School-Kindergarten transition from Montessori to tradition didn't go well

Discussion in 'Childhood and Beyond (4+)' started by maybell, Jan 27, 2014.

  1. maybell

    maybell Well-Known Member

    So, we did Montessori for age 3 & 4. then I thought we would transition to my church's private traditional school for Kindergarten and above.  I love the religious aspect of learning about Jesus, but the teacher is so hung up on letter names instead of sounds that I am re-thinking if we need to stay or go back to our old school.
    My son is doing well and making progress with the letter names vs sounds and starting to read in spite of learning the names - this did delay his reading though.  But my daughter is not thriving... I think the teacher is really placing a lot of stress on the letter names and, well in my mind that doesn't help you to read... so I feel like we are at an impass.  I know it's "just kindergarten", but I feel like she is no longer excited about learning, and I don't want to set her up for a life of mediocrity or trying to please the teacher.  I think she now actually doesn't feel confident in what she does know.
    I liked the Montessori for the points that the teachers don't praise them so that the students can focus on what they are doing and not worry about getting outward praise as their motivator to keep learning.
    any ideas on my struggles?  my daughter also struggles in this classroom with group activities.  I think she's used to having the 1 teacher to less than 10 students vs. her 1:16 ratio.  Also oddly the classroom has 11 boys and 5 girls and the teacher is forever sticking all 5 girls together, one of which wears a tiara! 
    I am thinking heavily of moving them both back to the Montessori after they do this really nice unit on "Jesus in my heart" for Valentine's day...  I don't think I want to separate because of logistics of two schools, but also because I think they both would thrive more at the Montessori school for learning.
    anyway, enough of my ranting.  thoughts would be great.
  2. mummy2two

    mummy2two Well-Known Member

    First, you must do what is best for your children.  If you think that switching them will help, then do it!
    Second, I think your kids will learn to read.  Maybe not as soon as you hoped, but it seems that they are on the right track.  If a teacher focuses on one thing before another, it may be because that is what is necessary for the kids to succeed in the next grade.
    That being said, I would be hesitant to switch my kids at this point.  However, you have noticed some very significant problems.  You didn't mention it, so my first thought would be to schedule a meeting with the teacher right away.  I would tell the teacher at the meeting that you don't believe that your daughter is thriving...and definitely bring up that you have noticed that she is not as confident as she was in pre-school.  Ask the teacher what your daughter is like in class, why she has choosen to focus on letter names, why you believe that has not helped your daughter, and most importantly, what you and the teacher can do to help your daughter be successful and confident.
    If the tiara bothers you, I would again mention it to the teacher.  I would try to explain to my child that so and so needs to wear the tiara to help her feel better in class.  But if it didn't bother my child, I'd forget about it.
    GL!  I'm looking forward to reading others perspectives.
  3. kingeomer

    kingeomer Well-Known Member TS Moderator

    I'm unfamiliar with Montessori schools and their philosophy of teaching.  Is your daughter struggling in other areas besides reading and group activities? Did she have these problems in preschool at all?
    Have you spoken to their kindergarten teacher about the struggles your daughter is facing? Does the school offer some help for children who struggle with reading?  My kids both go to a small school, they are in the same class (not what I wanted but they only have one kindergarten) and they are in a class of 24 students with 16 boys and 8 girls.
    I know I don't have much advice, but I would say, if you are not happy with what is going on and you've tried to address your concerns to no avail, then I would consider switching back.  Children do learn to read at a different paces, so your daughter could still have the struggle no matter what school she is in right now.  But you have to do what you feel is best for your two children.  Keep us posted!
  4. KCMichigan

    KCMichigan Well-Known Member

    I agree with chatting with the teacher. She may be working with a planned curriculum that does/does not have some leeway on presenting literacy skills.
    Ask the teacher about the expectations for K and what they do to differentiate for different levels and ways of learning.
    Sounds are vital for learning and reading- many programs do them at the same time.
    As for the tiara: I guess that is not a biggie in my book. You could see that in any school/room/etc. Young children have comfort items (clothing, etc) and that just may be hers. Or it could be a cultural thing. Who knows why she likes to wear it and why is it important to you?
    Things like that simply open up discussions on how people are different and families do things differently (clothing, hairstyles, etc). At 5- one of my daughters wore dresses It was a phase and for some reason it was important to her- so I picked my battles.
    As for the ratio:  A 1:10 ratio is awesome. If you can  find it, great and I fully believe that small sizes are vital to learning. But dont expect that most classes, classrooms, programs, etc will have that ratio. Even some Montessori programs dont have that small of a teacher/child ratio.
    I like Montessori- for many families it is a fabulous option. Many students thrive in that setting.
    Maybe Sunday School or church programs and Montessori would fulfill  both the religious aspect and schooling?
    Do what works and you feel is best for your family!! 
  5. sharongl

