Maybe you think you’d like to send your child to a Montessori daycare or preschool, but you’re not sure what the best age is for starting Montessori. You are not alone. One of the most common questions we get is what is the best age for beginning Montessori? Here’s the thing, there’s no one right answer to this question. Like so many other parenting-related questions, the right answer is the one that works best for your family.
Infant Montessori Programs
Some families choose to enroll their newborns or young babies in infant programs at Montessori schools. A Montessori infant program is for babies from birth through 18 months and focuses on providing a comforting & nurturing environment to care for them. As the children grow and become mobile, they can explore their environment, which is created specifically for them.
Toddler Montessori Program
Children in a Montessori toddler program are ages 16 months through 3 years old. In this program, young children begin to enjoy more independence in the classroom environment, they explore, and they start learning the foundations of what they’ll need when they’re ready to start school. They know how to wash a table to clean up after themselves at lunch, but they’re also learning how to hold a pencil and the wrist movement they’ll need when they start writing in elementary school.
Toddlers learn how to interact with one another, work as a group, safely explore their environment and experience safe independence.
Klein-Spring Montessori’s youngest students are in the toddler program. We welcome them into our school at 16 months, and they stay in the toddler classroom until age 3.
Montessori Preschool Program
Once a child is three years old, they’re ready for the Montessori Primary classroom, similar to a traditional preschool program. Children in Primary are learning their ABCs; they’re learning to count, doing science experiments, and so much more. Our preschoolers enjoy a classroom environment that’s been designed with them in mind. They can work independently and freely in the classroom, choosing lessons that are interesting to them.
One of the main goals of Montessori education is to help children develop a love of learning, and we do this in part by allowing the child to lead their education by choosing their work. We make sure they learn the skills they need to be ready for elementary school, but they’re not always in the same order as everyone in the class; they’re in the order the child wants, which helps them enjoy learning. The Montessori Primary program goes from age 3 through kindergarten. Once they’ve finished Primary, they’re ready to enter the 1st grade.
Montessori Elementary Program
Some Montessori schools offer elementary or adolescent programs. Lower Elementary is where children are for grades 1-3. Upper Elementary is grades 4-6, and Adolescents is for grades 7 & 8. In a Montessori elementary or adolescent classroom, students work together in a multi-age classroom. They have been with the same teacher for several years, the same as the Toddler and Primary programs. This extended time with the teachers allows them to grow and develop and build strong bonds with their teachers. The multi-age classroom also allows children to learn from each other, the same as they do when they’re younger.
When is the best age for starting Montessori?
The answer is going to depend on your family’s specific daycare or preschool needs. For many children, the best age for starting Montessori is when they’re ready for either the Toddler or Primary classroom. Some will start in lower elementary, but very few will transition to Montessori in Upper Elementary or Adolescents because the learning methods are quite different from traditional schools, and the transition can be challenging. It’s easier to start Montessori young and transfer to another school when the time comes than to transfer into Montessori as an older child. Because 90% of a child’s brain development happens before age 6, many parents want to start Montessori before age 6 for maximum benefit.
If you’re considering a Montessori daycare or preschool for your child, we’d love to meet you and show you our school. Klein-Spring Montessori has served the Spring, TX area for over 35 years. We offer both Montessori daycare, our Toddler program, and Montessori Preschool, our Primary program. Contact us today to schedule a tour and learn more about our school.