What I love about Montessori school. And a few things I don’t love.

February 1, 2010 at 8:48 pm (Bored, School)

Where has the time gone? Brody just received his first report card. His first “official” report card for the first grade. Oh sure, he got some scribbles in Kindergarten, but Brody was the teacher’s pet in KG… Brody could do no wrong in Miss Delmy’s eyes. But first grade? They are a little harder on their students and have more kids to deal with (10 vs 40). Brody was late 4 days this semester. I was responsible for 1 of those late days (for those of you keeping track (hence me), 25%). He only missed 1 day.  No bad, I’d say. By the time I’d finished first grade, I’d missed 12.5 days.

Not only did we get the report card, we got instructions for the grading system (very helpful) and “guidelines” that should be followed if we were going to share the report card with our child. We were told the report card is written for parents, not children. If we “decide” to discuss the report with our child, we need to make sure we emphasize their strengths and gently redirect their challenges.

Gone is the anxiety, gone are the grades that indicated F for fail, etc. Now, the children are assigned numbers (1 through 5), 1 for “experiencing difficulty with the end of the year grade level standards” and 5 for “advanced demonstration of grade level state standards.” This part, I do not like so much. The number system seems so gentle… so non-threatening. Teachers need to put the fear of failing into a student, what the heck is a number going to do?  I guess I’m a little old school.

The report is broken down into four sections; mathematics, cultural studies, language arts and (wait for it) life long learning skills. Life long learning skills include such categories as intrinsic motivation, social responsibility, stewardship, good citizenship and confidence. There are many other categories as well (such as the ability to accept external authority). Apparently, Brody usually works for the apparent pleasure of so doing but rarely demonstrates mastery by showing others. He always completes work to the agreed upon criteria (he gets that from me) but only sometimes replaces materials in good condition when finished (he gets that from his dad). My son is a critical thinker!  This is what I love about Montessori! My parents were never told, throughout my entire history of school, that I was a critical thinker. Or that I had social responsibility. Or that I had the ability to accept external authority.  Back in my day, you had to accept external authority otherwise our parents would hear about it and then YOU were in real trouble. 

Thanks to my mom, I have my first grade report card. The comments on my card said “Melodie is a confident reader. She is also a good little worker. I’ve enjoyed her “down to earth” approach.” And my favorite comment “Dear Melodie, Have a happy summer! Thanks for being such a happy little girl!” Gotta love Mrs. Victoor (and I truly did, she was awesome). Other comments were “study of Japan, nutrition, Norway, pioneers and Eskimos.” Vague with very little detail.  In the comments section on Brody’s report, Brody’s teachers mentioned they want Brody to offer more help and take more responsibilities in the classroom. Their goal for Brody is to become a role model for his peers.  Comments include “He is comfortable working on dynamic addition and subtraction abstractly” (although abstractly sounds like a made-up word, it’s not. However, I have found his teachers like to make up their own words on occasion). “Brody is going to be working on dynamic multiplication soon.” Really? I am not sure I even know what dynamic multiplication is – never mind accomplishing it in the first grade.

What is truly shocking is the part where his teachers say Brody usually demonstrates concentration, patience and persistence because I have never seen him use these skills at home. Unless he’s playing a video game. It’s kind of like the time I called his kindergarten teacher and asked her how she handled his constant whining. Her response was “Brody does not whine, he communicates with me quite well.” Really.


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