Author Topic: Is anyone spending a lot on Montessori schools and think its totally worth it?  (Read 25382 times)

jeastith

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My husband and I are preparing to move soon, and we're waffling between buying a more expensive home in a great school district or a cheaper home in a not great district, but where there is a great Montessori school available. 

Money-wise, the property taxes are around $7000/year in the "great school district" which is cheaper than the "$13,000" annual price tag of the Montessori school we like.  Actually, we love it.  We toured the Montessori school, and it is such a wonderful little community, plus the kids seem really excited by the hands on learning (unlike my own school experience where I was bored to death and resentful that I just had to memorize stuff and spit it back out) 

But its a bit hard to swallow the price tag, especially with the fact that we want another child.  $30,000 a year for school???  Yikes. 

I should add that we might be able to get some financial assistance on this, but the bill would still be huge. 

Is the whole "good schools" thing overrated anyway like MMM seems to say in his article on this?

If you aren't familiar with Montessori, here's a great, short video on the basic premise.  Its wonderful.  My nephew is in Montessori school and is so bright and inquisitive, just like this video says. 
http://www.inlyschool.org/about-inly/why-montessori.cfm

Input from people who have been through this would be much appreciated! 
Jeannie 

« Last Edit: May 30, 2014, 10:32:56 AM by jeastith »

ervet

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I am relatively new to this blog, feel inspired, and realize that I am living a decidedly anti-mustachian lifestyle so far. My husband and I are already discussing some large changes in our lifestyle and life-plan to become more mustachian. HOWEVER, one thing I am not willing to compromise on is Montessori school. My 2 year old son is in a private toddler program that he will attend from 1-3 years of age. We just had a second son who will attend the same program. We spend $10,000 a year on this program. I just keep finding more and more evidence that the Montessori method WORKS and is one of the best ways to educate young children so that they become emotionally intelligent little people, which is far more correlated with success in life than academics, per se.

Google Steven Hughes and Montessori for some compelling info from a pediatric neuropsychologist on why he sends his kids to Montessori school. Its a presentation called "good at doing things."

The way we are going to try to make it work financially is to live in an area where we can enroll both boys in a public Montessori program at age 3. For the preschool years, we will still have to pay, but it will be far less than at a private Montessori program, and by kindergarten its free! Montessori for free?!!!

We honestly feel that the money spent now, while their little brains are in their fastest stage of development, is more important than money spent on college educations. So we aren't saving for college while we are putting that $10,000 into their early childhood education now.

My 2 cents. Send him to the Montessori school!!!

rogera

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There may be another compromise to consider, depending on your area.

We put both our kids in a daycare that used many montessori principles but wasn't a montesorri school per se. It was about half the price of a regular montessori but easily the most expensive "regular" day care in town. It might be worth looking around to see if there is a compromise. Our second grader is very ahead of the class due to the years spent there and our 3 year old who is at the school now will enter kindegarten a year early due to the teaching there. It was a good compromise for us.

Freedom2016

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Is this Montessori school pre-school only, or is it PreK-6, or 8, or HS?

If you are looking at pre-school only I am not sure that it's wise to base a long-term housing purchase decision on a factor that will only affect you for 2-3 years. Where would your kids go to school AFTER Montessori in the less-good area, and how does that compare to the schools they would attend in the better area?

Maybe I'm misunderstanding something but in my area Montessori is only for pre-school.
 

catccc

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We considered Montessori, but ended up liking a Friends school more.  It was not the least expensive choice, so I see where you are coming from.  We are doing this only through K (the school stops at K), hoping to instill a lifelong love of learning in our kids.  I think most shortfalls in public schools (although we are lucky they are great in our area!) can easily be compensated with learning at home.

Are you having any more kids?  If we only had one, I might consider (but ultimately probably would decide against) continuing at great Friends school in the area.  ($40K a year in HS, I believe, and that is in today's dollars)  But for two, no way, not when there are great schools in the area.

Also, just on Montessori, I think it is great for a younger age group, but I think as kids get older, the wide range of ages in a class don't make as much sense.  Just my personal opinion, obviously.

PindyStache

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Just to clarify--"Montessori" isn't trademarked so an be used by anyone to describe any type of educational program. Of course most are at the very least trying to carry out the general themes of an educational program defined by Maria Montessori. There are certifying bodies for "official" Montessori programs (both entire schools and individual teachers can be certified). This certification obviously costs money, so results in situations like what rogera describes. Another level of compromise may be a school/program that is NOT officially certified but has at least lead educators that ARE.

This also means that "Montessori" can describe any grade level of education. Theoretically her approach covers age 0-24. However, no "official" Montessori program exists for students beyond age 12 because she died before these programs were defined. The "official" programs that were defined by Maria Montessori are very rigorous and specific in what they define for classroom activities--well beyond (but certainly drawing from) a general concept of child development she articulated. Thus any Montessori program for students older than age 12 will be an adaption.

Food for thought... the take-away would be to carefully investigate a Montessori school to ensure that they aren't just using the name and charging more for an education that is fundamentally very similar to something more "traditional." Sounds like the OP has already done this to some extent.

keepitsimple

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Mom of two Montessori kids here (currently 3rd and 7th grade).  I can say without a doubt that their school is an absolute priority for our family.  I can, and am more than willing,  to work an extra few years to give them that opportunity.  It's that important to us.  No doubt there is a serious time and financial commitment involved.  Our situation leads to commuting expenses that we otherwise would not have (DH is a telecommuter, I live 3 miles from work), yet the kids school is over 30 miles away (more than willing to accept required face-punches).  We still have several more years as our school goes through 8th grade, but then look forward to a more mustachian commuting situation.

