School Issues for 7 y/o in Montessori

by Sherry
(Southwest NM)

Our family moved 5 months ago out of state and to a MUCH smaller town. I fell in love w the Montessori school and have both girls, ages 7 &4 enrolled. My 7y/o dtr has always been, what I described as "high maintenance" and "very dramatic". There have been so many "quirks" she has, we just got use to accommodating and dealt with as we never heard of SPD. The move was traumatic on both kids leaving a strong support system of friends.


We had noticed an increase in her "meltdowns" but chalked it up to transition and grief. After hearing from her teacher during a parent/ teacher conference how extreme her meltdowns were, I got her into therapy. The school director mentioned the possibility of SPD as did the therapist when I explained the issues. I began researching SPD and realized THIS IS MY CHILD-- the clothing dramas and socks or shoes; intolerance of temperatures (she is suddenly hot or cold and freaks out), light and noise intolerance, when she doesn't understand something she again will meltdown screaming and crying. If the episode can be caught in time; small window where meltdown can be stopped, she does ok. But it's a very small window. She doesn't quite understand how her behavior is affecting her socially. She has only one friend at school (the class is only 17 kids). Its been difficult to make other friends being new here. She can be such an awesome kiddo; she is extremely bright (had we not moved she qualified for a magnate school for GT), she is a natural at dance and gymnastics but her unpredictable behavior I now realize is why I drag my feet getting her involved. She is very creative and we spend most of our time together doing art of all sorts. She is the most empathetic and loving child I have known. Yet, she will scream at the top of her lungs when she gets a minor scrape or bump. Not always, but most of the time. If a child says something dtr interprets as negative, off she goes. She is small stature and gets crowded easily and panics. Her anxiety level is very high.

As for the Montessori school, I have concerns bc of the way this is handled. I have talked to the director and she has been very helpful. However, my daughter cannot go on field trips bc of her behavior. She has had a tantrum in a street endangering herself & the class. I had gone on a few field trips to intervene if needed. Lately, this has not been offered as an option and my daughter is not allowed to go. While she knows it's because of her meltdowns, my heart breaks as she says others act worse and are allowed to go. I have seen some of the others behavior and know it's true.Yet the teacher denies this. I know these kids are friends of teacher's kids. My daughter was also not allowed to be in the school's Christmas Program bc of the potential issues.

After lunch is a trigger for my child. She has been very tired needing rest. For a while she was going to a younger classroom to help. Afternoons become more chaotic in her room. Today her teacher tells me it would be best for daughter to go half days so I am to start picking her up at 1. Another punishment. Dtr is VERY social and delightful in small settings. She is constantly wanting a playdate or to venture out somewhere. My gut tells me the teacher is not helping. Dtr very sensitive to others and I think dtr picks up on the negativity from her teacher- who is very sweet BTW.

I am working on formal testing thru the school district. I believe in Montessori education, but red flags r popping up everywhere. Do we pull her out now and put her in public? That scares me too. So many changes! But if she is not succeeding at Montessori - and she will have the same teacher for 2 more years! I so want to be able to keep her there but sense they r preparing me for kicking her out; claiming public has more resources etc. I know this but feel it's a way to kick her out. Do we wait until next fall to decide; we have just begun to tap into an understanding and resources for her. Bottom line is I feel let down by the school; the teacher isn't able or willing to help more or can't; my heart aches for my wonderful daughter though she is so draining. What now? Thought Montessori best... How can I help her with her lowered self esteem bc she can't participate in things? Does this seem wrong to anyone else or have gone thru it?

Comments for School Issues for 7 y/o in Montessori

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Jun 28, 2011
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Mom of Montessori Child w/Sensory Issues
by: Anonymous

I am also a Montessori mom and we recently realized (with the help of the school) that our child may have SPD. We will be testing soon. Our child was having frequent meltdowns - especially at transition times and getting sent to the office sometimes 2-3 times a day. One thing about our school (and possibly yours as well) is that the teachers all have different approaches in the classroom. Some have more structure than others. Turns out that putting our child with a more structured and organized teacher (in a classroom with more natural light) has helped tremendously.

