Monday, February 11, 2013

Conversations With Ethan and Montessori BUST

Because sometimes, you just have to write these things down.

Yesterday, Ethan and I went grocery shopping. He's finally getting to the age where I don't have to worry about him running away at full speed, taking everything and everyone out with him along the way. It's nice. I can hand him things, and he'll put them in the cart for me. He rides on the side of the cart, and does a pretty good job of keeping his feet off the floor.

Ethan has seen his grandpa check his blood sugar amounts, and being Ethan, he wanted a clear, unedited reason why Grandpa checks his blood. I've given him that explanation and he's brought it up several times. He wants explanations. He wants to know WHY and WHAT the body is doing wrong to make him diabetic. And so, as is always the case with Ethan, I've been left to sloppily navigate through the waters of a subject I know very little about to provide him with the best scientific explanation as possible. After all, he's nothing if not precise when it comes to science.

So we're going through the store, headed to the milk aisle when he sees some sugary delights (because stores place that junk at a kid's eye level). He says, loudly, "that's sugary food, right?"

"Yes," I say, seeing the people around us begin to look at my adorable, little kid.
"Yeah, and that stuff is bad for you, right?"
"Yes, it is." I see some smiles. AND THEN.....
"It makes your body say, 'Oh no! I don't like it. It makes my pancreas hurt!"

Ethan is loud. Always has been. He doesn't mean to be. He just is. He has the kind of voice that carries far. And so, the smiles that once adorned the face of those around us turned into looks of confusion and/or shock. "What did he say?" I imagine them thinking. "Did he just say pancreas?" And of course, they know he did because the kid enunciates when he so chooses and in this case, it was crystal clear.

I laugh and say, "Yes."

"If you eat lots of that stuff, you'll get diabetes."


End of conversation.

Every night, Ethan has this routine. He keeps his light on until a predetermined time. Usually, he'll notice what time it is on his clock and turn his light off. But, he also asks me to cover him up at that time. It always end with a ten minute conversation as he shows me all the things he did while his light was on. Last night, after informing me that he had created a "Valentine's Day bag" for big school, he launched into what he wants to be when he grows up.

"I'm going to be a heart doctor when I grow up. And I'm going to fix people's hearts. And when they get water in their lungs, I'm going to fix that, too." I don't know where he got the water in the lungs thing....maybe he overheard a conversation I was having about my mom and pnuemonia?

"That's great," I say.

"And do doctors have to have houses?"

"I guess they don't HAVE to," I answer.

"But are construction workers with hats that aren't kids real?" He asks. I blame Bob the Builder.


"Oh, well, I'm gonna need a construction worker when I grow up."

"You want to be a construction worker?"

"No. I'm gonna NEED one."

"Why?" I ask.

"So they can build me a house!" He says as though it was SO obvious and I must be dense not to know.

"Oh, yeah, probably," I say.

We went to the Montessori open house. We weren't going to go, but I decided last minute to pack the kids up and head that way. The first room looked like a lot of fun, and kids were playing with the items. A nice woman took us to the room that would be Ethan's room. The teacher in that room was very adamant about not allowing the kids to take things out of their places, saying she had a special way of showing the kids how to use those things. She offered puzzles and books. The puzzles were the type of puzzles a two-year-old could do. Ethan wanted to play with the patterns and the math beads. "No," she said. So Ethan did what he does when he feels cornered and resistant. He started talking in one-word phrases. He'd point and say, "That." She asked him if he could identify shapes, and he'd point and say, "Shapes." And so all that talk about what I wanted for Ethan and what level he's at was probably pretty confusing. She probably thought I was crazy!

I'm all for structured in free learning in a structured environment....but this teacher looked pretty uncomfortable with Ethan and I didn't feel they'd mesh well together. I think he'd drive her crazy. And so we left the room.

Ethan asks, "Does she have science experiments?" I told him he should ask her, so back into the room we went. She took him over to the science area where she had puzzle maps of all sorts of places around the world. And she showed him books of leaves. He asked about the body, so I helped out.

"He's really into the body. Do you have anything like that?"

"We have a book about it, but the body, because it deals with the inside, is abstract, so the kids don't understand that yet in this room. We keep things concrete." She showed him the ONE body book they have in that room. He has it, and it's more cartoonish. He doesn't look at it anymore. He wants REAL.

I know this isn't common. I know most kids his age are more concrete. But Ethan is very abstract. I can see it in his knowledge AND UNDERSTANDING of the body. I can see it in his need to do math as word problems rather than adding on his fingers or counting things out. I can see it in so many different ways.

And so, with the $6500 tuition and $1500 after-school care and $300 Enrichment Material Fee and the requirement to bring lunch and snacks with the kids everyday and provide 10 hours of volunteer work per semester, giving something like this a try when I can already see some definite gaps just doesn't seem like a good idea. I fear those things that make Ethan who is would be further squashed by the structure to focus on what's in the room. Whereas now, he is at least allowed to discuss and explore those topics, even if it's just through conversation with his teachers.

Another thing I learned through this excursion? Alternative educational methods are geared for and conducive to households where at least one parent can work part time or stay home. I mean, nevermind all of the above. They're closed in June and July. What am I supposed to do with Ethan during that time?

So we're back to square one. I'm thinking that I'm just going to have to see how well the public school will work with us. I've got a couple years to determine the best way to approach it.

And finally, Ethan is spelling ALL THE TIME. He's not great, but he's doing it.

For instance, he spells Wesley as WESWE. And Garret and GRUIT. And Finn and FIEN. But, hey, I'm not going to correct him. He's doing it all on his own and I refuse to squash his ambition at this point. After all, he is only 4!


  1. I've actually been working on a post about Waldorf that's pretty similar. The structure of the approach makes me want to vomit. Who has the right to tell a child they can't use a certain color or read a book. Unless it's playboy. Ahem.

  2. Glad you visited the school and found this out. I am sure he would hate that structured environment. Love the conversation in the grocery store!