Each year approximately one third of the established Montessori multi-aged classrooms will be children new to the Montessori experience. A phase-in orientation strategy in the first weeks of school is a valuable tool in helping new children become acclimated to the Montessori environment. The larger, established Montessori school likely already has an established phase-in policy that the Montessori 3-6 teachers follow. The independent Montessori school may have more flexibility in determining what approach works best for its particular group of students.
Phase-in orientation basically begins with a shortened work period and smaller class size to help introduce the environment to new students.
At the same time, returning students also benefit from a review of the grace and courtesy lessons. The shortened work period does not make the new student feel that school is "too long", and she leaves each day wanting to return to continue her exploration of her new Montessori environment. The smaller class size also helps the Montessori teacher in her effort to establish grace and courtesy, and rules and routines in the Montessori classroom.
How Phase In Orientation Helps New Students and Old Alike in the Montessori Classroom
Over the years I have implemented the phase-in strategy in almost every way possible. My favorite is when I have only my returning five- and six-year-old students attend the morning class with the new three-year-olds. At midday, the three-year-olds return home. The four-year-olds then join the older students for the afternoon class.
Some Montessori schools start the year with a small combination of new and returning students that stay perhaps an hour and a half each day for the first week. There might be two "shifts" each morning with different children in attendance. Every few days more students are added to the initial group of each shift until the entire class is present for the full time period. This can also be done over a period of two or three weeks.
Related NAMC Blogs:
- Orientation of New Students at Start of School - Montessori Summer Transition
- Orientation of New Students at Start of School- Montessori Parent Involvement
As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community.