You have to do your own cost/benefit analysis of course.  Anecdotally I receive many compliments (often from my public-school-teaching friends) on my kids' maturity,  ability to converse intelligently on diverse subjects, and community-mindedness.  Someone here stated that as children age the multi-grade classes don't make sense.  They are dead wrong.  Montessori was a genius of childhood development.  She knew that when children are in mixed groups the younger ones get a chance to learn from and be inspired to increasing heights by the older students in the group, and the oldest ones learn patience, mentoring, and reinforcement of skills by explaining and helping younger students.  This turns out children who are less self-absorbed and more empathetic and are comfortable in both learning and teaching roles.   Exactly the qualities I want to see in my children.  Additionally Montessori allows the flexibility for kids to follow their interests and pursue them as deeply as they wish.  Teachers act as advisers, pointing the children to materials that can help further their understanding and research of any given subject.  Sounds very Mustachian, no?

As a side-note my oldest son's classmate just won the National Spelling Bee (well, co-winner).  How cool is that??

Dee18

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My daughter will be a senior this year at a private school.  Despite living in a school district with top ranked schools, I moved her to a private school several years ago.  I only wish I had done it sooner.  She has blossomed there.  Every child is different.  I attended all public schools and received an excellent education, but my well-behaved introverted daughter was just coasting along in public schools, earning all A's but not speaking in class and not being challenged.  Now that she is beginning the college application process, I am thrilled at how prepared she is for college---both intellectually and with the skills fostered by a private school that required students to take on responsibility for interacting with teachers in and out of class.  If I could only afford private school for part of my child's education, I would save it for the older years when students are very influenced by peers.  With young children you can emulate Montessori or other techniques at home.  Teens are much more influenced by their peers.  My daughter describes her school a a place where "it is not cool to be dumb" and the public school as a place where "it was not cool to be smart.

boarder42

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So i'm coming from the super outside here.  And i am a very smart dude and somehow managed to make a good living for myself not attending an overpriced daycare or school system growing up.   preschool followed by a rural 142 kid per grade k-12 school followed by an affordable engineering college in the state. 

Cool to be smart and Cool to be dumb are all in how you raise your kids as well.  To me using any of these schools( private/overpriced places) is an outsourcing of duties as a parent that IMO is pretty unmustacian. 

If you want your kid to value intelligence and follow the teaching of a lady who lived in the early 1900s the Mustachian thing to do in my opinion would be to learn these teachings yourself and work them in during the non school time with a circle of close friends = very mustachian.

The cool to be dumb and smart thing still gets to me.  You as a parent can step in and ask teachers to challenge your kids or you can do it yourself I know my parents did it.  Maybe it was a change of pace or her maturing that made her more outgoing in a private school setting lots of things change in teenage years.  I coasted thru Grade school and College and was hardly challenged.  It doesnt mean i got a bad public school education.  Does it mean maybe i left something on the table ... possibly but i'll be FI by 37 easily so what was the real value there.

The concept i'll agree is mustachian paying 10's of thousands of dollars to put your kid in a school like that is antimustachian i believe.  I mean the real question is does 10k per year compounded over 18 years have a greater ROI for your child later in life than just investing it. 

i have so many thoughts on this - you really need to understand what value that education is providing for the insanely high price.  If anything you're instilling in your kids the fact that a public university is a place for dumb kids to keep getting cooler and that gong to harvard is the only way to be smart and cool. 

At the end of the day is the watch at neiman marcus thats the same as the watch on amazon really worth more b/c of the pretty sales lady telling you you need it? 

Serious question here how long have these schools really been around and accepted by society. it seems only recently they have been on the rise in america.  So we musta raised alotta dumb redneck SOBs before these montessori schools went mainstream. 

JoyBlogette

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So i'm coming from the super outside here.  And i am a very smart dude and somehow managed to make a good living for myself not attending an overpriced daycare or school system growing up.   preschool followed by a rural 142 kid per grade k-12 school followed by an affordable engineering college in the state. 

Cool to be smart and Cool to be dumb are all in how you raise your kids as well.  To me using any of these schools( private/overpriced places) is an outsourcing of duties as a parent that IMO is pretty unmustacian. 

As a pretty smart lady myself, I totally agree with this.  I was top 3 of my highschool class every year in a class of 500+ kids at a rural public school that had over 2000 students.  Teaching your kids to enjoy learning starts at home.  The best way to learn about the world is to experience it.  Spend time with your kids, travel, read and introduce them to new things.  I don't think a fancy school is necessary to succeed in life.  If you invested that $10,000 per year per child until they graduated highschool/college/university you could give them a much better headstart in life.

deborah

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My brother has two children who both went to Montessori school. One thrived - but it was the worst school they could have sent the other child to. The Montessori methods do work - Maria Montessori was given a school for idiots and using her methods, many of these children gained their school certificates (something unheard of). Her methods do also work for very bright children (like my niece).

However it is a very structured method of learning, so a child who rebels against structure is not going to do at all well. My brother had years of problems with my nephew, even when he was moved to another school. The first few years at Montessori did him a lot of damage.

I reiterate that my niece thrived, and it was the best school she could have gone to. Unfortunately my brother and his wife were so committed to this method that they didn't see the damage it was doing to my nephew.

keepitsimple

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For the record, I also attended public school and am no worse for wear.  I came out of it with a 4 year full-ride scholarship to a prestigious 4 year private university.  I credit my teacher mom, and my small public school in a university town.  That being said, every time I go to my sons' school, I wish that I had had the same opportunity.  I was good at taking tests and doing what was expected (still am).  I didn't know you could challenge the assumptions.

