Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The decision for Montessori

Yesterday I turned in the paper work for Aidan to attend a Montessori School in the fall. The decision as to what to do with him next year has been a tough one. I know many people think "It's only Kindergarten" but I feel this decision will impact the rest of his educational career.

What I like about the Montessori program is that they look at the individual child, the developmental level of the child, and the needs of the child. It is not a "one size fits all" program like the public education system. It is not like "ok today we are ALL going to be doing x, y, and z" and by the end of kindergarten you should be able to read some sight words, write numbers to 30, and be able to write some sentences. To bad if you can already read or that there are some areas in which you struggle. Don't get me wrong I was a public school teacher and I know there are some great ones out there. I also know that the whole "No Child Left Behind" has been a detriment to our education system and teachers just can't spend the time doing the things they used to because so much emphasis is put on testing and there is SO MUCH TIME dedicated to testing and preparing the child for testing. I think public education is fine for a lot of kids but I just don't feel like Aidan fits the mold and that he would struggle in some areas.

Another thing I like about Montessori is that they emphasis creative and independent thinking which in turn creates leadership skills and hopefully a human being who will contribute to society! Children are also taught to work with one another to be problem solvers, a vital skill to have in the real world but something that is considered "cheating" in public school. Montessori emphasizes creating a confident child.

The peace that I experienced when I toured the school is perhaps the thing that "sealed the deal" for me. They emphasis peace education which is soooo refreshing. To be honest I think bullying has gotten out of control these days and Aidan would be a target because he is such "a lover and not a fighter". Schools seem to be at a loss when it comes to how to handle bullying. I would venture to guess that there is not much bullying that goes on at Montessori, the kids are to busy engrossed in learning and problem solving together. Not to say that Montessori doesn't have it's "mean girls" ( and yes it starts as early as Kindergarten these days) or it's aggressive and sometime violent boys ( as Aidan is experiencing in his current preschool) but I think they probably handle it in a different way.

Montessori does have it's faults and is not for everyone. The kids are given almost total freedom ( at this school there is some structure) and take responsibility and ownership of their own learning. It would be somewhat easy for a child to "slip under the rug" if he/she decides not to do anything for the day. If a child is easily distracted it might also be a problem. I feel that Aidan can be easily distracted but if it is something he chooses and is engrossed in, it wouldn't be a problem. Aidan is also an auditory learner so sometimes it appears he is not paying attention but he hears everything and is learning. He is the kid that would drive you crazy during story time because it looks like he isn't listening because he is busy fidgeting with something in his hands or looking somewhere else but really hears everything you are saying. With this being said, I am very confident about my decision to put him in Montessori but there is a chance it may not work out. If is doesn't then it doesn't and we would do something different next year - maybe even public school. Who knows? My plan is to keep him there until 3rd or 5th grade but sometimes plans change and you just have to go with the flow. lol. Wow! No one ever said parenting was easy did they?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Aidan Swims

I have no idea why sometimes I can post videos and sometimes I can't. Today it worked. Go figure.

Here is a little video of Aidan at swim lessons today. It doesn't look like he is doing much but this is a HUGE step. This is the little boy who would hold me with a death grip anytime we got in the pool last summer. Today was the first day that Mr. Matt was "hands off" with him. Basically he is just jumping in and floating to him but I tell you, This is a big deal! Next he will teach him how to do his arms and then last the legs.

