about Montessori is that the name is not trademarked so anyone can call themselves a Montessori school. Ask them about their certifications, the teachers’ training, whether they’re affiliated with AMS or AMI (I think those are the initials…they’re the two major international Montessori groups). Visit the classroom a couple of times, talk to the teachers, talk to other parents. I would say give it a chance though.
The whole foundation of the Montessori philosophy is RESPECT for the child. It’s not about pushing children to read and write because they’re the right age or teaching to a test. It’s all about creating and environment that allows the child to learn and grow. If you do that, the child will love learning and want to learn. All the teacher has to do is facilitate…there’s no reason to push.
Also, I will say that our Montessori school was very much a family environment. I frequently volunteered in the classroom, as did all of the other parents (yes, working parents!) I considered it my school as much as my children’s. I had the home and cell phone numbers for all of my boys’ teachers. In fact, the other day, we went to Squirt’s teacher’s house just to visit because they miss each other. I don’t have the same feeling at all from the new preschool and staff and I can’t imagine getting the same feeling from a public school.
If you have any specific questions, please feel free to e-mail me. I’m sorry to write a book here but it’s something I’m passionate about. In a true Montessori program where the staff are well-trained and passionate, I can’t imagine any child not thriving and blossoming. I don’t think there’s a one-size-fits-all answer for anything in life but the great thing about Montessori is that the program is tailored for each individual child. It’s not one-size-fits-all…it’s different for every child.
Oh, and one thing I think is amazing. My neighbor had a special needs middle schooler who left public school to go to our Montessori school. In her second year, I asked her what she thought of the school and got a glowing review. The thing that really stood out was that she said her Montessori class had the same number of students as her public school class, but she got far more 1-on-1 time with her teacher. In public school, the teacher stood at the front of the room and talked to the whole class. In Montessori school, the students worked on their own or in small groups while the teacher went from student to student and gave individual attention to each. I saw the same thing in the early childhood program. When you read about it, you think “That couldn’t possibly work” but when you see it in action, you realize it works beautifully!

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posted May 14, 2009 at 10:47 pm

Thank you for writing this post. And commenters, thanks for all your input. This is something I’ve been struggling with for awhile with my own son, and there is no way I could’ve written my feelings as eloquently as Catherine did.
But after reading this, I’m going to check out the Montessori schools in my neighborhood (there are a lot, there is a local college that offers degrees in the teaching method) and most likely am going ot switch my son in the fall.
If he doesn’t like it, I can always find somewhere else for him to go, right? Thing is, I’ve never heard anyone say anything BAD about Montessori, so I think it’s worth a shot.

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posted May 14, 2009 at 11:10 pm

The key is likely mixed age grouping, and Montessori is but one method that employs this utterly logical approach. Interestingly, her name is Emilia… are you at all familiar with an approach inspired by the environments that exist in the preprimary schools in Reggio Emilia, Italy? Best of all worlds. E-mail me if you want more information than you can possibly imagine. I run a school that embraces this approach.

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posted May 15, 2009 at 5:00 am

I think it comes down to the individual child and the indvidual school. I don’t know what it’s like in the US, but here in Australia Montessori pre-schools are popping up everywhere right now so there’s bound to be some variation in quality and teaching style.
My aunt took her 18-month-old daughter to a Montessori playgroup, but ended up removing her because the facilitator was just too controlling for children of that age – forcing them to stay on the mat for song time, getting terribly upset when my little cousin wanted to mix some dry pasta with water.
I say go with your instincts about the feel of the place and how your daughter would fit in there. You can always remove her if it doesn’t work out – you won’t scar her for life. No school is perfect.
I don’t wish to offend people for whom Montessori has obviously been a success, but I think that, here in Australia at least, it’s becoming a bit of a thing that middle-class parents feel obliged to send their kids to Montessori for the supposedly superior education, when their kids would be just as happy at the local pre-school. Good luck with your decision.

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posted May 15, 2009 at 9:11 am

Both of my children attend Montessori and love it. My older child is well ahead of her peers in many aspects and my younger is well behind. Both are thriving in their environments because they work at their own levels. I have seen the school from the inside out during a few substitute teaching opportunities. It is an amazing thing to observe. I will say, there are more then a handful of Montessori schools in our area and they are very different. We chose the “laid-back one” which for me is the perfect amount of consistency without rigidness.