I have to giggle a little when I see Montessori schools referred to as fancy.  These are not elite prep schools.  They are schools that foster independence in both learning and everyday activities.  Kids are expected to take care of themselves and their environment and to collaborate as partners with their teachers.  For me, it's pretty much how I would teach my children if I chose to do it all myself.  Yes, it is outsourcing (so is public school) but I don't feel like I could effectively replace the social benefits they get from attending school with other children were I to homeschool them.  So if I am going to outsource, why not pick the best value?  To me, that's Montessori.

As far as a parent's obligation to teach their children themselves. I bet you'd be hard-pressed to find a parent who bothers to send their children to Montessori who doesn't instill those same values at home.  Of course we read, travel and introduce new things to our children and also  teach them to find their own identity.  That's what involved parents do.

And as for investing the $ instead to give them a "headstart" later on.  Why on earth would I do that?  And cheat them of the chance to earn it themselves?  That's not a hand-up, it's a hand-out.  By the age of 18 they should be independent enough to work/earn a college education and find their own way in life.  I teach them independence now so that they are well-equipped to do this later.  That's my gift to them.

boarder42

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The best car you can buy judged based on price and luxuries is the equivalent of saying a montessori school has value over a standard school.   i mean who is to say your niece wouldnt have thrived in a public school as well.

I mean even half mustachian = good public school >>>>>>>> high priced specialty teach method.  just like
older used car with good gas mileage >>>>>>>>>> SUV with 3 rows of seating heated seats TV's in the headrests....

In my observation people will use just about any excuse to justify spending large amounts of money on children "i want them to have the best (fill in the blank) 

IMO the best thing you can do for your kids is teach them your values and set the example at home.  I traveled dang near 80% of this country before i left for college all affordably b/c my parents are frugal people (not MMM but decenly value based).   Had my parents put me in montessori i bet we dont afford this.  had i done the expensive traveling teams i bet i only played one sport and all our travel centered around sport. 

Just thinking out loud but wouldnt a better use of that 10k be to take the summer off and stay home with your kids.  2 kids thats 20k.  take 1/4 of your salary i bet thats in the ballpark.  and now you're saving summer day care. 

shoot rent a campervan and take them on tour of the nations great national parks over the summer. 

any school that costs more than a school that you're already paying taxes to attend by living in a given area is a "fancy elite prep school" 

You can make this arguement with anything... somehow kids fall into this special trap that parents throw money at thinking thats the solution to them having a good life... you can argue why a landrover makes sense b/c it keeps your kids safer than a hatchback tiny car etc. 

at the end of the day i see the age old trap and self fullfilling proficy with this idea that you're getting that much better education at the private school. 

CarDude

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The best car you can buy judged based on price and luxuries is the equivalent of saying a montessori school has value over a standard school.   i mean who is to say your niece wouldnt have thrived in a public school as well.

I mean even half mustachian = good public school >>>>>>>> high priced specialty teach method.  just like
older used car with good gas mileage >>>>>>>>>> SUV with 3 rows of seating heated seats TV's in the headrests....

Sidestepping the Montessori issue (although, personally, I fully support parents sending their kids to them if it's affordable and a good fit for the kids), I have to quibble with the car analogy, as it's not nearly that clear cut. While there are plenty of old used cars that get great mileage, there could be plenty of reasons to choose the big fat SUV / minivan over them, including those related to transport (e.g., try fitting 2 parents and 3 properly restrained young children in a Geo Metro vs. a Honda Pilot / Odyssey) or safety (e.g., side airbags and ESC are two lifesaving features you simply won't find in any high-mileage car before the mid-2000s).

Different folks have different needs, and whether in education, car selection, or...many things, we've got to watch out for absolutes.
« Last Edit: May 30, 2014, 04:10:46 PM by CarSafetyGuy »

deborah

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The best car you can buy judged based on price and luxuries is the equivalent of saying a montessori school has value over a standard school.   i mean who is to say your niece wouldnt have thrived in a public school as well.
She may well have thrived in a public school.

The topic was Montessori schools, and whether they were worth it. My point was that people should try to match the school to the child, and not assume that a good school (in this case Montessori) is good for every child.

I have a friend who is very happy with a Steiner school. Her son was having a lot of problems at the pubic school, and thrived at the Steiner school. His sister was very unhappy when they moved her too, and they ended up sending her back to the public school. They are now about to have a fight with her about what secondary school she will attend. I am not convinced that moving the son was good for him, as he had underlying learning difficulties the public school was trying to address. Because the Steiner school is very craft based, his underlying learning difficulties were not addressed there, and now, 4 years later, they are suddenly an insurmountable difficulty to his later secondary years. At least he has been happy at school for the past 4 years, which he wasn't before.

CarDude

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My brother has two children who both went to Montessori school. One thrived - but it was the worst school they could have sent the other child to. The Montessori methods do work - Maria Montessori was given a school for idiots and using her methods, many of these children gained their school certificates (something unheard of). Her methods do also work for very bright children (like my niece).

However it is a very structured method of learning, so a child who rebels against structure is not going to do at all well. My brother had years of problems with my nephew, even when he was moved to another school. The first few years at Montessori did him a lot of damage.

I reiterate that my niece thrived, and it was the best school she could have gone to. Unfortunately my brother and his wife were so committed to this method that they didn't see the damage it was doing to my nephew.

