“Education should no longer be mostly imparting of knowledge, but must take a new path, seeking the release of human potentialities.” – Maria Montessori
We hope the information included in this packet will be helpful to you as you make this very important decision for your child’s future. If you have more questions, please be sure to ask your child’s Teacher, or the Director of your center. We all want your child to have the best experience possible during this Kindergarten year. A positive experience at the beginning of the educational career is irreplaceable.
Of course, we are partial to the Montessori experience for children for the Kindergarten year. We strongly encourage you to take the following steps as you make your decision.
1. Observe your child in the classroom to familiarize yourself with his/her current abilities.
2. Observe a Kindergarten classroom in any other school you are considering. Make note of what the children are learning and compare to what your child is already doing. Watch for opportunities for individual learning and leadership.
Even though you may attend informational sessions at other schools, there is no replacement for first-hand observations.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR KINDERGARTEN?
Any child who turns five years old by September 1st is automatically eligible to be a Kindergartner. Not all children who are 5 years old before September 1st have to be considered a Kindergartner. Some parents, especially those of children with late August birthdays choose to wait another year for the Kindergarten year.
THE MONTESSORI TEACHERS
All Step By Step Montessori teachers have Montessori training through the age of six years old. Only a fully trained, competent Montessori teacher can take your child as far as he or she can go.
The Montessori teachers play an unobtrusive role in the classroom. She is there as a guide. She gives the children the opportunity of teaching themselves through the use of Montessori materials when they are most eager to learn a subject. She sets up the environment for optimal learning opportunities, introduces each child to new materials and concepts as soon as they are ready, and observes each child as they practice and master new lessons. The teacher’s job is also to find and enhance the uniqueness of each child. Each child learns by doing and finds knowledge by absorption and understanding. Repetition of work and the inner satisfaction of mastering a task or understanding a subject reinforces the child’s learning.
THE KINDERGARTEN CURRICULUM: WHAT IS IT?
Although the child is indeed a kindergartner during this year, Montessorians try not to look at the year as a separate “Kindergarten Program.” It is part of the total years we have with that child, and is a continuation of the previous Montessori experience. The more time the child spends in the Montessori Kindergarten classroom, the more opportunities for learning there will be. The five year old child has reached a level of maturity allowing a longer work cycle, making more in-depth learning possible.
The Kindergarten curriculum consist of all the materials the child has been exposed to in the past, but takes them to a new level. The child sets the curriculum in that he or she masters skills at their own pace and may have special interest and talents in areas the rest of the class does not. A child may have an interest in social studies and desire to learn where every country is, what their flag looks like and the customs, animals and land formations found in each country. A traditional, classroom uses an already established curriculum, one that is used year after year, and is based upon the talents of the group’s norm. A child who has had a Montessori education will most likely be well beyond the norm offered in a traditional classroom.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF MONTESSORI KINDERGARTEN?
There are many advantages to continuing with Montessori through the Kindergarten year. For the returning Montessori child, it is the year in which all previous learning will fall into place. This is the year the child begins to make rapid advancements. The child uses the basic knowledge they have gained in prior years and adds complexity, delving more deeply into math, language, and geography
Maria’s Montessori’s explains how the chemistry in a young child’s mind allows for the absorption of all things in the environment. Everything a young child sees, hears, and senses is absorbed but not always made sense of. At around the age of six, the chemistry in the child’s brain begins a slow change. The child can then reason and make more sense of what they were exposed to earlier.
The kindergarten year at Montessori is the most productive year of the Montessori education. Some Montessori educators describe this year as the “learning explosion”. This is the time that the learning absorbed during the earlier years of Montessori training fits together. Keeping the child in the Montessori environment during this year continues the progress made earlier and reinforces the child’s learning skills and good learning habits.
Kindergartners spend at least a portion of their day in the mixed-age Montessori classroom. It is to the advantage of all children that they are mixed. This environment offers countless opportunities to develop leadership skills and responsibility. A child who has been in the Montessori classroom for preschool has watched other children become the leaders in class and looks forward to the time that they will be that leader. If the child transfers to a traditional Kindergarten classroom, they are on equal footing with all of the other five year old students, and this opportunity to be a leader is missed.
HOW ARE GOOD LEARNING HABITS DEVELOPED?
Step By Step Montessori fosters good learning habits through developing self-discipline, concentration, a sense of order and persistence in completing a task. These habits are promoted very early in the child’s life at Montessori. Most say that their child is a self-directed, independent, always willing to help others, confident and always a leader at school. These characteristics are some of the nonacademic benefits in a Montessori environment.
WOULD TRANSFERING TO A TRADITIONAL SCHOOL AT THE KINDERGARTEN LEVEL BE MORE LOGICAL THAN AT FIRST GRADE?
No. A transition to a new classroom environment is more natural at the first grade level. A child is socially and emotionally more mature to handle this transition at six going on seven. They are developmentally more able to adjust and separate from old friends and teachers and make new friends. Children move on to new teachers and classmates going into first grade, so it’s a complete new mix of students. In a typical first grade classroom, the teacher and classroom are better equipped to challenge children from different abilities, having math and reading groups available. We recommend that as you enroll your child into first grade, you request a conference with your child’s first grade teacher before school starts so that the teacher is aware of your child’s abilities and of your expectations and desires for your child. This will help ease an interruption of learning for your child.
THE FINANCIAL COMMITMENT
Of course we realize that it is a big financial commitment to keep your child in Montessori for Kindergarten. If your other option is the public school, you have been looking forward to the day you are not paying fees for childcare. If your family has been able to manage with the expense so far, please consider being able to manage for one additional year.
As parents, make sure that you are the only ones making this decision for your child. A friend, neighbor, relative, or even your own child does not understand his/her needs as you do, and you should not feel pressured because of their comments. You are the one who has done your homework and are responsible for making decisions that will better the opportunities for your child.
The longer that the child is in the Montessori environment, the greater the probability that the child will make the learning skills and good learning habits he/she has acquired a permanent part of his/her development.
“The first duty of an education is to stir up life, but leave it free to develop” – Maria Montessori