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posted May 15, 2009 at 9:25 am

My daughter attended a Montessori preschool for three years. It was expensive and their methods and priorities sometimes seemed counterintuitive, but I would put her back there in a heartbeat. Now, as a second grader in Catholic school, she is self-confident, self-motivated, and genuinely loves learning. She is a fiercely independent thinker (which isn’t always easy to be in a parochial school environment). She is also very much a kid. In a strange way, not having to ham it up for an audience in preschool every day made it possible for her to be even more imaginative in her play. Maybe not quite as exuberant, but much more creative.
My son has been in traditional preschool. In spite of wonderful teachers and beautiful facilities, it has been a disaster. He will be homeschooled for the next few years to hopefully undo some of the damage. I wish I had advocated more strongly that the expense of Montessori was justified for him, but I let myself be persuaded that he would be fine in any good quality program. Now we are on a much more difficult journey with him, and it haunts me a little to think that we missed an opportunity to start him on a different course. I’m not sure that Montessori would have ultimately made the difference–there are so many contributing factors to the situation–but just knowing that it might have is enough to bring on the guilt.
At the end of the day, you have to go with your instincts, and unfortunately, no one can help you with that. But for what it’s worth, a Montessori education really can bring about amazing learning and growth, especially for strong-willed, independent thinkers.

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posted May 15, 2009 at 4:24 pm

My daughter goes to a private school that follows the Montessori and Reggio model for preschool. There are some formalities (uniforms, how they address the teachers etc…) but there is also tremendous freedom, enthusiasm and affection. My spirited child enthusiastically attends with a spring her step and after formally shaking her teacher’s hand and saying “good morning Mrs. X” she jumps into her arms for a hug and kiss. In my experience, this type of school is the best of both worlds. Yes, there is some formal learning (skills our children will later need) but it’s done in small “child sized” portions. The rest of it is learning at the child’s pace and interest. And there are days when my daughter has done nothing but engage in imaginative play and that is OK and welcomed.
Importantly, not all Monetessori schools are the same. You need to be comfortable with your choice. But there is no reason why a preschool can’t be both intellectually stimulating and socially stimulating. They are not mutually exclusive.
Finally, my older child did not attend this school. He attended a traditional play based preschool. It was no where near academically stimulating enough. My biggest regret is not sending him to the private school sooner.

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Amy K

posted May 15, 2009 at 5:57 pm

I attended Montessori school from pre-K until 4th grade and LOVED IT. Something about the Montessori teaching system makes learning a lot of fun. We were reading Charlotte’s Web in 1st grade while my public school friends were mastering Hop on Pop. We sang songs in French, played math games, learned interesting scientific details like the names of the different types of clouds and how to recognize them, studied art and music, went on regular field trips, and somehow still had time for daily gym class and recess. When I switched to a non-Montessori private school for 5th grade, I was several years ahead of the class in every subject, and I didn’t enjoy my classes nearly as much. I plan to send my daughter to our local Montessori school as soon as she’s old enough.

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posted May 16, 2009 at 11:15 am

I don’t think you’re the only one who worries– not by a long shot. Although, I don’t know about Montessori. We just went and toured the “very good” Montessori school in our city, and I have to say, I Was a little freaked out by it. I’m not sure it’s natural for a group of kids that young to be that quiet and introspective…

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posted May 16, 2009 at 2:11 pm

I’m a Montessori teacher…if anyone wants info, has questions, fears, doubts…Love it, adore the kids…and yes, a Montessori classroom is weirdly quiet in comparison to pre-schools, but, in a good school, this is because the kids are truly happy with what they are doing and absorbed in real work/play. There are schools and teachers, however, who create this by being controlling. This is not Montessori…and is to be avoided. Just sit in on a class and watch the teacher. If she’s constantly correcting the children, out loud, she’s a bad teacher.

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posted May 16, 2009 at 8:49 pm

I think I would love to send my kids to Montesorri…. We just never considered it. My husband and I just never had that conversation. Not sure why. Maybe he would like it too? Our conversation has simply always been “private” or “public.” Just when we decided against Jewish school, we have OTHER choices to make? Hmmm…, you’ve made me think. As usual. :) Congrats on this new gig. Beliefnet is a great community!