Interesting! I agree completely with you about the school-child fit being so important, but I almost never have seen it described as structured in the way you are. If anything, the children I've heard of having trouble with Montessori schooling are those who can't handle the *lack* of structure, and who need more routines and direction built into their days.

boarder42

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l disagree about where you will find a high mileage car.  i have a 2008 ford escape hybrid i picked up 2 years ago from my company fleet for 5200 dollars with 150k miles.  i pull over 45 mpg's in the thing. 

same analogy can be used for schools i can go live in the inner city of KC where i'm from and be forced to send my kids to private school since KC is unaccredited at the moment.  But in the case of the OPs question she/he has shopped her market and knows they will move.  and she has found a public school community thats a great school and is more affordable.  If you have the ability to shop your market area for a school i think thats very equivalent to shopping for a car and choosing the high mileaged older car with a lower fee than the newer fancier car that will cost you much more upfront. 

to simplify a car gets you from point A to point B.  And as a means of transportation you want to make that as efficient as possible.  A school does the same thing for your children.  Gets them from point A to point B... and most pro montessori people here must think that point B is worth ~300k in value (at 10k compounded at 6% over 18 years and thats all today's dollars) more and puts your kid 300k in front of the kids in a similar high rated public school in the same area. If you can see that value in your kids knowledge over that time great but i just have a hard time believing there is that kinda value in that education over the one the rest of society receives. 

deborah

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Interesting! I agree completely with you about the school-child fit being so important, but I almost never have seen it described as structured in the way you are. If anything, the children I've heard of having trouble with Montessori schooling are those who can't handle the *lack* of structure, and who need more routines and direction built into their days.
Children are taught to do things a particular way - fold their clothes a certain way, start the morning by going through a certain routine (including say good morning a certain way)... Things are broken up into small tasks so children can do them much younger than you would think, but there is a lot of structure in the tasks. If you read one of the Montessori books (the ones she wrote herself) she developed it this way to try to get children who had been classified as unteachable to learn. The children in the schools can choose to do whatever task they fancy.

boarder42

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wait whoa so everyone is now sending their children to a school that was invented to train kids who werent good at learning already... ok so i can see the value in it if you have a struggling child... but the way in which you just stated that she basically turned them into privates in the army ... but with the freedom to choose what mandated task they wanted to do. 

dragoncar

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No idea what it cost, but I did Montessori preschool and I'm a badass.

boarder42

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i didnt and i'm a badass... so i guess from that large sample size we can conclude its 100% the same meaning cost effective is better

dragoncar

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i didnt and i'm a badass... so i guess from that large sample size we can conclude its 100% the same meaning cost effective is better

Nah ah, I already called badass, no copies. 

keepitsimple

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My son just completed one year at our Montessori school. It was his sixth grade year. It was not good for him at all. The "features" of Montessori that people like are the way we do things in my home because that us what works. He came in to a classroom of 4-6th graders, and as one of the older kids, he already knew the material they were covering in class. He was not given any material at his grade level, and the other kids in the classroom were below grade level on basic concepts (such as, just learning their multiplication facts and very poor spelling). The materials in the classroom capped at sixth grade level. When I asked the teacher if she felt she had been able to determine my child's level so that he could be educated, she said no, that they didn't have material for his level. So, he spent a year doing comparable math and language arts to his four years younger average brother.

Not that all Montessori schools are incompetent or anything, but this one didn't offer my son anything. It was a waste of time and money. It may be that it is best for lower grades, but I wouldn't advise it for upper elementary.

That's a disappointing experience!  Just goes to show not all schools are the same no matter what method they use.  Need to evaluate each one separately.  Our school makes a point of matching kids to their levels.  Sometimes Lower-EL kids go to the Upper-El class for math; my son was able to get the 4th and 5th grade spelling materials when he was in 3rd.  In fact like I mentioned previously one of my son's classmates just won the National Spelling Bee.  When I used to ask him about the spelling group set-up in Upper-EL he would tell me:  "There's the yellow group, the green group, the blue group, and then there's Sriram, he has his own group":)

keepitsimple

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to simplify a car gets you from point A to point B.  And as a means of transportation you want to make that as efficient as possible.  A school does the same thing for your children.  Gets them from point A to point B... and most pro montessori people here must think that point B is worth ~300k in value (at 10k compounded at 6% over 18 years and thats all today's dollars) more and puts your kid 300k in front of the kids in a similar high rated public school in the same area. If you can see that value in your kids knowledge over that time great but i just have a hard time believing there is that kinda value in that education over the one the rest of society receives.

Education is not a means to get from point A to point B!  It is about the development of self, cultivation of skills, and forming your world view.  Imagine if MMM thought the only reason to learn was to get a job? To me success isn't defined by the type of job you have or how much $ you make.  It's what you do in this world and how content you are with your place in it.  I guess that's why I see this as a different issue than the type of car, watch, etc that one might buy.

CarDude

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to simplify a car gets you from point A to point B.  And as a means of transportation you want to make that as efficient as possible.  A school does the same thing for your children.

Whoa, that's too much simplification for me. What's efficient will vary depending on your needs, which is part of why there are different kinds of vehicles (e.g., cars vs. minivans). And schools, as keepitsimple pointed out, aren't just ways of getting children from point A to point B. Children aren't packages and a school isn't a UPS truck.

boarder42

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so children arent packages BUT you have say 7 different options to get them from a to b .... its your choice how you get them there... but i 100% think ya'll are kidding yourselves thinking that 300k buried in lower level education is actually a responsible way to raise your child...   

YOU ARE OUTSOURCING

core fundamental of mustachianism is to not OUTSOURCE.   


