Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Thoughts on Grade 1

Aaron is in Grade 1 this year. Or rather, he is of Grade 1 age this year. His school doesn't go by 'grades' and it confuses everybody. He's in what they call 'Cycle 2', a class of 6-9 year olds, but I tell him to say Grade 1 whenever people ask otherwise there will be too much explaining to do.

There have been some changes to the parent landscape this year. Several of the other moms that I had become friends with have moved their children to traditional schools. I also heard of other families that I didn't know, moving out. Good thing or bad thing, this has caused a lot of discussion and scrutiny amongst the remaining families.

I'll admit that I'm part of that crowd. Talk about peer pressure! Aaron is actually doing very decently and is *ahem* ahead of his peers for many things. Yet, I have found myself questioning the effectiveness of the Montessori system, teacher-student ratios, Aaron's inclination to talking all the time and everything else. Its almost as if I am trying to convince myself that his classroom will not work for him. I want him to stay ahead of his peers. He may need that edge when he transitions to a traditional school in a few years and takes time to adjust. Once again, thats my paranoia coming in because if I were rational, I'd say that there shouldn't be much of an issue assimilating with a traditional classroom because of how I do things at home.

Now this is where I think the Montessori system (or maybe its this particular school's system) is lacking. There is no feedback loop to the parents. There is no homework, so we don't know what the children are working on. There is no assessment, just a report card twice a year with cryptic 'grades' of 'mastered', 'supported' and 'introduced'. There is no syllabus or textbook that a parent can get hold of. The children learn through hands on materials in the classroom. At the end of each term, the children bring home their 'finished work' folder. It requires a lot of trust from parents. The end of the term is too late to do anything about whatever the child is lacking in. I have to trust that the teacher has enough time and dedication to nurture my child to his full potential.

Maybe its asking too much for a teacher to aim for 'full potential'. Thats why I am more than willing to do my part at home. I want to contribute but I need a little more information here. Its going to be my aim for the next two weeks to see if I can find a way to get this information without becoming the teacher's most dreaded parent.


Mike said...

'Grade 1' translates into 'first grade' here.

Bilbo said...

My local grandchildren are in a Montessori school which seems to be doing well by them. I guess we'll have to see how things look when they transition to a "traditional" school. Good luck!