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I’m new to The Green Parent - we have just moved to Devon from Perth in Western Australia where my two children, aged 10 and 7, went to a wonderful Montessori school for ages 3 - 18. I also worked there as a classroom assistant and teacher in training.
We moved to the UK for a number of reasons but pulling them out of their school was very difficult, they were thriving there. I scoured the internet looking for a Montessori in Devon but found nothing. So I have them on the waiting list for the Steiner Academy Exeter. There’s no guarantee of a place though, so in the meantime they are at a local mainstream primary (that was my biggest dread!), and have just finished their second week. They have come home very frustrated with many questions of why things are done are certain way as it doesn’t make any sense to them. I am actually very proud of them exercising their critical thinking skills that we’ve worked so hard to instill! But I’m concerned at their developing negative feelings towards learning, and their own abilities, particularly my youngest, his behaviour has become quite anger driven and aggressive - and this is just after two weeks! Their teachers are lovely, but the jam-packed nature of the curriculum and the fast paced way everything needs to be done is just not sitting well with me, or the children. I can’t see it being a long term option.
I have considered homeschooling, but would have to consider the financial impact of this. I’m wondering if anyone out there knows of any school that approaches things a little ‘alternatively’? One that focuses on the development of the whole child, sees the importance of allowing them time to consolidate their learning, nurtures their curiosity and allows them to work at their own pace, provide opportunities for outdoor learning and independence. Doesn’t have to be Montessori, but something with a similar ethos/philosophy. We are near Exeter but would consider moving if it meant the school sat more in harmony with our values. Then we could all relax and be a lot happier and spend time in the great outdoors rather than worrying about school!
Oh, and does anyone know much about the Steiner free school meant to be opening in North Devon, or the one in Cornwall (Truro I think)?
Hey, Melanie, I am also a newbie here and am based in Ontario, Canada. My elder sister moved to Devon a couple of years before for work. She has a daughter undertaking schooling in Devon Gardens Elementary School. As far as I know, my niece is doing fine (I haven’t met them after they moved to the UK). After reading your post, I think it’s better to homeschool your children. Nowadays, many parents choose to teach their children at home, instead of enrolling them and making them study within the formal settings of public or private school. It is intense parenting, as parents spend more time with their children, doing the hard work and having the patience to educate their kids. Advances in digital learning and availability of Montessori materials online make homeschooling easier and more effective than ever. Homeschooling, though, in many cases, can reap rich rewards and can deliver many benefits in making kids smarter. Recent studies show that homeschooled students on average outperform their peers on standardized tests and homeschooled graduates are active and involved in their communities, more involved in civic affairs, and more are “very happy” with life. In homeschooling, students are helped individually, and teachers ensure that all students master a basic skill or concept before going to more advanced one. And also you won’t have to worry about the jam-packed nature of the curriculum. If you’re considering this idea be prepared to have tons of patience. Refrain from pressuring your child to learn a skill or knowledge before they are ready. Have patience not only with your children but also with yourself.
It would be lovely to have a Montessori school that had children of all ages. I don’t know of one in the UK.
As far as I can tell you have Park School, a democratic primary school in Dartington, Totnes. http://www.parkschoolonline.com/
And then you have the Sands School, a democratic secondary school in Ashburton. http://www.sands-school.co.uk/
They both look great if you don’t want to educate them at home.
I wondered how you got on in the search for more alternative schools in Devon? We are looking to move to the area and any advice on schools would be greatly received