Kindergarteners in Montessori elementary school have a lot to look forward to in their school year. Like in traditional schools, Montessori kindergarten is a formative time filled with exciting and affirming learning experiences. However, the Montessori method’s characteristic mixed-age classes, expansive curriculum, and emphasis on self-directed learning that results in the mastery of subjects and skills make Montessori kindergarten – and the learning that happens there – stand apart.
The Benefits of Mixed-Age Classes
Unlike in traditional pre- and elementary schools, Montessori schools have mixed-age classrooms. The first class a student joins is the primary program, which combines Montessori pre-school and kindergarten to bring children aged three to six into the same classroom. The three-year age range reflects the shared developmental stage of the children and offers multiple educational and social benefits. As students return to the same classroom, teachers, and cohort for three years, they get to learn at their own pace, benefit from their teachers’ deep knowledge of their interests and challenges, and gain greater responsibility and confidence as they grow from new first-year students into well-versed kindergarteners.
The Primary Program Curriculum
The Montessori primary program curriculum consists of five overarching topics: practical life exercises, sensorial, math, language, and cultural studies. Each of these topics has an array of activities and learning tools that introduce areas of study such as geography, history, botany, zoology, geometry, numerology, reading, and writing in a way that engages curiosity and meets students at their developmental stage. As kindergarteners experiencing these topics for their third year, students have an opportunity to delve deeper into the areas that interest them and benefit from further practice in the areas that challenge them.
Kindergarten: The Culminating Year
Kindergarten is an exciting year in Montessori schools. All the concepts and skills students have been exploring and practicing the two previous years come together to make a solid foundation for life-long learning. In their final year in the primary program classroom, kindergarteners get to really shine and lean into their mastery of the learning topics. As the older students in the mixed-age class, they also get to share what they’ve learned by teaching younger students, a well-known strategy for synthesizing and deeply integrating educational content and practical skills. The confidence students gain from demonstrating their new skills and knowledge, as well as the burgeoning confidence in their ability to direct their own learning, are key ingredients for the most beneficial outcome of their kindergarten year – a love of learning.