Why parents should enroll their children in Apple Montessori Kindergarten in New Jersey!
We all want our children to be academically successful but also realize that they possess talents and needs that go beyond the academic. Most educators talk about meeting the needs of the whole child but somehow, miss the boat, in the implementation of various programs. Some schools are so concerned about the child’s social and emotional development that the academics suffer while others are so academically oriented that everything else is eclipsed. Montessori strikes a perfect balance between the two ends of the spectrum because we realize that unless the social and emotional needs are met little academic progress is possible.
This brings us to the Kindergarten year. Young children do not learn the way adults and older children do. Lectures are ineffective. Their reading skills are not advanced enough to depend on textbooks. These children are still in what Maria Montessori called a “sensitive period” of development. They literally absorb information from their environment and learn best by whole body involvement.
The importance of Kindergarten
Motor skills, such as being able to hold a pencil, can be developed through every activity in the Montessori classroom even before a child ever picks up a pencil to write. Concepts, such as how numbers work, are clearly evident from working with the enriched Montessori materials long before a child sits down to write 2 + 2 = 4. Social interaction doesn’t just happen, it is actively taught through the exercises in “grace and courtesy.” Teamwork, cooperation, and time management is incorporated into most activities that Kindergartners engage in. Most important, it is during the Kindergarten year that all the bits and pieces of information that the children have collected thus far come together in a cohesive whole that is now available for the child to use!
As evidenced by comments from the graduating Kindergartners, some of their fondest memories of this important year are the times they got to be leaders. They love “helping the babies,” “putting out lunch boxes,” “reading to the class.”
These opportunities are real because they ARE the oldest children in their classes. In most educational settings the Kindergartners ARE THE BABIES of the school!
Usually during the Pre – K year the children are able to take all those early impressions they have of letters and sounds and suddenly the light bulb goes on and they realize, “If I say each sound and blend them all together… I can read!” The child who moves to a new Kindergarten program will be confronted by teachers and peers who aren’t familiar with the “lingo” of learning to read through our reading program and may feel misunderstood.
Think back to your recent observation and ask yourself: Is my child comfortable and happy? How does she interact with other children? Does he choose his own activities? How long can she concentrate? Does he seem confident and is she excited about what she can do in school?
Then visit the Kindergarten program that you are considering for your child and look for the same kind of factors in that class. Watch how those children interact. Are they considerate of one another? Is there a lot of tattling going on? Do the children turn to the teacher for assistance and how frequently do they depend on her rather than their own abilities? One-on-one time with the teacher sounds like a good thing – but not if it’s encouraging the child to depend on the teacher for help, encouragement, and attention. An emotionally healthy child can reward him or herself for deeds well done and knows how to “self-start” without an adult telling them what to do next.
Finally, consider the academic aspects of Montessori and the other program. Most likely, your four-turning-five child has begun to read simple words. Will he or she have to sit through “the letter of the week” lessons for most of the Kindergarten year? Probably, your four-turning-five child can do some simple operations in math and has some understanding of the decimal system from working with the golden beads. Are any of the Kindergarten children in the other program adding or subtracting any numbers bigger than 9? Then look at the science or social study materials and activities in the potential classroom. Are any available for the children to simply touch and examine or are all of the activities teacher directed (and controlled)? Do you see a gleam of curiosity in the eyes of the children or are they mostly waiting for the teacher to tell them what to do next?
Parents often worry that it will be easier for their child to adapt to a new social group when all the children are new to the program. The fact is that until about age eight children will play with anyone who is available. If their “best friend” is absent they will play with someone else. New children are in fact enticing to the rest of the group and are usually welcomed quickly and easily.
Personally, I believe that familiarity breeds success. The child who completes the Kindergarten cycle of learning in the familiar Montessori classroom is free to concentrate on learning and growing rather than being distracted by a need to make new friends and adjust to a new system.
Finally consider this question. Will your child’s ultimate academic career be better enhanced if he or she is confident, curious, and excited about learning or will your child spend the next two years repeating lessons he or she has already learned – and losing interest in school in the process? Any “reading” child who has to sit through a year of “letter of the week” lessons will quickly learn to dislike school.