Monday, July 21, 2014

Is The Montessori Method The Best Choice For This Child?

Dear Tazi:

I am livid with my son and I am not certain what to do with him. I just received notice that he is to be held back in school next year due to failing grades. I have done everything in my power to assist my son in his learning goals, but to no avail.

When “Chad” first started bringing home failing grades, I sat with him to assist him with his homework. When he continued to bring home failing grades, I started revoking privileges and hired a private tutor to work with him who told me that Chad has great learning potential but no great desire to learn. Chad continued to bring home failing grades. I tried grounding him and attending parent-teacher conferences. I had him tested for ADD, Autism, and every other disorder under the sun. The doctors all tell me that there is nothing wrong with Chad medically, he simply lacks a desire for classroom learning.

I am now considering other options, each more expensive than the other: I can let Chad learn from his mistakes and see him held back a year; I can send Chad for counseling and hope that this gets to the root of his problems; or I can send Chad to a private, alternative school that teaches through the Montessori method. Although the third option is obviously the best one, it is also a very expensive one that is not available to the average-income family. I could easily afford to send Chad to such a school; but I do not want him to grow up like my brothers did, thinking Mommy and Daddy’s money will solve every problem and that having money somehow made them special (well, all children are special, so I will say more special than other children).

I am a widowed mother trying to do the best by my son without spoiling him in the process. I really can't talk to my friends about this issue because we do not see eye to eye when it comes to money and how much to spend on the children. I have considered talking to his teachers, but I live in a state where public education teachers are feeling rather volatile as it is; I believe that to bring up the idea of private school with them will not garner me an unbiased opinion. I read your "ghostwriter's" biography and am impressed enough to ask you: What would you recommend?

At Wit's End

Dear At Wit's End:

I can appreciate the way you are trying to raise your son, and it sounds like you are a very involved parent. You do not say how old Chad is or what grade he is in, but I am aware that Montessori schools accept children from birth through age 18 so I am pretty certain that Chad would qualify for admission age-wise.

Montessori schools are great schools for children who do not fit into the regular educational mold of public schooling, but before deciding to send your son to a Montessori school I would suggest a few meetings with their teachers, parents of other Montessori students, and with the Administration of the school itself - all to make certain that a Montessori education is what is right for your son. The lack of a formal classroom setting and the emphasis on creativity offered through the Montessori method may appeal to your son, but he will still be required to work towards learning goals.

If traditional classroom learning is what Chad finds so off-putting than a Montessori school would be a good choice for him. However, if Chad simply has no desire to learn - or even any natural curiosity at all - the Montessori method may not work for him, as it is based upon working with a child's creativity and natural learning curve to educate and problem solve. If in fact the latter is the case, you may want to seek a second opinion on whether or not Chad has a medical issue that is somehow holding him back.


P.S. You mention having him checked for "every disorder under the sun". Have you had him checked for dyslexia? This visual disability can frustrate and rob even the most intelligent children of the desire to learn.

Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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