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Do I have move her?
Preschool years

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#1 PureBliss

Posted 04 February 2013 - 01:48 PM

Hi there. I am currently exploring preschool options for my 2.5 year old DD and making a complete mess of it.

She currently attending a gorgeous childcare centre 3 days a week, about ten minutes away from us. She loves it and has made some lovely little friends. She is completely happy there, and we are quite happy with the centre too. However, the cc is not in the same suburb as she will go to school, and ideally I would like her to meet more local kids that she will go to school with in her kinder year. So I am thinking I may have to move her for kinder year. (not sure yet whether that will be to another LDC or a council kinder, depends on my work situation.)

We have a private montessori pre school closer to us, which has offered her a place to start at 3 or 4. It has a very structured and rigorous educational program, the facilities are beautiful. Its is completely different vibe to her current  centre, very "classroom" rather than "fun/playtime". She will have one of her closest friends starting there in July (same time that she would start) so she wouldnt be completely without friends.

I guess my question is - at 3 years old, is the educational rigour that important? I am all for learning, however she is going to have 12 years of rigour at school, maybe I should just let her be a kid, play dress ups, eat play dough etc in the lovely family environment that she is currently happy in.

She is a very inquisitive and active child. When we did the tour of the Montessori preschool she was quite fascinated by the activities and they held her concentration for ages. I have no doubt she would learn and be engaged there. But would she be happy? Right now she loves dressing up as a fairy and squealing with other little girls - exactly what she does at her lovely child care centre. She really is part of a family there.

So what would you do? Its a head over heart decision, and I am really struggling! She could of course, go for 4 year old, but I don't want to be behind from a Montessori perspective. Also it only means she will have a year there before moving for school, and as a child who takes quite a while to adjust to new environments, I think 2 years would be better.

Would love to hear your thoughts!

#2 Plaxy

Posted 04 February 2013 - 02:05 PM

I can feel the angst you are going through. My youngest (of 5) finished school last year and I'm so glad not to have to toss those decisions around anymore!
The advice I would give from my experience of years of kids in various schools is - if they are thriving, and have friends, don't make any changes. All different centres will have pros and cons, and if the one she is in is working I would stick with it. As you said she will have 12 years of schooling, so why not play now? And play is probably the best thing for her, and I don't necessarily think that a child having fun is missing out  - play is learning too. I don't think you should worry about her being behind at this age - unnecessary stress for you. She will learn, adjust and fit in later in school if she has had lots of happy, confident playing time before school. I'm sure there are lots of great things about the Montessori system, but kids can thrive in all sorts of places!
The only thing that makes me think of changing centre is that her friend is doing this. In the end I think friends are among the most important resources your child has, at any age, so if she will be left without good friends at her current centre, then I might think about it.

#3 Tesseract

Posted 04 February 2013 - 02:10 PM

There are a few issues here, if you don't mind me teasing them out a bit.

First of all you're concerned about her having friends at childcare/preschool/school. This is up to you to decide, but for me it wouldn't be a deciding factor. Kids make friends easily, and there is no guarantee that a childcare centre in your local area will automatically feed into the school she's going to anyway - people send their kids to childcare all over due to getting a place, or where they work, whatever. If your current centre is only 10 minutes from home I would think at least a few would be going on to your DD's primary school?

In relation to the Montessori preschool. We are sending DD to one and I've been looking into it for some time. I hope this doesn't sound rude, but when I read your post what comes out at me is that you have a feeling/belief that the Montessori preschool will be hard and sullen learning and quite the opposite to play. Like you're sending her to school at 3 and you're (quite understandably) not the sort who wants to hot-house her kid. This is not my understanding of Montessori at all. While there is a focus on order and focus this is because there is so much freedom that it would be chaos otherwise. Also the children seem to thrive on the focused, orderly environment. Montessori education is not about schooling - it is about play! Playing with materials designed and proven to engage little ones. It is about instilling the notion that learning is play and play is learning, instead of seeing learning as a chore which is what traditional schooling tends to do - and might I say, this is what is coming across in your post?

I don't know if that made any sense, and I doubt it will help you at all! But I just wanted to say that I don't think Montessori denies children their childhood by providing learning opportunities before the age of 5, in fact it is specifically designed to capitalize on their innate drive to learn through play, in a self-directed way.

#4 Mrs Dinosaurus

Posted 04 February 2013 - 02:10 PM

We are the same and have left DS1 where he is, partly because he is very, very bad at change, partly because he goes to the same CC centre as his little brother (and they will be in 'kinder' for a year together) and partly because I can't believe on the first day of Prep none of those kids will have been at home for their first 4 years AND they will all know each other!

I figure 5 year olds make friends easier than 3 year olds.

I may be wrong, I'll let you know in 2 years!

#5 PureBliss

Posted 04 February 2013 - 02:37 PM

Hi, thanks for your replies, I appreciate it!

Tesseract, not rude at all, and probably what I needed to hear. You are right,  it was the self directed learning/play that appealed to me most about Montessori. I do alot of Montessori type activities with DD at home too.  However, based on the  tour, and consequent newswletters from the preschool I have received, they seem very dictorial. As an example, in their welcome pack there is a whole page dedicated to punctuality, entering the class when the bell goes, parents not allowed in the classroom after the bell, if we drop off late, I drop her at the door, explain to her that we are late, what can we do next time to ensure we are on time? Early pick ups need to be "preapproved" by management, etc etc. Now maybe  the rules are more for the parents than the kids - its just a very different approach to DDs current centre. Not bad, just different.

I also understand that they have rules to protect the integrity of their program - they don't want constant disruptions with kids coming and going. I have been a teacher so I get it. I just feel that will all come when she is 5 at school.

I love the Montessori philosophy though. Tesseract, does the administration of your centre sound like this? Maybe its the centre itself that I have doubts about, not Montessori per se.

I haven't looked at council preschools yet - I am trying to limit my choices!

Thanks for your input

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