What Is Special About Montessori Kindergarten, 3rd Grade, and 6th Grade?
Dr. Maria Montessori believed that having children of different ages in the same room develops leadership and responsibility. That is why at Arborland 3-6 year-olds form our Primary classroom, 1st-3rd graders form our Lower Elementary classroom, and 4th-6th grade form our Upper Elementary classroom. The younger children learn from looking at the older children. The older children are encouraged to show their work to the newcomers and become leaders in the process. Children who complete the full Montessori cycle of primary and elementary education emerge as well-adjusted individuals, socially, academically, and most importantly as natural leaders.
Here's how the 3-year cycle of Montessori magic happens:
• The youngest new arrivals get all the initial lessons in the first year and learn a lot by watching the older children. Their vocabulary grows fast as they absorb all the learning going on around them. They become comfortable and articulate through all the basic lessons. The rules become apparent to them through observation of the other children. They soon realize the freedom of movement in the room comes with the responsibility of respecting the freedom of others in the room. They learn patience, having to wait for the materials that are limited in number. This is how discipline grows slowly. Discipline is not enforced, it grows naturally.
• The second year is the time when the child has become very comfortable and is firming up all concepts learned. They are busy testing themselves in all areas and stretching the learning process. As they repeat what they have learned they build concentration.
• The third year is a very special year. These children are now the leaders of the room. If you walk into a primary room it is easy to identify the third-year children, as these are the ones working most independently with the greatest concentration. They are also the ones refining their leadership qualities by helping the other children. They are like little assistants to the teacher and it is a joy to watch them. It is always very sad to sometimes see a third-year child leave prior to the 3rd year. The chance of being the leader is denied to this child who has waited for two years to practice the leadership skills that have been learned and absorbed. The Montessori classroom is a very strong community of individual children who have bonded in their time together. If a child is removed in the third year, he/she loses a very special opportunity.
The 3-year cycle with the mixed age group is repeated in both the lower and upper elementary rooms. Kindergarten, 3rd grade and 6th grade are the years that children can fully become leaders in the classroom. The primary classroom gives the child the keys to the world and makes him/her a member of society. The elementary years give the child the keys to the universe. Montessori education shows the child where they fit into the universe. That is why it is extremely important for the child to complete the full 3-year cycle.