Lately, I have been musing over some of the reasons parents choose to leave a Montessori school. Why would parents choose to leave a program that is clearly working for their child? When we ask that question to parents in our own school, we hear many answers but here are the three we hear most often.
We want our child to learn to speak another language so we're putting her/him in Immersion.
I whole-heartedly applaud parents who understand how important learning a second language is to a child. There are, however, other ways for children to learn that skill rather than putting them into a teacher-directed educational method. That is what Immersion is – at least here in BC – a traditional teacher-directed classroom experience.
With that said, I would ask parents to zoom out and look at the larger picture. Do you want your child in that kind of education system? Isn't the independence of a child-centred method one of the reasons you chose Montessori in the first place? Perhaps leaving your child in a Montessori Elementary program and giving them extra-curricular language lessons is a better route? Something to consider.
It is just too expensive to keep paying tuition. Public school is free.
Yes, paying tuition can be a strain on some families. We get that, which is why we ALL try to keep tuitions as low as we possibly can. Believe me, if we could enter the public system without having the Government telling us how to run a Montessori program, we would.
Public school is free. So are the hours of homework that public school children are given daily. So is the lack of independent choice that your child will be given. So is the reward and punishment system otherwise known as grades.
Now, I'm going to get a little harsh and point out that monthly tuition is no more expensive than buying new clothes every month, or filling up the humungous SUV a few times a week, or taking yearly family vacations in far away places. It really is just a matter of priorities. Is stuff more important than a child's education?
I went to Public school and I turned out all right.
In regard to parents using their own experience in public school to decide their child's next step, I would ask those parents to take a really hard look at that experience. Is just 'turning out all right' really what you want for your child? Were you ever bored? Did the teachers take time to get to know you and your family? Were you able to follow an interest as far as you wanted even though it wasn't in the curriculum? If you had learning disabilities, were the teachers able to support you?
My own boys went to public school so I know what I'm talking about. The option of authentic Montessori elementary was not available to us. One of my children thrived in the public system; one of them did not. If I could do the whole thing over again, I would move to a city that had an authentic Montessori program for my children to attend. 20/20 hindsight.