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Why The 3-Year Montessori Cycle Matters

Kindergarten is a magical year in the Montessori program when all the learning that has taken place in the previous years reaches fruition and a child’s knowledge begins to fall into place.

But this capstone year can become a crossroads for some parents, who may consider pulling a child from Montessori after the 2 Primary years because:

  • They want to start the child in a school that will take them through high school

  • They risk missing placement in the first grade of the desired school (which is what they're led to believe)

  • They can go tuition-free to a school that touts its curriculum as top-rated

  • They want their child to go to a neighborhood school, possibly walking there each day

Pulling your child out before kindergarten could deprive him of the most desirable outcomes for the Montessori method. In kindergarten, children build upon what they have learned, experience rapid academic and social growth and their skill level dramatically increases when they are given the opportunity to consolidate their knowledge within the Montessori classroom.

At HMS, we observe our Kindergartners ready to explode into more complex learning and discovery and they delve into a wealth of new and interesting materials. They are guided to take on more and more complex work, begin to learn time management skills and have an increased set of expectations and privileges in the classroom.

Two hallmarks of Montessori education make the biggest argument for staying with Montessori through the capstone year: mixed-age grouping and the 3-year cycle. They matter because:

  • The capstone year is the leadership or consolidation year, in which your third-year child takes great pride in solidifying all she has learned over the past 2 years and assumes greater responsibilities in the classroom. This happens naturally, because it was modeled for her when she was younger.

  • Your child will have the same teacher for 3 years. The teacher truly knows your child. And you get to know the teacher over the longer cycle; the relationship between school and family builds on trust and mutual respect.

  • The 3-year cycle allows your child to acquire skills and academic knowledge at his own pace. There is no set timetable for mastery but instead offers him 3 full years to acquire capability.

  • The social-emotional world of the 5- to 6-year- old evolves into more collaboration with peers: solving problems, working out conflicts, and coming to understand the other person. This happens naturally in Montessori because students have been together for all this time and know each other well—and they know this classroom, this environment

Children who have completed the full Early Childhood cycle, matriculate confidently into first grade in a non-Montessori program or into Lower Elementary in a Montessori school. If you've made the investment of time and money into Montessori early childhood education, don't interrupt the full benefits that Montessori students can reap from completing the intended program.

Excerpts taken from original article, Please Stay…Here’s Why, by Donohue Shortridge

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