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posted May 18, 2009 at 1:04 pm

My son does attend a Montessori school, which we love, and I serve on the Board there.
I would encourage you to make sure that the school you are considering is truly a Montessori school. The name “Montessori” is not trademarked or copyrighted, so anyone can open a daycare or school and slap the Montessori name on it. The Association Montessori Internationale ( is the premier accreditation board for Montessori schools. Make sure the school you are considering is AMI Recognized or AMI Affiliated. Recognized means that the teachers are AMI Certified and that the school meets AMI pedagogical standards; Affiliated means that some of the teachers are certified and the school meets some of the AMI pedagogical standards (and often these school are working toward meeting the Recognized status).
I felt the same way about squashing my son’s playfulness, but I realized that instead I was squashing my son’s abilities and independence. We have to step back and let them grow and learn, and the Montessori method lets them do exactly that at their own pace.

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Your Name

posted May 18, 2009 at 7:48 pm

My son has been in a Montessori program since he was a toddler. When he was ready for pre-school, I looked visited and observed non-Montessori pre-schools for no other reason than to “do my homework” and feel confident about keeping him in Montessori. I was surprised that at most of the pre-schools I visited, teachers were still doing things for the kids (setting the table, pouring their milk, serving them lunch) that my son has been doing for himslef since he was 18 months old. It is true that Montessori instruction allows children to blossom at their own pace.
I make a practice of dropping without notice at various times to see how things are going in the classroom and although most of the time the kids are quietly working on their jobs, I have definitely entered in to a room filled with a bit of chaos now and then. What has been very impressive was to watch how quickly and easily the teacher(s) regain control.
I am now faced with my own dilema as my son will be starting kindergarden in the fall. Do I move him to a traditional school or keep him in a Montessori program? We only have one Montessori school in our area that teaches to the 5th grade and I worry that if I keep him in Montessori that when he transitions to traditional school in the 6th grade, he will have a difficult time adjusting.

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Carrie Requist

posted May 19, 2009 at 12:51 am

My children have been in Montessori since we blindly put our oldest in pre school at 22 months when we were pregnant with twins. That oldest is now 11 years old and about to graduate from the public Montessori elementary program that we helped start. Montessori has encouraged and supported my children to be enthusiastic learners and to love school and learning. And it helped us to be better parents. To learn more about Montessori, please go to the website for The Montessori Foundation at and get the book “The Montessori Way.” It is a great decision for your family and your child(ren).
And to address the responder who is deciding what to do at Kindy and worried about the 6th grade transition- If your child is a happy learner now, PLEASE keep him in Montessori. It provides such a wonderful base. The children who have transitioned from our public Montessori the traditional middle school have done well, but more importantly, don’t short change his education now because you are worried about the transition many years from now. My soon to be 6th grader LOVES school and LOVES learning. With that, we know that we will be able to work with her to continue her education. If the traditional middle school doesn’t work for her, then we will explore private and online options (we are in a small town with limited local options) but I know that she will be a lifelong learner because of her Montessori start.
And my now 3rd grade twins are also thriving in Montessori. one of them told me, for the first time ever, that she didn’t want to go to school a few weeks ago. The reason? Standardized testing that was interrupting the regular classroom. She was so happy to get her Montessori class back when the testing was done and be able to lead her own learning.
I can’t say enough good things about the effects of Montessori on a child’s confidence and eagerness to learn. And the more you educate yourself on Montessori and what goes on in the classroom, the better you are able to support your child.5h23w4

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posted May 19, 2009 at 8:08 pm

I read an interesting article when I was considering Montessori preschool for my boys. I wish I could remember where it was because it addresses some of the concerns about squashing children’s creativity.
Basically, the line that stuck with me is this. If a child is playing and picks up a violin and starts banging it like a hammer, that’s not creative, it’s destructive. If the same child picks up the violin and starts picking at the strings, experimenting with drawing the bow across the strings, etc, that’s creative.
In the Montessori classroom, there are boundaries and rules. Lessons and materials are to be respected and not abused. But within those boundaries, children are free to explore and be creative. Also, the rules are not enforced by an authoritarian teacher. The teacher is more of a guide. The children have a natural love of learning and a sense of ownership in the classroom so they want to take care of their materials and treat them properly so that they can continue to enjoy them.
Since I had to move my boys to a more traditional preschool program, I notice that many of the materials in the classroom are the same, but the children think of them differently. When I walk in, I see kids grabbing maracas from the basket and hitting each other with them, pretending they are guns, banging them on the floor and tables, etc. When it gets too far out of hand, the teacher takes them away and puts them on a shelf for a while. It’s a completely different mindset.
I also thought it was interesting that when my 4 year old started the regular pre-K after two years in Montessori, he told me quite emphatically that “At my new school we don’t have lessons, we have toys. We don’t do work there, we play.” Any time I hear that he has had a behavior problem in class, I wonder if that attitude is part of the problem. Even though he’s doing some of the same activities that he did in Montessori school, he doesn’t take it as seriously because no one else does. Montessori school was fun, but it was also his job. As far as he’s concerned, the new school is just babysitting…and that’s the attitude he’s gotten from his teachers.

