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Transition From Montessori To Mainstream.............


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Not sure if I'm posting in the right place but here goes.....


It's a bit of a long story but hopefully not too confusing!


I run a small rural pre school and work in partnership with the village school. The term before the children start at the school full-time they start doing mornings only, starting at two a week slowly building up to 5 mornings by the last week of term. The children come to pre-school for the mornings they're not at school. The class they're in at school has reception, yr1 and yr2 in one room, with an outside area.


The school decides if the children 'are not ready' for more mornings although up to now this has never occurred all the children being deemed to be 'ready' for more mornings at school, however......


I have been asked by the school if I can take on a little girl, 4.5 yrs old, who has just moved into the area (and has never attended our pre school before) as she is deemed to be not ready for more mornings than the two she currently does (the others in her year are now doing 4 mornings a week). The head has also suggested to the mother that the child puts off full time school until January and not start in September as usual here.


The head's concerned about concentration, lack of ability to sit still and quiet during story-time, whole school assembly, (yes, I know!!) and the child's habit of getting up and leaving an activity she is not interested in, and making her own choices about what she wants to do.


I am aware of the school's quite high expectations of a reception child's ability to sit still and quietly so do my best to prepare children leaving me to go there, I don't want their first year at school to be dominated by being corrected for not sitting still and not complying with instructions.


I have found this little girl to be a delight, independent, bright, happy, inquisitive and she has no problems sitting and listening in circle-time, story time etc. or maintaining concentration on activities she finds interesting.


I'll finally get to my big concern....at last you cry........


This child has previously attended a Montessori pre-school where Mum says she had no problems. I have no practical experience of Montessori and just a limited knowledge of the theory but could it be that this lovely little girl is used (quite rightly) to being independent, changing an activity if she's bored and would have had no experience of being expected to sit still whilst being bored rigid??!! (the school she's attending part time still has children lining up at the ring of the school bell, in silence with hands out of pockets and may be more rigid and disapproving of independence of spirit than most )


Does anyone have any experience of this sort of problem and how can I help this child? We are very child-led at my pre school, from what I've read we follow many Montessori principles and I'm not sure being with us longer is going to help her cope with school.


What do you think??


Thanks for your patience in reading all this,



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We visited Montessori Nurseries and schools in Milan last year. I think you are right about the fact that she is used to being able to make choices about her learning and to be independent and self motivated. We watched the children in one class of 5 year olds preparing the room for lunch. They set the tables (using glasses, table cloths ,china plates and cutlery). The children used the pictures hanging on the wall to remind them what they needed. (See attached photo). One little girl was responsible for cutting up the bread (with a sharp knife) and putting it into baskets for each table. She then lifted the cloth from under the bread board and took it to the window, opened it and shook out the cloth so that the birds could eat the crumbs!! We all watched in amazement!!

Children using felt pens to write and draw went and got the cleaning basket when they finished and wiped over the mat they were leaning on and independently tidied away all their resources before going and selecting another activity. There was very little adult intervention - they all just got on with it!

Hope all works out for this child - must be very confusing for her?



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My setting is a high/scope one where children are given opportunities to choose activities, be independent - including negotiating with others problem solving etc. I find the transition to school can be a big shock to our children. Going from a child-adult shared environment to one where they have to 'toe the line' can be difficult for some children. I also find this at after school club too, one 7 year old told his mother (who is high/scope trained! works in another setting) that he was 'confused' at school/after schools club, because when he questions something at school he is told 'not to answer back' and also if he tries to negotiate with other children, he should be asking the teacher to sort things out. At after school club he is told when he approaches a member of staff, have you spoken to him about it? With the reception children also, during a recent intake visit the children were told they could play with what was out on the tables and nothing else! after having free choice to choose it, use it and put it away, it must be extremely hard for our children!

I hope it goes well, feel you need to support this family because school seems like a million miles away from what the little girl is used to! I feel the skills she has picked up during her pre-school time, will remain with her - i hope it all works out?!

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Hello Jane and welcome to the forum. Your description was very clear and not at all confusing, however I think the diverse nature of your child led preschool compared to what you describe of the school ethos will be very confusing to any child.


Just side tracking abit I'm curious as to how the childrens time in the preschool is funded, does the school get all the funding and the parents have to pay you for time spent in your setting??


You say you work in partnership with the school but only thinking from your details it appears that the partnership is a bit one way, does the school realise how your session routine works, the methods you use such as child initiated activities etc? Does the school follow the Foundation Stage, preparing for the EYFS? I think its sad that you feel you have to prpare children to 'conform' to the level you describe, even at any age let alone at such a young age. Obviously I cannot know the whole picture.


In this case maybe it would be best for te child to remain with you full time until January, then do full time at school from then, at least she won't have two different 'hidden' curriculums ( ethos') to deal with at the same time.


How does the parent feel about this? Having YR, Y1 & Y2 all together would require a lot of differentiation within the class, it appears that the expectations are leaning towards the older age range within the group.


Could you discuss your concerns with your Early Years advisor, or is there a local Cluster group ( school / preschool) you could talk to?


I would ask should the school not meet the childs needs rather than the child meet ( conform to) the schools needs? How do they ensure differentiation for foundation stage and Key stages?


Is there another school choice in the area more suitable to independent, confident, curious, active learners?



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Thanks Peggy.


I agree wholeheartedly with all you say. The partnership is in deed a bit one way, the school is aware of how we work at Pre school and does say that they follow the foundation stage, but my experience suggests it is more like a 'watered down' key stage 1. I'm hoping the EYFS will help to change things.


My Early Years advisor shares my concerns but hasn't been invited into the school to advise and therefore says she can't go in.

I have given the school her number and suggested she would be able to assist them in meeting the younger children's needs, but nothing so far.

I am going to arrange a meeting next week with the school to discuss this issue and invite my EY advisor to come along for moral support!


The mother is concerned that as the child has no problem at pre school, because we are meeting her needs, this won't help her to get ready for school full time and feels that rather than having less time than the other children that are coping fine with school she should have more, I guess there's some logic in that! Personally I think the child should stay with us till January, but the school wants her to still do a couple of mornings there during Autumn term as well as with us, like you say could be more confusing..


I have never been happy with the idea that the children's part time sessions are increased if they're deemed to be doing fine, as I feel the school should be meeting all the children's needs and if a child is struggling strategies should be put in place to help them not send them back to pre school!


This is a recent change in the last year, my objections were over ruled, I'm only a pre school leader after all, not a proper teacher...lol!


Regarding funding we claim for the sessions the children are doing with us at headcount day, the school gets the rest.


I have to say that my personal experience of primary and secondary schools , through my own 4 children, (aged between 22 and 8) is that schools tend to pay lip service to being 'child- centred' whereas most are nothing of the sort!

If only the Early years ethos was carried throughout school life we might have far fewer poor lost souls at the age of 16!

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Hi Jane

I have to wholeheartedly agree with your last comment! I feel the whole school ethos in many schools is a 'one size fits all' approach and unfortunately (but shall I saw thankfully!) children have all sorts of interests/abilities/personalities etc. and this is where many schools are failing our children. To be able to focus on individual children's strengths and ways of learning should be part of education in our schools. Teachers like children to 'fit the mould' and when they don't for whatever reason, they are labelled 'the difficult child' - i've heard the reception teacher/year 1 teacher already discussing certain children who they feel will 'be a problem' during a visit to school from our pre-school setting! Talk about labelling a child even before they start!

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