If none of you montessori people see it this way keep living with your blinders on.  life is life ... based on how montessori was founded ... if your child flourishes here great .... but this was founded to help kids WHO HAVE TROUBLE LEARNING .... maybe you look at what you're doing at home before you fork out 10s of Ks of dollars to send your kid to a school..

SnpKraklePhyz

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Boarder42- do you have kids?

God or Mammon?

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so children arent packages BUT you have say 7 different options to get them from a to b .... its your choice how you get them there... but i 100% think ya'll are kidding yourselves thinking that 300k buried in lower level education is actually a responsible way to raise your child...   

YOU ARE OUTSOURCING

core fundamental of mustachianism is to not OUTSOURCE.   


If none of you montessori people see it this way keep living with your blinders on.  life is life ... based on how montessori was founded ... if your child flourishes here great .... but this was founded to help kids WHO HAVE TROUBLE LEARNING .... maybe you look at what you're doing at home before you fork out 10s of Ks of dollars to send your kid to a school..

If this is the logic that results from a public school education then the OP's choice is quite simple: Montessori all the way

Daleth

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Interesting! I agree completely with you about the school-child fit being so important, but I almost never have seen it described as structured in the way you are. If anything, the children I've heard of having trouble with Montessori schooling are those who can't handle the *lack* of structure, and who need more routines and direction built into their days.
Children are taught to do things a particular way - fold their clothes a certain way, start the morning by going through a certain routine (including say good morning a certain way)... Things are broken up into small tasks so children can do them much younger than you would think, but there is a lot of structure in the tasks.

I could not be more mystified by your description of Montessori. My mother was a Montessori teacher, I went to Montessori preschool and spent about half of K-12 in a Montessori school, married a man who also went to Montessori school and have been looking into starting a Montessori school in my town (I'm not a teacher--I would hire one). And NOTHING of what you have said sounds remotely familiar: fold clothes a certain way?! Routines?! Say good morning a certain way?! The only routine we had in the morning was sitting in a circle and talking. Then we went about our day.

I also don't recognize the concept of things being "broken up in small tasks" to enable kids to do them young. Both those concepts--the small tasks and the kids doing everything young--sound off to me. Montessori doesn't take a normal way of doing a task and break it into small pieces so kids can do it; most tasks/games are entirely Montessori in origin and done in a different way than other schools do it--not a "broken into small tasks" way but a different way. And the goal isn't for all the kids to do stuff early, but to have them all develop at their own pace. The point of putting multiple ages together in one classroom is that some kids do X early (reading, math, etc.), some do it late, and some do it at around the average time, so you might get a group of kids reading kids' novels that has a few 6-7 year olds, a bunch of 8-10 year olds and a couple of 11-12 year olds. Those same 11-12 year olds who are reading with younger kids may have been doing math with older kids since they were 5, and may be well beyond elementary level in math by age 11-12.

So, what I'm saying is just because a school calls itself a Montessori school does not mean that everything that it does is Montessori. (I'm guessing the school you're describing called itself Montessori but also had its own ideas about structure, routine, etc., and used those ideas). Neither Maria Montessori nor her organization (AMI, the Association Montessori Internationale) ever trademarked the name, so anyone can use it. The way you can know whether it's a real Montessori school is whether it is accredited by either the AMI or the AMS (American Montessori Society). You can search for accredited schools on those organizations' websites (AMI: http://amiusa.org/school-locator-2/ AMS: http://amshq.org/School-Resources/AMS-Member-Schools).

For the record, I massively support the idea of finding the right school for each of your kids and if that school is private, paying for it. It makes a lot more sense to me to set the child up with a love of learning and an educational environment that really suits them, and to do that early, rather than to just stick them in the local public school and concentrate your educational spending on college. If they are in an environment that suits them and they develop the love of learning and the creativity and initiative that Montessori (and some other approaches) provides, they will do fine in high school and college. Most of the Montessori kids I knew did something interesting for college (e.g. went to study in a foreign country instead of staying in the US, or did an interesting project during a gap year which not only was a great experience but helped them get into a school or get a scholarship...).

And I massively support Montessori, although not every "Montessori" school, since many of them are only loosely Montessori at best.

CarDude

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Interesting! I agree completely with you about the school-child fit being so important, but I almost never have seen it described as structured in the way you are. If anything, the children I've heard of having trouble with Montessori schooling are those who can't handle the *lack* of structure, and who need more routines and direction built into their days.
Children are taught to do things a particular way - fold their clothes a certain way, start the morning by going through a certain routine (including say good morning a certain way)... Things are broken up into small tasks so children can do them much younger than you would think, but there is a lot of structure in the tasks. If you read one of the Montessori books (the ones she wrote herself) she developed it this way to try to get children who had been classified as unteachable to learn. The children in the schools can choose to do whatever task they fancy.

I have to be honest...your descriptions sound very much like the antithesis of Montessori schooling, or at least like a completely different strain than what I'm familiar with. I've read her work and recently read some books from  experienced Montessori teachers who've adapted her work for the modern age, and the focus is always on being responsive to the individual child's interests and fostering independence, not compliance. Yes, children are shown ways to accomplish tasks, but...I do feel the Montessori school your nephews went to was more on the disciplinarian end of things than on core Montessori principles.
« Last Edit: June 04, 2014, 11:08:18 AM by CarSafetyGuy »

yyc-phil

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So i'm coming from the super outside here.  And i am a very smart dude and somehow managed to make a good living for myself not attending an overpriced daycare or school system growing up.   preschool followed by a rural 142 kid per grade k-12 school followed by an affordable engineering college in the state. 

