A lot of people have been saying things to me like, "isn't he so young?!" and "aren't you sad?" and "omg PRE-SCHOOL?! ALREADY?!?!"
Is it early? Maybe a little. Is it unusual? Not at all. Do I think it's helping him? Abso-freakin-lutely.
Firstly, the class he is in isn't even really pre-school. It's not as
interactive as I had originally thought. There is a teacher (Ms. Mary)
and about 8 kids ages 18 months - 3 years old. Each child must be
accompanied by at least one adult. The classroom is a decent size and
there are several different activities: puzzles, games, flash cards, a
reading corner with books, crafts, play-doh, toys that test motor
skills, magic tricks, trucks... it's endless. There are also several
small tables and chairs for the children to sit in, and basically you
let the child choose which activity they want to do, sit with them and
do it, and then when you're done you put it back and move on to the
next. There is no order or checklist or anything. He can spend the
entire time playing with one puzzle or he can spend 5 minutes on 20
different activities... it's up to him.
At the end of
class, Ms. Mary gathers everyone together and we sit in a circle and
sing about three or four songs, shake her hand and say goodbye.
Ky had his third day/week of Montessori today, and I have already noticed a dramatic difference. On week one, he was hesitant. He didn't want to wear his backpack, wouldn't really talk to the teacher or any of the kids, had a couple random meltdowns, did not want anything to do with circle time/songs they sang as a group, and sort of raced around the classroom touching everything and would not sit still.
Week 2 was instantly better. He stayed with certain activities longer and to completion. We worked at putting things back when he was done, sharing, and waiting our turn when we wanted to play with something someone else was currently playing with. And, only one meltdown when I wouldn't let him do an activity that was clearly too advanced for him (using a paint brush and glue paste to stick scrap paper together). He was learning.
Week 3 was today and he was a totally different kid. We've been talking about school and when we told him where we were going this morning he said, "backpack!" and wanted to wear it in. He played with all his activities and stayed engaged. He put things back when he was done. He even wanted to go and show the teacher one thing he had done. He sat for all of circle time, sang the songs he knew, and said goodbye to the teacher at the end of class.
I can't believe how much he's learned and developed in three short weeks, it really is amazing. And because of this, we discussed it and decided to sign him up for actual pre-school in the fall. He'll be 28 months old. And yes, it's the same school as the dreaded orientation incident, lol. I really thought about trying a different school, but honestly... it's the best one in the area. We considered sticking with Montessori, but after speaking with the Elementary School in our division, they suggested this pre-school and said the majority of the kids feed into the elementary school from there. I thought that was a great start so Ky can hopefully start making friends early that he will eventually attend Pre-K and Kindergarten with.
And? Snap decision.. we signed up Ariana, too! She will be doing a class which is similar to what Ky is doing now, but without me there. She is definitely young.. she'll be 16 months. But I'm looking at it as more of a well-organized play group. It's only one day a week for about 3 hours, and all the kids in her class will be between 12 and 24 months. I think it'll be good for her to get started on social skills early, learn to play with other kids, and just learn to thrive in that environment.
So, to sum it up... I'm really happy with our decision to begin Ky in the Montessori program. He's thriving and it makes my heart swell to see him happy and engaged and learning. I'm not going to lie, it's expensive. And it's time-consuming to make sure my parents can watch the baby, go there, spend the morning with him, and then he's so exhausted by the time we get home he immediately naps and then that's pretty much our whole day. But, it's so worth it. To see the change in his mannerisms and demeanor alone is worth it. He's even started getting better at home about putting things away, staying more focused on one activity, etc. I know by the end of the year, he's going to have learned so much and I can't wait to see where he is then.