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posted June 10, 2009 at 7:01 pm

I was a montessori kid, then a kid put into public school for kindergarten, where according to my parents, I was bored. Therefore, when presented with the opportunity, they agreed that I should skip grade one. Really, I have overall done well – went on to do nice smart girl things in life in the 27 years subsequent to the big skip. That said, I so wholeheartedly do NOT believe in skipping kids based on the experience I had – academically I was fine. Socially and athletically however, I was miserably behind. I wouldn’t wish my k-12 years on anyone in those regard. I love what you said about allowing Emilia to still be her wee self. Hold that thought! She can do that at montessori, but if she progresses too far ahead academically because she is bright and motivated, you may have to come up with creative ways to keep her challenged in elementary school.

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posted March 11, 2010 at 1:52 pm

well felt the same way and i just went and checked out the school i was going to put my son in and i loved it there is no doubt in my mind that this is the thing i should be doing for my son……. dont fret and go check out the school and any others you might be considering, it will be easier to make up your mind and you wont have to worry quite as much

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posted October 15, 2010 at 1:33 am

Well I recently signed my son up for Montessori and after almost 2 months, I’m pulling him out. He’s 4, and I put him in based on all the high praise I’ve been hearing about it over the years. However, he was miserable. Truth is, he found it boring. There wasn’t enough structure or guidance for him, so my little shy guy would wander around the class aimlessly because no one would take him by the hand and show him how to use the materials or invite him to participate. They also wouldn’t let parents in the classroom (they put a piece of red tape at the doorway to show where we must not cross) and they even blocked out the windows so we couldn’t peek in! It felt like a cult. My son had so much separation anxiety (didn’t have any last year at regular preschool where he actually had fun) that I was given special permission to sit on a stool at the back of the class while he settled in, which is where I observed him wandering around by himself. At one point he came over to hug me and the teacher told him he couldn’t hug me and had to get back to work! This deeply hurt him and he began to cry, but she didn’t respond at all to his distress. I know everyone will say But that’s not true Montessori, but I kinda think it is. At least, I’m pretty sure they were following the “rules” to the letter. I’m going to put him in a play-based program 2 or 3 days a week (Montessori was 5!) where he can experience a sense of community with other kids his age and where his only “work” will be to have a great time being 4. Added bonus, he’ll have more time with his most valuable teacher, me!

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posted November 2, 2010 at 10:19 am

We’re strongly considering pulling our daughter from her Montessori preschool. We really wanted to love the method and the school, but our daughter’s behavior has become very aggressive and defiant since she started Montessori school. Every day we hear about how disruptive and disrespectful she is to other children and their work. She’s physically hurt other children at school. She talks more about the big kid work that she’s not allowed to do than the work that she is allowed to do. She struggles with using the materials correctly.
I think that the method could probably be excellent for some children, but that it’s not for everyone. Our very social child has not flourished at Montessori. I think it’s stringent for our little free spirit.

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posted April 28, 2011 at 1:47 am

the Montessori community is very nice up until 5th grade. YOU DO NOT WANT YOUR CHILDREN TO GO PAST 6TH GRADE!!!! THEY WILL NOT BE SUCCESSFUL. TRUST ME, I HAVE TAUGHT AT A Montessori school before in 6th 7th and 8th THEY DO NOT DO ANYTHING

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posted July 21, 2011 at 10:32 pm

Wow! Sounds like your little “Shy guys”, “free spirits”, and other brats who “like to be the center of attention” (and should have that tendency squashed, btw) are all in need of a good spanking.

You idiot parents act like your kids are gods gift to the planet. I’ve got news for you: They could all grow up to be losers, addicts or killers no matter how bloody precious you think they are now.

Save your money and teach them how to sew, cook, read, write and shut the fuck up once in a while.

I’m serious.

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Megan Searle

posted September 23, 2011 at 6:38 am

I am facing the same dilemma – what did you do?

