Preschool bleg

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Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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  1. Avatar Rollins
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    says:

    Our fifth grader has been in a Montessori school since she was two, and it’s worked out very well. But anybody can use the word Montessori; check out an individual school on its own merits.

    No experience with Waldorf and its founder, Rudolf Steiner, but it’s got an out-there reputation. No reading until age 7, skeptical on vaccinations, an unconventional spirituality called anthroposophy. Definitely do some research on it to see what you think. The wikipedia pages are a decent start.Report

  2. Avatar Gong
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    says:

    I did Montessori. Probably ratcheted up already high natural kinesthetic processing skills even higher. Waldorf seems overly dogmatic to me. My 3.5 year old daughter will probably end up going to Montessori, she knows how to use all my iPhone/iPad gadgetry, can even text to her parents simple words. Waldorf would make her play with wooden blobs for years and i suspect she would go postal, but i am probably projecting.I dig the self directed play exploration of Montessori a lot. That is worth something to me when it comes to enjoying problem solving on your own and at your own tune and ‘tude.Report

  3. Avatar Aaron
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    says:

    We have nothing against the local public schools. Our former neighborhood school had what appeared to be a good kindergarten program; but we moved during the summer. We then ran into difficulty trying to see the new school, or even to formally enroll – first we were told “Call back in mid-August,” then it was the first week of September “and don’t count on morning kindergarten” (there’s no before-care available for afternoon kindergarten), so we explored other options.

    We have a good, K-12 Waldorf program in the community. We know some of the teens who have emerged from that program – good, centered kids with a strong sense of self, good social relationships and a strong sense of community. The art program is highly structured, but produces some amazing results. A number of parents we know selected the program because of its emphasis on providing a safe, calming environment (particularly in kindergarten); one, for example, had a daughter who froze like a deer in the headlights when it came to socializing with her same-aged peers, and it’s really hard to dispute that the program did wonders for her. The late introduction of academics, although no-doubt making it harder to transition to public schools during early elementary, doesn’t appear to be an issue with the older kids; but I don’t discount the fact that the parents tend to be affluent and highly educate, and value education. We looked at the school and strongly considered it, given our child’s interest in art, but we did not want her to spend two years in a decidedly non-academic (but at the same time very warm, calming and centering) kindergarten. Another factor, although not a deciding factor, was the programs emphasis on avoiding popular culture and electronic media; due to the nature of my work and that of my wife, it would be difficult for us to avoid working on computers in the evening, potentially creating a “do as we say, not as we do” environment.

    We ended up choosing a Montessori school, a K-6 program. It departs from classic Montessori in how it divides grades, and is very conscious of possible transitions to public school (particularly after kindergarten and fifth grade). Our daughter enjoys doing her works. (We could see that during our tour, when the kindergarten teacher gently tested our daughter’s preparedness for school and responsiveness to the Montessori model.) We enjoy the self-pacing of the program (although that concept, before I saw it in action, made me a bit nervous). The school’s reading and writing programs in grades 1-2 produce some impressive results. Our school has implemented a number of safeguards to monitor student progress between years, and to ease transitions between classrooms. As previously noted, Montessori schools can be very different from each other.Report

    • Avatar Aaron in reply to Aaron
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      says:

      I should add, given that the principal focus of your inquiry is on preschool, that we sent our daughter to a play-centered preschool. There was an educational component, but the primary focus was on play and socialization (in the sense of training kids how to interact with their peers, stand up for themselves, and resolve disputes). This is not the type of program that is easily classified, nor is it an approach I would endorse without saying “take a thorough look at the school, its programs, and watch the kids play and the teachers interact with the children and each other before you decide.” But this one worked for us, and it was a very positive environment for our child.Report

  4. Avatar JL Wall
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    says:

    This is probably tremendously late and/or of very little substance, but: the child of a family friend here in KY went to a Waldorf school and really thrived there (I helped teach him at Hebrew school, so I saw some of the growth up close); his parents credited the school a lot. But I know nothing about their style. Anyway, best of luck if you’re still at it.Report

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