    sharongl Well-Known Member

    You have gotten some good advise.  One other thought, all the Montessori programs that I have seen are child led--the child chooses what they want to do and when.  In a traditional school, the child is no longer in charge of what they are doing and when (there may be free time, but Math is at Math time, Reading at Reading time, etc.), so it may be that she is struggling with not being in charge.  So that may be some of the issue as well.
  6. maybell

    maybell Well-Known Member

    thanks ladies!!  each reply was wonderful.
    Yeah, I guess I gotta let the dang tiara thing go... surprisingly it doesn't bother my girl... I guess that's what I worried about if that would become some type of power struggle for us, because she was wearing it.  there are uniforms at the school, so technically it's probably not the right color to be a head band!!  haha.  anyway, interesting thought about it giving her confidence if that's what she needs... just so not my style, so I guess it seems silly.
    anyway, yes, if we switch back, I was also thinking about what other church type activities we have and we have the kids program at church and another that's like boy/girl scouts but I would probably beef that up with some type of homeschooling curriculum or something so that I wouldn't feel that was lacking in our lives.
    I do realize that they'll eventually learn to read, and I really am trying to not be all caught up in grades or markings on the progress report, but I just worry that she doesn't seem to have made much progress, if not regressed some. 
    we're also wondering about the possibility of switching her to one of the other K classes.  there are actually 4 classes, I wonder if a fresh start with a new teacher who she likes would be an option.  though I don't think her twin brother would be thrilled he likes having her in the class though I don't know if she cares!  so many factors to think about.
    and YES, I wonder if there's an element that she's not in control of when they study things... great point.  she likes being in control, and I probably need to figure out how to allow her more control at home.  the montessori school has 30 students with 3full teachers and they also have an intern and sometimes another, so really 4 to 5 teachers in that room.  seems like it would be a 1:8 ratio most of the time!
    again, thanks ladies, lots of things to think about!
  7. Dielle

    Dielle Well-Known Member

    Well, I might annoy some teachers here... but I really believe that children often come with their own internal timeline and not all were meant to read at the same time.  I'm not saying don't spend time reading to her and such.  There's a lot of great things that help children eventually become good readers.  But it's not something I stress about at kindergarten age.  Of course, I homeschool so I have a lot more latitude with that.  But I've had kids learn anywhere from 4 to 8 years old.  Sydney JUST jumped from being a beginning reader (Bob books) to easily being at a 3rd grade reading level, in about a month's time.  She's 2nd grade.  And except for Trey (he was almost 9), who's dyslexic, that's been my experience with all of my kids.  When they're ready, as long as the background is there (being read to extensively, knowing their letters, exposure to words in lots of different settings, etc) something clicks.  Trey was a different story and did take more active work, because of the dyslexia.  But even so, when he was finally ready there was a sudden big jump in ability.  And having that love of learning is one of the most important aspects of reading and of all education.  Personally, I would choose an environment that stimulated that love instead of squashing it.
  8. sharongl

    sharongl Well-Known Member

    Dielle, I don't know why you think teachers wouIld disagree with you...children all learn to read at their own time and speed.  That is why I was thrilled when our school district adopted the Guided Reading program for instruction.  They did away with the basal readers, and instruct children at their reading level--they are tested 2 times a year formally to check for large jumps, but otherwise progress as they can throughout the year.  My own boys were similar to your in that one read at 3.5 years, and the other was barely at grade level through the end of 1st grade.  That summer he decided to read and jumped up to his brothers level.
    The job of the teacher (in my mind, and how I teach) is to introduce many methods of learning so that all kids can find what works for them.
  9. maybell

    maybell Well-Known Member

    Thanks again ladies!
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