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posted October 21, 2011 at 12:41 am

I can relate, I am only a couple of years too late, I wonder what you discovered…. Please let me know if you can, Linda

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posted June 20, 2012 at 11:33 pm

Too late to help you decide but to send your child to Montessori would be child abuse by neglect!! It is not about your child being happy! Happy to play all day if that is his/her individual choice and not learning anything structured as required by local government guidelines or relative to future integration to society.
The child is neglected in Montessori under the fake guise that the child must be creative with whatever he/she likes- i.e if your child likes sitting in the corner playing with two bits of lego, then that’s what the teachers will let her/him do for the next 2-3 to 10 years until your child individually wants to change!!!
There is nothing special about Montessori, in fact it was set up over 100yrs ago for “retarded” children who couldn’t work in the regular traditional catholic schools.
Your child who will attend regular school will be at a disadvantage because they have no guidelines, no idea of boundaries or discipline and ask any 1st grade teacher in a school that is fed by traditional and montessori and they will tell you Montessori kids are ill disciplined(on the whole)and disruptive–because the idiot parents and rip off teachers allow these tiny cuties to have their own autonomy!
Another word of warning, if your kid is boisterous and out going then they will become more so and probably a raging bully in the Montessori system- if your child is shy and introvert, they will be ignored and left by the other children and the Montessori teachers! And i’ll tell you why- the teachers don’t care because under the Montessori way, the child has to individually get in touch with their self, the plane of the gods and nature;(yep Maria Montessoris trip to India incorporated a Buddhism type of cultness-theosophy!) they must also learn if they feel like it. IF THEY DO NOT LEARN THEN THE MONTESSORI TEACHER WILL SAY “WELL I HAVE NOT FAILED AS A TEACHER, YOUR CHILD HAS FAILED AS AN INDIVIDUAL!” The laziest and easiest job in the world to be a montessori teacher.

Montessori is CHILD NEGLECT, child neglect is CHILD ABUSE send your kids their if you don’t give a shite about them. If you think Montessori allows for more creativity(procrastination and wasting educational time!) then do what parents have done for ages–check the traditional school has art classes where kids can be creative or send them to extracurricular activities to increase their creativity- don’t disable them within mainstream education for airy fairy Montessori(excuse to have high fees) marketing non-sense.
Final thought, if Montessori really was that good then you’d see schools going right through to 18yr olds, you don’t because the failure rate in state exams would be in the 90%!!

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posted August 30, 2012 at 10:37 pm


I don’t see any person anecdotes or backup to your comments. Are you past Montessori child? Where do your views stem from?

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posted March 23, 2013 at 3:13 pm

Hi Heather
My views are from first hand experience with a montessori preschool that abused my 3yr old daughter for 7weeks.The staff could do no wrong(or in fact anything)The manageress was a freak that shouldn’t even be in charge of her own children let alone others!
7 days in an up to date school(not 150 yr old rubbish for retards) and all was again well.
Perhaps Heather you are that crazy one??:)

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posted March 23, 2013 at 3:17 pm

Oh and just so you all you Christians know, Montessori is based and founded on Hinduism.

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Pingback: To Montessori or Not To Montessori… | Montessori School of Westminster

posted November 7, 2014 at 11:58 pm

I haven’t read all the posts thoroughly as some were quite lengthy, but I would think long and hard before placing your child in Montessori if she is “free spirited.” We thought Montessori meant independence, choices, and individualized care and learning, but for our children it has been a nightmare. They’re individualized and independence seems to being snuffed out and any lack of conformity is addressed as severe behavior issues. We thought switching them Montessori would give them freedom to grow but they are more constrained than ever. Just watching them have to “walk the line”
Is disturbing.

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posted January 29, 2015 at 4:14 am

I am debating over montessori also. for my super social, bubbly to-be-3 year old daughter who is academically advanced. I wonder if Montessori will allow her to flourish and nurture her spirit or if it will be too rigid. But what is the alternative? Play based schools are not challenging intellectually, acclimating her to pay partial attention to any lessons and act out because she’s already bored. And academically challenging schools elite prep schools, where for $$$ they will keep your kid with their age group but tailor lessons –where from age 3 they are in college-prep mode promoting sitting still, listening to the teacher/lecture and are all mind-focused. Where else is there a better balance for academically advanced kids that have advanced social skills for their age and size, where there is a balanced approach for nurturing their whole soul?

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