If you have children at a Montessori school have you ever wondered how they would adapt to a traditional school environment?
Like many Montessori schools our school is primary only, it runs until the child is twelve and ready for high school. This means that at some stage my children will transition to another school.
Today I had the pleasure of interviewing Leah. Leah is a fun filled twelve year old and is a recent graduate from Canberra Montessori School. She has just finished her first term at Canberra Girls Grammar. I wanted to ask her a few questions about her Montessori schooling and her transition to a traditional high school.
How was your first term at Canberra Girls Grammar?
The start of the term was hard as I didn’t have any friends. But then in the second week I found lots of friends and it was fun and it wasn’t that hard really.
Do you have any favourite subjects? Sport and Maths.
What is it about Sport that you like? Sport is just fun doing stuff and you don’t have to do any work.
What is it about Maths that you like? I have a really good teacher and he’s really funny.
What are the biggest differences you have noticed between Canberra Montessori and Girls Grammar?
At Grammar there are a lot more people and there is more opportunity to do things. You have more facilities and it’s a bigger group so it’s really different.
What is it that you have struggled with leaving Montessori and transitioning to high school?
Not knowing anybody for the first week and then changing classes and getting homework.
In which areas do you think you have excelled? Is there an area that you think you do better because of your Montessori schooling?
In science I can answer a lot of questions that other kids can’t because at Montessori we do a lot of demonstrations with the teachers.
Have any of your teachers commented about your learning style or how it is different from the other students?
Not really but one teacher, since I work differently she thought that everyone went to the junior school and they didn’t. When I didn’t understand things she wondered why.
How do you think your transition from Montessori to high school could have been improved?
I think it would be better to have more tours of the school so you weren’t as lost walking around the school.
I think it would have been better if we could have had a few more introductions to the school so we could have met more people at the school.
Do you have any advice to students that are in a similar position, currently attending Montessori and transitioning to a traditional high school next year?
It’s good to be really organised. It would be best to get a map of your school so you knew where to go and mark the spots where you need to go at the start and during the day.
What do you miss from your old school? What are your greatest memories from Canberra Montessori?
Well, what I miss about it is not having the freedom to do the work that you choose to do.
My greatest memories are going on all the goings out that we could go on and organising them ourselves.
What were some of your favourite places to visit?
The zoo, six of us went and we split into two groups. My group went to the aquarium and looked at all the fish.
Do you notice any differences between you and the other students that you can attribute to your Montessori schooling? Do you think you approach your work differently?
Probably, in maths I do the fractions differently by drawing a pie and breaking it up into bits. Everyone else does it in another way.
How have you found homework?
I think homework is useless, when they give it to us we don’t really learn anything from doing it because when we hand it back in they don’t really mark it and tell us what we’ve done wrong with it, so we don’t know how to fix it if we’ve done it wrong.
What does Montessori mean to you? When someone says Montessori what do you think of? What images come to mind?
I think of the classroom and the teachers and all the different materials.
If someone asked you what is Montessori – what would you say, how would you describe what Montessori is?
It’s somewhere where we get to do the work that we choose to do. We don’t get recess or homework and we don’t have to wear a uniform.
Is there anything else you would like to mention?
At Montessori I made lots of really, really good friends. Some of them I have been with for ten years. We also never had a canteen at Montessori - that would have been fun.
You mentioned having to be more organised, have you had to organise your work differently?
You have to be really organised. I have all these different folders for every subject, which is what most people have. But some people they don’t have folders and they just throw all their work into their lockers and it’s a lot harder for them to get ready for class as they can’t find their books and they can be late. So it’s better to have everything a lot more organised.
You mentioned in science you have been able to answer some questions that the other student’s haven’t because you did some hand on experiments with the teachers, are there any in particular that stand out in your mind?
God with No Hands. They read us a story about the solids, liquids and gases and about how the particles cling together in solids and how they just buzz around in gases and sort of flow in liquids, so I could answer questions about particles.
Can you tell us about your recent Calisthenics competition?
I came first in Graceful, which is sort of like ballet but without the point shoes. If I get in the top four at the next competition I can go to the nationals.
Congratulations Leah, thank you for the interview and best wishes for Calisthenics and Term 2!
If you think Leah looks familiar I interviewed her Dad here. I loved Leah's story about God with No Hands! If you are new to Montessori - look it up, it's one of Montessori's Five Great Lessons for the elementary years.