Cool to be smart and Cool to be dumb are all in how you raise your kids as well.  To me using any of these schools( private/overpriced places) is an outsourcing of duties as a parent that IMO is pretty unmustacian. 

As a pretty smart lady myself, I totally agree with this.  I was top 3 of my highschool class every year in a class of 500+ kids at a rural public school that had over 2000 students.  Teaching your kids to enjoy learning starts at home.  The best way to learn about the world is to experience it.  Spend time with your kids, travel, read and introduce them to new things.  I don't think a fancy school is necessary to succeed in life.  If you invested that $10,000 per year per child until they graduated highschool/college/university you could give them a much better headstart in life.

+1

frugledoc

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Sounds like a massive anti mustachian waste of money to me.

The most important thing is to train your kids not to be consumer suckers.  All these spendy educations are just bringing them up to be another sheep in the rat race. 

I'd rather give my kids the money when they are older so they can start their own business.

Gray Matter

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Interesting! I agree completely with you about the school-child fit being so important, but I almost never have seen it described as structured in the way you are. If anything, the children I've heard of having trouble with Montessori schooling are those who can't handle the *lack* of structure, and who need more routines and direction built into their days.
Children are taught to do things a particular way - fold their clothes a certain way, start the morning by going through a certain routine (including say good morning a certain way)... Things are broken up into small tasks so children can do them much younger than you would think, but there is a lot of structure in the tasks. If you read one of the Montessori books (the ones she wrote herself) she developed it this way to try to get children who had been classified as unteachable to learn. The children in the schools can choose to do whatever task they fancy.

I have to be honest...your descriptions sound very much like the antithesis of Montessori schooling, or at least like a completely different strain than what I'm familiar with. I've read her work and recently read some books from  experienced Montessori teachers (e.g., Montessori from the start or How to raise an amazing child the Montessori way) who've adapted her work for the modern age, and the focus is always on being responsive to the individual child's interests and fostering independence, not compliance. Yes, children are shown ways to accomplish tasks, but...I do feel the Montessori school your nephews went to was more on the disciplinarian end of things than on core Montessori principles.

We had a similar experience with Montessori.  I wouldn't say they were rigid, but definitely structured.  The kids were given a lot of independence and accountability, but the emphasis was on "work" and they were definitely taught how to do things a certain way.  I was amazed when I visited and my four-year-old showed me that he could make himself oatmeal and wash, dry and put away the dishes (this is a kid who couldn't/wouldn't even wipe his own bum at home). 

I like Montossori and it was a great fit for one of my kids, but not for the other (she rebelled against the structure and would do things like strip off all her clothes and run naked down the hall--granted, she was only two or three, but still, she just needed to bust out!).  The school had some sort of certification, but perhaps not THE certification, so I don't know if this is indicative of Montessori schools or not.

I personally would chose a neighborhood with better schools, assuming I like the neighborhood, than commit to spending all that money year over year on their schooling.  In theory, you should get back some of what you pay for a more expensive house when you sell.  But then again, I'm a strong supporter of public, community schools, and I love that my kids can walk to school, their friends house, etc.

But, a very personal decision.  Good luck with it!

Daleth

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All these spendy educations are just bringing them up to be another sheep in the rat race. 

It is just not accurate to tar ALL private schools with the same brush. I went to both Montessori and very good public schools (and for a couple of years, a private prep school), and I found that the public and prep schools implicitly but very strongly promoted conformity--in other words, sheep-ness--while the Montessori schools promoted individuality, self-reliance and creativity. It certainly wasn't at the Montessori schools that I felt pressure from peers to wear "the right" clothes or have parents with "the right" jobs or "the right" car.

Thegoblinchief

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Consider also the types of families you'll be interacting with at such an incredibly expensive school. My parents initially went deep into their pockets for a private school, which gave us an excellent academic foundation, but the cultural differences between the upper class suburbanites and our frugal lower middle class family really gave my older sister problems fitting in.

I couldn't even think of affording such an expensive school for my kids. Whether it's worth it or not is up to you, but personally the Montessori methods as I understand them, don't appeal.

MoneyCat

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My wife went to Montessori schools and I went to public schools.  We are both now professionals with post-graduate degrees.  The real difference in school choice is being able to send your kids to a school where they can learn without having kids around them throwing things, bullying them, being insubordinate to the teacher, or anything else that distracts from the learning process.  Generally, you can avoid those problems if your kids go to school in areas that aren't low-income.

totoro

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Parents want what is best for their kids.  It is partly ego driven.  I think it is often less about child-school match and more about parent-school match.  While parents are often in a good place to judge quality of education, a lot of child potential is about other stuff like innate ability, stress levels, happiness at home, and being exposure to interesting experiences.

My kids go to public school, but they also live in a very affluent area and went to some high-end preschools because of my need to feel like I'm giving them opportunities and a "good learning environment".  I offered to send them to private school and they turned it down.  It was more for me because their friends in public school are way too important for them to make that change.  I suppose if they had gone to private school earlier it would have been the same thing in reverse.  Friends are a big factor too.

My thoughts on Montessori are:

1.  Seems like a good program that a parent could feel comfortable with, like they are being a good parent by putting their kid in it.
2.  I've know lots of kids who have gone through Montessori and I'm not sure it made a huge difference in the end.  Parenting definitely makes a huge difference.
3.  If parents are working FT school might become much more important.  Montessori could well be worth it.
4.  If one parent is not working they can provide a lot more to kids than Montessori does if they are motivated that way.
5.  $10,000 (or $20,000 for two) after tax is a fair sum and could, in some cases, make it possible for a parent to stay at home.

johnintaiwan

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From what I remember my public school until 6th grade was pretty Montessori-ish. We would have science time and the teacher would teach us about something and then have a lot of activities to do by ourselves using what she taught. Same with the other subjects.