Jan 21, 2011
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Response to questions
by: Anonymous

Thanks for the responses! Since I proposed my question, my kiddo missed two days of school bc she had a meltdown/ panic attack before we got in the car! She did tell me thru the tears she was afraid to go to her class bc she might "be bad." My gut tells me to get her out of there. Her teacher smiles and starts off with "She's very bright BUT" as if she wants to disarm me. For a while the Director was supporting us, but for whatever reason is no longer. The Director wants myself, the teacher and the therapist to have a sit down to discuss the rest of the year and "what we should look at for next year." I am not sure I want to fight to keep her there. I feel the teacher (who my child will have next year as well) already has a tainted perspective. While my daughter does require extra work, I don't get the feeling her teacher sees her strengths and the goodness in my dtr. I think I just answered my question! The kids in her class shun her; she only has one friend who also has issues. I'm struggling to find an OT. The nearest place is 1.5 hrs away which I will do in a heartbeat but I have to submit a packet of info they r mailing then it will be reviewed to see if they will accept her. That will be another question on the forum! Thanks again-- Sherry

Jan 16, 2011
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oh, boy, do I empathize
by: Lucie

Before you decide to pull her out, have you had the opportunity to have a meeting with her teacher and the administration? Does the school not have references or any resource for SPD? While you are having her assessed, ask them what they can do for you and your child. If their decision is ultimately that she leave, let them be upfront with you. And maybe, with therapy, she will become a happy student and an asset to her school community.

Was the reduction in hours for her benefit? Maybe the longer days tire her out. She works extra to keep up.

Be polite, but be straight forward w/every concern. It's not like you daughter wants to inconvenience anyone, so I hope neither of you take on any discomfort of the school's.

Half days until summer, good assessment and treatment, and she could return to what might be an otherwise good school. Do her classmates like her?

All the best to you (my son was kicked out of Waldorf Dec. 1st w/o warning),

Lucie

Jan 14, 2011
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Know exactly how you feel
by: Anonymous

I share your fears, hurt and bewilderment. My son is 9 and has the same behaviors. If it wasn't for my son's school he would not be as far along as he is. They embraced his quirkiness. His teachers were so accepting of him and his differences that the other students followed suit. His teachers knew that trust was a major issue and he needed to trust and respect his teachers to feel safe in his environment. They worked with him and he had an amazingly successful year. It was a turning point for him. We moved last summer his new school is wonderful too. He still has meltdowns but he's able to hold it together in school.

He has always received OT, even before he was diagnosesd with SPD. Is your daughter getting any services?

I recommend meeting with your public school principal and discussing their philosophy regarding SPD and what services they can offer your child. At minimum she should be receiving OT. She deserves to be in an accepting and emotionally safe environment. Good luck and never be afraid to speak up, you're her best advocate. You need to be in a school that will work hand and hand with you in developing a plan for your daughter.

Jan 14, 2011
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Montessori
by: paulette etcheberry

I feel your pain and If I Were you I leave for good! Teachers are meant to help with our kids specially this type of School. Write a letter to the school and teacher and mention your concerns if they don't show any compassion and understanding towards your very reasonable disappointment with their way of simply "giving up" Leave for good. You are paying quite a lot of money for this type of school so don't feel any bit of remorse for pulling her out. Sometimes this type of "non - structural" "child oriented" method is not the best for our crazy, and loving kids. I have spoken with Bran's therapist about the Montessori System and she told me flat out: He needs the structure of a regular school. So maybe, a good private school with a regular curriculum will help her and also, the public school system might have some things to offer as well.

Bran went for an interview and didn't want to collaborate with the teacher when asked if he could draw a face.He is well driven, smart but very tenacious when wanting to get things "his way" I felt upset and even shed a tear after the nice news but that gave me perspective: He is already out of control with his tantrums and behavior with me, and maybe that wasn't his best day to be "tested" but one thing I know for sure, he knows how to manipulate situations quite well and that gave me the clarity to call the school and ask for another interview. If this time doesn't work, I will go public and he will have to follow the rules pf course he will continue with OT and Speech but I also want for him to understand that we live in society and thus we behave and do our best. I Wish you the best of lucks!

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