The 7 Continents

We have been a little under the weather... first me and then Aidan. We are healthy now and we are back to business as usual. ;0) A couple of weeks ago we had another Moms and Munchkins meet up at the zoo. This months theme was "The 7 Continents". As usual Ms. Desiree and Ms. Leigh did an amazing job! They started by showing the kids a globe and map of the continents. She also talked about habitats and how they are like neighborhoods. We then boarded the chicken bus ( if any of you are guatemamas this was a Guatemalan Chicken bus that they refurbished) and we drove around looking at the animals and discussed which Continent they lived on and why. The kids listened intently. We ended with story time on the Chicken Bus and singing a song about the Continents. I just LOVE this program because it is so educational and experiential. Aidan practiced saying them a couple of times on the way home. Today I wanted to see if he had retained the information and asked him if he could name them and he said " sure" and rattled them off- North America, South America, Antarctica, Australia, Africa, Asia, and Europe." PROOF that experiential learning works ( or that Aidan has a a memory like a steel trap) lol. But seriously, I don't know if he was taught about the continents in a class room just using a globe, animal models, maps, etc... if he would have remembered them. It is amazing how we can learn when we have something tangible and real to connect our experiences. This is why I have spent the past 4 1/2 years giving him as many real life experiences as possible. I feel each experience has created a little "hook" in his little brain to attach knowledge.

I think I have figured out what we are going to do next year for Kindergarten! I toured a Montessori School this week and LOVED it! I think it is a perfect fit for Aidan Kai! It may require me going back to work part time to pay for the tuition but I think it will be totally worth it!

Arriving at the zoo- This is for Grandma Helen!
Ms. Desiree teaching the kiddos...

The Guatemalan Chicken Bus! lol. It is used for the preschool program that we do each month.

I just took a picture of the Hippo because he is usually never out of the water (BTW He is from Africa)

Aidan always grabs the front seat so he can listen to what Ms. Desiree has to say. Today he sat with Christopher. They held hands the entire time. So cute and innocent!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Gymnastics and Visit to the fire station

Aidan had his first gymnastics class this week. He had a great time but it was a little to chaotic and unorganized for me. It just seemed like there were to many kids in to small of space. During free play there were babies crawling around, basketballs flying (mostly by Aidan throwing them), kids colliding and crying ( again Aidan), and just your general chaos. The actual class was ok but again there were to many kids and the teacher couldn't control all 20 of them. There were kids running around everywhere and not really listening to him ( again insert Aidan's name) They practiced forward rolls, a bean bag toss, played duck duck goose and other games, and practiced weaving. Aidan had so much fun there but seemed really overstimulated and had a really difficult time focusing. We have 2 more sessions to go so I am hoping next week there will be fewer kids.

Yesterday we went on a field trip with my moms group to the fire station. All the kids were so well behaved and listened so well! The moms were also really interested in what the firemen had to say! lol! The fire station was exceptionally nice! I have seen a few and this was by far the nicest. Each fire man has his own room and own shower (thing dorm style), they had a huge movie room and a nice remodeled kitchen (done in granite) with 3 of everything. They also had a good sized gym.

Here are some pics from this week.... The pictures from gymnastics are ALL blurry because I don't think Aidan slowed down much less stopped the entire time he was there.
Practicing his forward roll. The coach had them do it 3 times- once the regular way, once with a ball under their chins, and once with a super hero cape. One thing I can say about the place is that it is kid friendly. :)
finishing his roll...
giving the coach high five after he was done.
Bean bag toss. We have been working with Aidan throwing over hand for tee ball so I hope this doesn't confuse him.
playing on the climbing ladder and ringing the bell during free play.
Sometimes Aidan makes a face where he wrinkles up his nose when he is telling me a story. It is similar to this look.
practicing stop, drop, and roll...
one thing you can count on Aidan for is to always volunteer first to do something as the kid is not shy! He volunteered to come up and show the kids what to do if you find a lighter or other thing that creates fire ( give it to a grown up). He told the entire room that we camp in our backyard and we make fires in our fire pit. lol!
Showing the kids what the firemen look like with all of their equipment on so they won't be scared if( lord for bid) they were ever needed in an emergency situation.
The awesome movie room. There were about 12 to 15 more recliners that you can't see in this picture. I want to do movie night at their place! lol.
checking out the engines...

This is a "just cause I think it is cute" picture.... All the neighborhood kids were at our house jumping on the trampoline and playing. The big kid decided to give the little kids a ride in the wagon. So sweet and cute! ( Aidan is munching on a granola bar in case you were wondering what was in his mouth)... and that plus a few trips to the park and swim lessons pretty much sums up our week. :0) Have I ever mentioned that I love my job!!