I think the teacher is more important than the name on the school. A good teacher should be able to motivate students and get them interested in the material.  If the teacher is just talking at students and assigning homework and giving tests, then in my opinion that is not teaching. That is just a lazy teacher, or maybe a teacher trying to get by and follow whatever the administration has decided she must do in class.

I always got very good grades at my public school, but my parents played a big role in that as well. Everyday they would look over my homework and find ways to extend the learning at home by investigating things connected to what we were learning. I think this is even better than going to a Montessori school because it brings learning out of the classroom and you get your parents attention at the same time.

sherika

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Chiming in somewhat late but feel I had something to offer.

We did the Montessori thing when I worked part time when my oldest was 2.  Got pregnant, had another baby, stayed home again.  When he turned 4 we wanted to get him back to Montessori, and so we drove 30 miles EACH way to this super nice Montessori school with THE certification, that of course was going to cost us an arm and a leg to go to.  On a ridiculous number of acres, gorgeous building, farm where they grew some of their own food that was cooked for the lunches, etc. Sounds and appeared fabulous!

Problem?  My son hated it.  HATED it.  Cried every morning.  Would always be fine after we left him though, so we pressed on.  1/4 way through we did conferences and talked about some possible solutions.  He's a high energy kid.needs more outdoor/play time, please give him more opportunities to "choose" that work, etc.  I could go on and on about this, but long story short, it was a horrible fit for him, he was not happy, I hated the drive, etc.  I went to observe him and saw how bored out of his mind he was.  I thought that the independence and freedom to choose his works, etc would mean he'd be happier and could focus on his interests more, but that wasn't the case.  He wanted to do works that the older (5 and 6 yo) were doing and he (per the teacher) wasn't quite ready for.  So he hated the works she limited him too (there IS a focus and a way some things have to be taught in sequence, especially with mathematics in Montessori).  Then really close to winter break they told us they wanted him (4.5 yo) tested for ADD/ADHD.  So, we told them we were done, would not be returning and I started to seriously think about homeschooling him (I was prepared for him to attend K in the fall).  The next week he told me he wanted to go check out the neighborhood preschool where a neighbor boy went, so we went and toured it and he loved it.  We also made the choice to not send him that fall to K, but wait an extra year instead (summer birthday) and so he had 1.5 years of pre-k at a school that he adored and he is now a happy, thriving 1st grader at the public school less than 2 miles from our house. 

(There's a lot more to it, obviously, like the teacher was a horrible fit for him and the administration had it's own issues and I don't even think they were as Montessori as they should have been (CHILD LED), but what it taught me is that the BEST possible place ended up being the closest/cheapest option to us, and we learned a lot along the way).

I guess my point is what seems amazing on the surface can lose it's luster (for lots of reasons) so making a living location decision based on that would be a really tough sell personally.  At a minimum, can you try the school for a year before making a move to see if it will even be a good fit?  If it's not a good fit then moving to the better school district would be my vote but then you would know.  Good luck!

jeastith

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Thanks everyone for chiming in.  It was good to hear some different perspectives.  I recently met some of the parents whose children go to that Montessori school, and they most certainly were not "rich snobs" as one person who replied implied.  In fact, they seemed very much like us, being frugal so that they could send their kids to this school, that they think is worth it.  There were only a few fancy cars in the parking lot at pick up time.  Most were older hondas and hyundais, a few priuses.   

The school (besides the price tag, which I know, is a big thing to get over) is very much aligned with our values.  It's what we would want in a school - some freedom to choose what we learn and when we learn it.  But don't get the idea that Montessori is a free for all.  It most certainly has a lot of structure as well, and there are expectations on the children.  This is most definitely an officially accredited AMS school. 

Isn't this what we are all looking for from financial freedom? - the ability to do what we want when we want?  To follow our interests freely and do what we want with our lives?  So I feel as though we are granting our daughter that freedom by sending her there. 

When we visited the school, the kids were bright eyed and excited to be there.  One girl showed us a math problem she made up for herself, and she was absolutely fascinated by it while she explained it to us. 

I went to a private school, but not Montessori, but by 4th grade I was convinced I wasn't good at math because I sometimes got a C on a test and the teacher demoted me to the "average track."  Montessori does not give grades, and although I know some people will totally attack that, I think its freakin great.  I was obsessed with grades in school, I felt so much pressure about getting A's that I stopped enjoying learning.  I just wanted to ace the test so that everyone would be happy with me, and then I promptly forgot what I learned. 

My friend was telling me about her great experience in the public school because she was in the gifted class and she got all sorts of special, individualized treatment.  Well, great for her.  But how about the kids in the class who weren't considered "gifted?"  How did that make them feel when they were singled out as "average" or "below average?"  My husband said in his school, the named one of the tracks "the slow track."  WTF?  All the kids in that "track" were now labeled as the slowest learners in their class.   This is one of the things I love about Montessori.  They don't divide the kids in any way.  There's no "gifted".  They see all the kids as gifted in different ways.

Anyway, I agree with some of the people who posted who said this is worth it for them.  To me, its not just an "overpriced school of snobs" as some people think.  It's a life philosophy that matches our values.  I wish it were more readily available to kids (ours included!) without the big price tag, but that isn't the way it is (at least where we live).  Luckily the property taxes in this area are only $1600/year, so its not like we're shelling out a bunch in property taxes for public schools we aren't going to use.

