By SJMS Children's House Teacher, Molly Murphy
Many parents ask themselves about the importance of Kindergarten in the scope of children's house. Their child becomes the wonderful age of five and they are faced with the complex decision…Do we stay in Montessori for his/her Kindergarten year? We all know young children are resilient and are often faced with change and transition. Unlike many adults, children handle change with grace and stride. Yet, we must heavily weigh what makes the most sense.
When choosing a Montessori education for preschool, it was made clear that this type of schooling was taught in a three year cycle. When looking at the vast array of early childhood research, children ages 3-6 are always grouped together. These ages are progressing from concrete to abstract in all areas. As Montessori put it they are in the same "plane of development.” They are taking all the skills they mastered as infants and toddlers and refining them to be successful school age children. That third year in the classroom is when everything clicks or comes together. Our Kindergarteners have become critical thinkers and problem solvers. They are role models in their community and are confident to take on tasks on their own. They have become well rounded learners ready to take on the most challenging of tasks.
Speaking of being a role model, the opportunity to be a leader in the very place you were once a conscientious observer, is priceless. The SJMS Kindergartener now becomes a teacher to their younger peers. As they give presentations and help others, they are building independence and autonomy that is often missed in other educational settings.
When transitioning to another school there can be lag time at the beginning of the year as the teacher is taking time to assess each child to see just where they are academically. In the Montessori classroom, this is not the case. The child and the teacher(s) have known one another for a long time and there is a mutual understanding of skill level and expectations. As the Kindergarten child enters on their first day of school, they are ready to pick up right where they left off. All of the levels in the Montessori setting are based around this concept.
The beauty of the Montessori curriculum is that the materials were created to meet the needs of all children in the environment. The World Map can be used by a three year old as a puzzle where they are simply learning to associate the colors of the continents to the names. The second year child is now able to trace and color the pieces to make a map of their own. While the Kindergarten age child is now learning the names of individual countries of the continents and are able to identify corresponding flags to the countries. The concepts become part of the child, something they will carry with them forever.
As Montessorians, we are taught to take each child where they are and give them the tools to “make them sing”. This Kindergarten year is when this all comes together. They are confident and able and ready to become well prepared for first grade and beyond.