“The human hand, so delicate and so complicated, not only allows the mind to reveal itself but it enables the whole being to enter into special relationships with its environment.”
– Maria Montessori
Montessori & Kindergarten
QUESTIONS PARENTS ASK ABOUT MONTESSORI KINDERGARTEN
Every year parents of children in their second year of Montessori begin to ask questions about continuing their child in the school for the kindergarten year. Published research on some of the questions is limited; however the experience of schools and parents thought the country, as reported in surveys and anecdotal accounts shows the following are the most frequently asked questions and their answers:
Why is it so important to continue my child in the kindergarten year at a Montessori school?
In the Montessori environment, the child is presented with endless opportunities to develop all his senses and his motor skills with the aid of self-correcting materials in a prepared setting. During the third year a child cannot only work with these materials in more depth, thus gaining more insights from them, but, using this base, can move into the academic areas.
Next, having learned from older children, shared with peers and helped younger children, the student has the opportunity to assume leadership within the classroom.
Once the child has established critical learning habits – concentration, self-discipline, a sense of order, persistence in completing a task, creative self expression and love for learning, (invaluable preparations for life) – these behaviors are reinforced in a supportive, exciting environment.
All preparations for later academic work and for social and emotional development, which have been so carefully nurtured in the three and four-year-old [children], are reinforced in the kindergarten year.
As one parent said, “Everything my child had learned up to [the kindergarten year] seemed to fall into place, and he was ready to meet other challenges once he had this foundation.”
Will a child have enough experience in working in groups in a Montessori school to become a successful group member in first grade?
A visit to any American Montessori school will show that considerable socializing and grouping takes place naturally in the environment and that the children behave in a socially responsible and orderly manner.
The Montessori approach eliminates many of the discipline problems found in more conventional environments. There are a few well-chosen ground rules which are consistently reinforced. The children learn to help one another and to care for one another, as well as taking care of their environment. Children are free to talk and move around, are treated with respect, and are not controlled by fear or punishments.
The ambiance of the Montessori classroom provides the opportunity for more meaningful talking and social interactions than a more traditional environment. Thus, the young child is well prepared from the Montessori experiences to act as a cooperative and skilled group member in first grade.
After three years in Montessori, won’t my child be bored in first grade?
The Montessori school cultivates a highly motivated child with a true love of learning; a child with a positive attitude toward school is motivated to learn in any environment.
Teachers respond favorably to children who are curious, self-disciplined and socially responsible, so it is more than likely that the Montessori graduate will be valued highly by his first grade teacher.
Of great importance, of course, is the parents’ attitude toward the new school and teacher. A little tact will go a long way toward fostering a good relationship and helping the transition to a different environment. It’s a good idea to visit the school to see what kinds of individualized programs are available. It’s also a good time to decide how to help your child pursue special interests (music, dance, and gymnastics) outside of the school environment.
THE AMERICAN MONTESSORI SOCIETY (AMS) is a non-profit educational society founded in 1960, whose purpose is to help children develop their potential through the educational principles of Dr. Maria Montessori. This includes the following: developing Montessori programs, accrediting schools, granting credentials, encouraging research, organizing seminars and symposia, and promoting all other areas which relate to the dissemination of Montessori philosophy
*This article, American Montessori Society The Kindergarten Experience, was written by The American Montessori Society 281 Park Avenue South New York, NY 10010
(212) 358-1250 Fax: (212) 358-1256 website: www.amshq.org.