When I am asked to explain the importance of the kindergarten year of a Montessori student I get very passionate. I have the unique experience of being a Montessori parent as well as a Montessori teacher, so I have seen the remarkable metamorphosis of children in my classes, as well as in my own children.
Having taught for many years before my first son reached kindergarten, I knew that a Montessori education worked and I felt it was superior to anything that the other area schools could provide. By that time, I had seen hundreds of children excel in the Montessori program and knew that my own son would be no different. Still though, I had the same concerns that I hear repeated every year from other parents: How will he transition when he leaves Montessori? What if he never “chooses” to learn to read? Is it worth the private school tuition when I can get kindergarten for free?
I am here to say though that year after year, those parents (including myself) share the tremendous sense of success in having chosen Montessori for the Kindergarten year.
The best analogy that I can give for the kindergarten year is that of the building of an archway. When children are three and four in a Montessori classroom they build their foundation of knowledge. As they learn their isolated letter sounds and numbers with the materials, refine their fine motor skills, and learn to be a good member of their community, they are building up the pillars of their archway. It is during the kindergarten year though that, using the foundation they have built, they can tie all of that knowledge together to create a beautiful, strong support system for their future success.
For those children not continuing in the Montessori program, they still have great pillars of knowledge gained from their preschool years which they will continue to build, but the “coming together” of concrete materials and abstract concepts will not be as strong as the archway could have been.
Over the years I have been fortunate enough to give my children many gifts. We have taken trips, had elaborate birthday parties, and numerous toys. But the one gift that I feel is the most important that I have given them, that they will have with them their whole life, is the gift of their education. And I truly believe that their Montessori foundation, including the kindergarten year, will be with them forever.
Parent of Nathan (15) and Brandon (9) and
Curriculum Coordinator at The Westmont Montessori School