Sunday, May 28, 2006

Vote: Montessori or Play-Based?

We went to Big Lots the other day and there was a bunch of spaghetti all over the floor. A., of course, went back several times to walk on it. I told him, "Hey, buddy, don't make it a bigger mess than it already is, OK?"

Still skating on the spaghetti, he deepened his voice and said, "Cleanup in aisle 2! Cleanup in aisle 2!" Cracked me up.

We've been laying low licking our wounds lately. G. has more wounds than I do, being the one who got rejected and all. I think he feels like this was our one chance to move up to Portland and he blew it (not saying he did, but that's what it feels like). There really aren't that many jobs up there in our field that pay a living wage, let alone a decent one. Major HMO was the best shot we had. I applied for a different position the day after he found out, but that job appears to be gone now.

I've also been struggling with preschool decisions. The cheapest, best academically school is the Montessori school a couple of miles away, which would seem to be a perfect answer. But, I have mixed feelings about Montessori for preschool.

On the one hand, he loves doing stuff like their "jobs," and would be really well prepared for kindergarten.

On the other hand, he's really imaginative and loves pretend play and there's not as much room for that at Montessori. When people wonder about the lack of creativity in Montessori, I've seen the example of learning the violin used as an answer:

"Like learning how to handle a good violin and then playing music. It is not considered "creative" to use a violin as a hammer, or a bridge while playing with blocks. We consider it "creative" to learn how to use the violin properly and then create music."

Yeah, OK, except these are 3-year-olds and I love that he uses his imagination. He can come up with amazing relationships between things and I'd hate for him to lose that because he was concerned with the "correct" way to use things. I think Montessori might be great for grade school, because it has innovative ways to teach academics, but I don't know about preschool.

On the other hand, it would be one year of preschool (I think, maybe two) and only 3 hours a day. We do lots of pretend stuff at home and it might be a good balance.

I don't know. When I was observing, I tried to picture A. among the very quiet, industrious children there. Each one finished their task and quietly took their tray back to its spot, and got another tray, usually without saying a word. A. tends to announce every move he makes. "I'm done with this now! I'm going to count now!" in a very excited voice (he'd make a great emcee).

We could start and pull him out, I suppose, if it's too stifling. I just want his first school experience to be a good one.

I've also looked at some play-based programs, but I'm afraid he'll get lost and be intimidated in those. I think he could really be a leader at Montessori, and I don't think it would intimidate him at all. I think it fits his brainy side and it wouldn't matter so much that he was scared to do the slide or the rings. I do think he'd wonder why you had to do certain specific things with the sombreros and beans and couldn't say, make up a ring toss game with them. I can totally see him telling the teacher, "But I'm going to play like THIS."

ACK. Anyone have any insight? Psychic abilities? The answers?


Boobless Brigade Master said...

That's how it works. You give it a shot and you can always remove him from the program. If it's only a couple of hours a couple of days a week, perhaps you could enroll him in the other play-based one as well part-time?
Believe it or not...I actually put Daisy in a Methodist pre-school when she was four. Obviously you know that I'm not religious, but I'm not raising Daisy to just automatically believe what I believe. I happened to know the teacher of the class. Although I knew there would be some religious things covered, I also knew she'd benefit from everything else and it was a half-half serious/creative curriculum.
As far as hobbies and interests and Daisy grew we tried everything. She'd try something new (I always made her commit to at least a year) and then she'd end up quitting. Some people scoffed at me, telling me to make her stick with something, but I knew she just hadn't found her nitch yet. She finally found her passion at the age of 10 when we moved here and she was formally introduced to horses!

trisha said...

I have no advice, really, save the follow your gut.

Yes. Follow your gut. You already know the answer.

Sarah O. said...

1. Love your Big Lots story. As I've mentioned before, A. is an amazing kid with a very special (in the good way) brain.

2. Sounds like A. is more the Montessouri type. My son Ethan is also very bright and creative and was bored to death with his play-oriented preschool.

3. You asked me questions on Lemon Life. Alas, I can't get as personal as I'd like on LL because my 14 year old daughter reads it so I gloss over some rants. Too bad because the rants would be so much juicier with all the gooey muck.

---An estate sale means hiring a company to sell most, if not all, of the stuff in your house. It's usually used to clear out Mom & Dad's house after they've died. In our case it's a general purge of our big house furniture and impuse purchases so we can reinvent our lives in 1/4 the space.

---Why the move? Well, Hubby has gone through the world's longest midlife crisis and preferred spending a lot of time away from home. See, we've been sharing a house with his eighty-something parents for 10 years now and our son is bipolar. The parents are fussy and no fun at all and Ethan has been, as you would know, extremely emotional. Plus our normal daughter hasn't been enjoying the home situation at all. Hubby really freaked out when Ethan had to spend two weeks in the Pediatric Psych Dept. at Rush Hospital a few years ago. The whole scene got so bad that, a year ago, Hubby had a girlfriend in Texas and wanted a divorce!

Juicy, huh?

Anyway, something (I have no idea what) knocked Hubby back to his senses. He came to the grips that he, too, is bipolar, started taking his meds and decided to be a functional family member. He's doing great, our family is functioning much, much better and Hubby's ready to cut the cord from his mom & dad. Now we can be a family that lives together rather than be a group of relatives that Hubby has put in our own subsidized housing.

Very juicy, indeed!

Now, I've got this kitschy boy's bedroom furniture and an ugly 20-year old wedding gift collection that've gotta go. Any takers?

Kate said...

I went to Waldorf for preschool and kindergarten and I remember it vividly as a great experience. They are all about imaginative play. There are some charter Waldorf schools that would be free, but they are few and far between. There is one in Mendocino county.

Now I just have to, you know, have kids so I can send them there.

Beastarzmom said...

for the record - one home based daycare (very much just babysitting)= eh. Not great, not bad.
Montessori - teachers encouraged creative play, so I think it totally depends on how hard core the program is.
Play Based - was ok, but I didn't see any huge benefits.
Current daycare says they are "high scope". Also OK, don't see any huge benefits over anything else. If you like the teachers and the turnover is an acceptable rate, you're golden. bottom line - you'll never really know what's really "best" - you will always make the best decision you can with the information available. And that's all you can do...

Deirdre said...

We've had success with Montessori this year. Beforehand I wasn't too concerned about the "creativity" issue because there are plenty of other opportunities for that outside of school. However, on the first day I realized that any small fears were unjustified when the kidlet came home playing pirate as a continuation of the games at recess. The only slightly disconcerting thing is that he now calls doing some of his playthings/crafts "work" even at home.

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