Your child’s Montessori preschool uses what is known as a 3-year cycle for instructing children. This refers to the mixed-age groupings used in the classroom and underscores the importance of the kindergarten year. To illustrate how important the third year of the cycle is, consider some of the factors children are influenced by during their kindergarten year.
Earlier Lessons Solidify
Montessori preschool is an ongoing process that introduces a wide range of concepts. By the third and final kindergarten year, those lessons will begin to coalesce into knowledge and skills that the child will use for the rest of her education. Transferring out of the Montessori environment before the kindergarten year often results in the loss of some of those skills, requiring the child to re-learn information that would otherwise be readily available.
Purpose and Self-Esteem
In the Montessori classroom, kindergarteners are the older kids who the smaller ones look up to. This gives them a sense of purpose when they help younger children master concepts, and provides a boost to their self-esteem when they play the role of the older, wiser student.
Sense of Community
Montessori teaches children to be viable parts of the community they live in, including the classroom community. They learn to work with other students to achieve goals, help other children master difficult concepts, and bolster their self-esteem by providing a larger sense of purpose and inclusion.
Children usually stay with the same teacher throughout the 3-year cycle, often in the same classroom. This provides a sense of stability and continuity that is lacking in traditional schools. By kindergarten, your child will know who most of his classmates are, be familiar with his teachers and what is expected of him, and know where everything is in the classroom and how it should be used to master new ideas and practical skills.
Taking your children out of the Montessori environment before they have completed the kindergarten year takes away the feeling of progress and fulfillment they have worked for. It can also be disconcerting to leave the familiar routines of the Montessori Method only to be immersed in an educational system that works differently from what they have always known. Kindergarten may be considered the start of a real education, but for the Montessori student it also marks the coming graduation into bigger and better things.