The pre-school experience does not have to end your child’s Montessori education.
It is possible to continue a Montessori education into the child’s primary years building upon and changing with the developmental needs of the child. The primary aged child’s curiosity and thirst for knowledge is intrinsic to their learning. The stars, nature, technology and social life raise great questions:
“Where did I come from?”
“What is a star made of?”
“What is my purpose for living?”
“What is justice?”
“What is happiness?”
“What is right from wrong?”
In a Montessori primary classroom, the child’s own questions provide the basis for exploration of the world. Because the questions are personal to each child, they are able to connect with knowledge, the teacher providing the subject matter to aid the child in his personal quest. The primary child wants to know everything about his world and the universe. He has a natural tendency to explore the world using the sciences, the arts and social studies.
This does not mean that the basics of reading, writing and mathematics will be ignored. During his pre-school year’s, he has acquired a measure of language, literacy of letters, numbers and writing skills. In the primary school, these basic skills are polished to become tools to use in his search for knowledge.
What if a child avoids a certain area of the environment? As in the pre-school, it is the teacher’s role to observe and draw out the child’s curiosity about the area being avoided. There are no time restraints to cover certain learning objectives, and endless time to explore and consolidate.
Art, Music and Physical Education are integrated into the school’s curriculum. Use of the art room is encouraged, music and drama taught, with extracurricular activities used to support the children’s studies. For physical education all the children have access to the outside area with afternoon indoor physical activities taking place in the main hall when the younger children have gone home.
Parents often ask whether there is enough provision for social development. As in the pre-school, students are grouped together, providing them with a broad social development. It encourages a tolerance and appreciation for people’s differences. Shy, introverted or less socially experienced children often becoming confident with those younger. Self-confident youngsters are given the opportunity to have a leadership role. As with the nursery, the multi-age groupings encourage learning. The younger children receiving stimulation from the older children’s activities. They strive to emulate the older children’s progress. The older children benefit in turn by helping the younger ones, reinforcing their knowledge in the process. Older children provide leadership, and develop reliable friendships, which some same age peers do not always provide.
Unlike the nursery age child, the primary child needs group experiences. This also maximises the potential of each individual in an environment that has a place for everyone, resulting in a great sense of belonging. The Montessori primary in many ways resembles an extended family. Everyone knows everyone. Work and learning is shared and enjoyed. There is free communication and movement, enabling an exchange of facts and discoveries
Will my child cope when the time comes to move to a more traditional system? Studies have indicated that they have little or no trouble with the transition, they are confident in their studies, make friends easily and have a balanced outlook on life.
Montessori – Based on helping the natural development of the human being
Traditional – Based on the transfer of the National Curriculum
Montessori – Children learn at their own pace and follow their own individual interest
Traditional – Children learn from a fixed curriculum according to a time frame that is the same for everyone
Montessori – Children teach themselves using materials specially prepared for the purpose
Traditional – Children are taught by the teacher
Montessori – The teacher works in collaboration with the children
Traditional – The class is teacher led
Montessori – Learning is based on the fact that physical exploration and cognition are linked
Traditional – Children sit at desks and learn from whiteboard and work sheets
Montessori – The child’s individual development brings its own rewards and therefore motivation
Traditional – Motivation is achieved by a system of reward and punishment.