Authentic Montessori schools do not practise partial montessori. Some montessori schools claim that they are montessori but they do not practise mixed age grouping and 3 hr work cycle. A lof of parents in Singapore are uncomfortable with mixed age grouping hence a lot of montessori schools still group their children as Nursery, K1 and K2.
The 3 hour work cycle is necessary because children take time to settle down, to start choosing materials and working on it. Some schools only allot 1/2 hour to 45 mins of Montessori time and called it a montessori school. This is certainly not a montessori school!
Besides, the school needs to carry the various curriculum areas materials such as practical life, sensorial, mathematics, language, cultural (botany, arts, music). Some schools have only practical life and sensorial or language materials. Some have inadequate cultural materials.
Classrooms are orderly and neat, but not necessarily quiet as the children will be busy doing their work with teachers monitoring the class and assisting children whenever in need.
Children have the freedom to choose the materials they want to work with and teachers will be monitoring the progress of each child. Older children are able to tell the teachers what they have worked on for that day. Some children will work individually, while others work in small groups.
Most montessori schools here are not full montessori schools because of our culture. Parents want to see worksheets given to children to gauge what they have learnt in school. Montessori for Children in East Coast and Newton, Greentree Montessori are by far the most authentic ones as teachers are trained in AMI.
I do not agree that full montessori cuuriculum do not blend into the normal primary school education because Montessori curriculum is a very comprehensive system that covers not only primary one and two curriculum in language and math area, but even for science, it covers to higher primary levels.
Take math for example, children learn geometry and fractions at K2, that is necessary for even P1 where children need to learn 2D and 3D figures and express them in simple forms and learn addition and subraction of fractions (Pr 3), they also learn patterns using the material called Tesselations (in schools only P4 start learning tesselations). Montessori has a material called Geometric cabinets where children learn about the different shapes and their properties, so children know that ‘acute angles, obtuse angles, etc’ (for Pri 3).
There is another material called Decimal system where children are taught to recognise ones, tens, hundreds and thousands and they do addition, subtraction from it through a game called The Bank Game. Decimals are only learnt in P4. This material teaches children to learn whole numbers of more than 10000 or even 100,000 and children learn to round up to the nearest whole numbers (all these are only learnt in P4).
There are now many preschools that uses some of the montessori concepts to incorporate into the classrooms (eg lacing, cutting, sorting) which is good.
I do not agree that montessori schools need to incorporate both basic montessori activiites and other activities like art and craft, music and movement and individual work time. If the school is run by a properly trained montessori personnel, she would have included them in the classroom as these all come under the ‘Cultural’ curriculum.
It is true that there is no one best system for the children because certain children just do not fit into the classroom environment and that could be due to the lack of stimulation, teachers attitudes, the management of classrooms, inadequate staffing, etc.
Rather than looking for the best system, I would rather instill a love of learning in children, as I believe that this is far more superior than a child who excels academically.