     

   

zhelud

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My 2 cents- our younger son went to a Montessori pre-K and kindergarten program at our public school. (We had to pay for pre-K, but kindergarten was free.) It was wonderful, but not because they had a special curriculum, or taught academic skills, or whatever-  I think that the main reason was that the teachers were the best pre-K teachers either of our children ever had. They were not even in the same universe as the teachers that our older son had in the child care center he attended. I don't know if this was because the Montessori universe requires teachers to have a lot of education and training, or if it was because the public school system had higher standards than private day care centers.

Poline

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It's very important for a kid to attend a Montessori preschool, because it helps him to socialize. He communicates with other kids, gets basic knowledge and learns to be self-confident. At Montessori preschool a kid faces life problems and finds solutions by himself. It guarantees that he will become a smart and confident grownup. So it's worth it

Scandium

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I am relatively new to this blog, feel inspired, and realize that I am living a decidedly anti-mustachian lifestyle so far. My husband and I are already discussing some large changes in our lifestyle and life-plan to become more mustachian. HOWEVER, one thing I am not willing to compromise on is Montessori school. My 2 year old son is in a private toddler program that he will attend from 1-3 years of age. We just had a second son who will attend the same program. We spend $10,000 a year on this program.

I don't understand here. $10,000 on daycare/pre-school is cheap. We pay almost 2x that for not Montessori (although very nice) daycare for our son, and I believe it's ~$15k/year for 2 year olds like yours. I think the issue is paying that much (or more) for Montessori worth it when there are free public schools

sheepstache

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so children arent packages BUT you have say 7 different options to get them from a to b .... its your choice how you get them there... but i 100% think ya'll are kidding yourselves thinking that 300k buried in lower level education is actually a responsible way to raise your child...   

YOU ARE OUTSOURCING

core fundamental of mustachianism is to not OUTSOURCE.   


If none of you montessori people see it this way keep living with your blinders on.  life is life ... based on how montessori was founded ... if your child flourishes here great .... but this was founded to help kids WHO HAVE TROUBLE LEARNING .... maybe you look at what you're doing at home before you fork out 10s of Ks of dollars to send your kid to a school..

If this is the logic that results from a public school education then the OP's choice is quite simple: Montessori all the way

Zing!

Seriously, I'm not sure why so many people are weighing in who clearly don't know what a montessori school is.

I think people are seeing that it costs a lot and making assumptions based on that. But bear in mind $10k is probably what public school costs too, we just don't see it because it's buried in taxes.

Thegoblinchief

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It's very important for a kid to attend a Montessori preschool, because it helps him to socialize. He communicates with other kids, gets basic knowledge and learns to be self-confident. At Montessori preschool a kid faces life problems and finds solutions by himself. It guarantees that he will become a smart and confident grownup. So it's worth it

"Socialization" is this magic word that everyone uses to justify (insert pet educational philosophy here). What on earth do you actually mean by it.

Kids socialize instinctively. We're apes. Of course we socialize. If anything it's more important to not over socialize so that the child learns the ability to step back, engage the socialized group behavior from a critical distance, and decide for themselves whether the groupthink is valid for themselves.

Erica/NWEdible

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It's very important for a kid to attend a Montessori preschool, because it helps him to socialize. He communicates with other kids, gets basic knowledge and learns to be self-confident. At Montessori preschool a kid faces life problems and finds solutions by himself. It guarantees that he will become a smart and confident grownup. So it's worth it

"Socialization" is this magic word that everyone uses to justify (insert pet educational philosophy here). What on earth do you actually mean by it.

Kids socialize instinctively. We're apes. Of course we socialize. If anything it's more important to not over socialize so that the child learns the ability to step back, engage the socialized group behavior from a critical distance, and decide for themselves whether the groupthink is valid for themselves.

Don't feel the spam troll, GC. ;)

little_brown_dog

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There is a Montessori craze around here and while Im sure the schools are great, I do feel like most of the kids there would probably have done just as well in good public schools. I would question sending your kids if the bill will limit or jeopardize your ability to provide for other educational goals like college funds, or would significantly impact your family in other ways (ex: limiting the amount of children you want to have, limiting retirement savings, etc).There is also something to be said about the downsides of sending children to elite, expensive early ed schools. These environments typically attract a very homogenous type of family. If exposing your child to people of various races, ethnicities, backgrounds, and experiences is important to you, you could be significantly hampered by electing to send the child to very expensive institutions. This can limit the natural learning experience of interacting with people who are different, something that is critical for young children when learning empathy.

lbmustache

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I went to a Montessori school till 3rd grade and LOVED IT. I would 5000% send my child to one if I could afford it. I remember being very bored and uninspired when I transitioned to public school :(

Retire-Canada

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Asking people for anecdotes means they will almost always select the option they took regardless of whether or not it was better.

I would search for academic research papers on the topic and read them.

Here are two...

http://www.pearweb.org/teaching/pdfs/Schools/Cambridge%20Montessori%20Elementary-Middle%20School/Articles/Montessori%20article.PDF

http://www.sciencemag.org/content/313/5795/1893.summary

Of course you have to filter out the "research" sponsored by the Montessori organizations and track down independent studies that have been peer reviewed.

jengod

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Short answer: Yes and yes.

Montessori school is our biggest discretionary/lifestyle line item and we don't doubt the expenditure for a second. We are debt-free and have a solid savings rate. Creating an enriched environment for our children is a priority for us, so this spending is in line with our family values.