When is it 'Too Late' for my Child to Start Montessori Schooling?
As a Montessori practitioner and teacher-educator, I can now see the reasoning behind this argument. The Montessori 3–6 classroom sets the foundation for the rest of the Montessori experience. The introductory lessons in Practical Life and Sensorial form the basis for the rest of the Montessori curriculum. In addition, the lessons in Grace and Courtesy help the child develop the skills he needs to work peacefully and independently. There is also the chronological progression of the three-year cycle and multi-age classroom to consider.
That said, I have accepted children who were not only older, but in the final year of the three-year cycle into my Montessori classrooms. Here are a few examples:
- Benjamin – a 6th year boy who was previously homeschooled with five younger brothers. He was excited to attend school, and Montessori fit what he had experienced at home. The first weeks were rough and many days he ended up in tears. Although he was two years behind in math, he persevered and became a leader in our class. He excelled that year in math, thanks to the Montessori materials and lessons, and moved to the middle school with his peers, where he scored the highest algebra marks of his class.
- Jean-Marc – a 6th year boy from Côte d’Ivoire who, in addition to being new to Montessori, spoke no English. He spent two years with me as a 6th year. At the end of his second year, he was fluent enough to present his multi-media 6th year project to an audience of over 200 people.
- Katie – a 6th year girl who was so quiet and unassuming, she fell through the cracks of her conventional school. Diagnosed with severe ADHD, Katie could not finish work. It was painful to watch her learn how to choose a work and follow it through to the end. A gifted linguist, Katie taught the whole class how to speak a language she had made up and we spent the entire year practicing with each other. Katie’s proudest accomplishment was completing her 6th year research project.
- Sarah and Kylie – both 3rd year girls who had no previous Montessori experience. The third-year group they belonged to seemed to be ruled by boys that year. These two girls had to overcome their initial shyness and find their place among these boys. Sarah was especially nurturing and took the first-year girls under her wing. Kylie was so shy, she did not speak for months. But when it came to academics, these two made the boys work hard to keep up!
Ultimately, there is no right or wrong answer to when a school accepts children. It is up to each school’s personal philosophy. Being an informed parent will help you make the right decision for your child.
For further reading:
My Most Rewarding Montessori Student - Making Friends
The Role of the Third Year Student in the Montessori Classroom
Answers to Real Questions About Montessori Mixed Age Grouping
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Wednesday, March 13, 2013.