Firm Foundations For Infinite Development
Montessori education offers a unique experience designed to help your child maximize her/his potential;
an educational environment that is purposefully designed to meet her/his unique developmental needs;
and adults who are specifically trained to put her/him in touch with exactly what she/he needs at that very moment to learn.
Many five-year-olds are ready for what is termed the “Extended Day” program. While it is very important they complete their third year as leaders in the first class, they also have the option of spending the other half of the day with children only at their own level. Here they delve further into many areas of the curriculum and gain practice with the many new skills they are learning. This group is becoming very social and cooperative learning is common. Their year is crowned by a graduation event with appropriate pomp and ceremony. Children enter the extended day program only on recommendation of their teachers and after having spent some time in a primary (preschool) classroom.
Our Extended Day program is available for primary children, usually at about age 5, who show the maturity, self-direction and academic levels that allow them to attend a full day, half of it as leaders in the primary classroom, the other half with other extended day children. Why do we have this option for our “kindergarten” children?
I can’t laud this program enough. Although it’s not really financially rewarding, we have always made the sacrifice to offer Extended Day because of the great growth that goes on for the children during this year. The most important part of the year is their growth in leadership, experienced in the primary half of their day. It’s for this reason that we do not have children attend only the Extended Day half of the day. On its own, it does not result in the same kind of progress in self-esteem and confidence. But when the two are coupled, the children feel a sense of identity as leaders in the primary school, which gives them the kind of inner motivation that leads to great academic growth. It is here that they are introduced to the wonderful story of the Time-Line of Life, when their concept of time expands to the global view and they begin to see the inter-connectedness of everything and everyone. They are also becoming confident readers and mathematicians, gaining a clearer understanding of world cultures and geography, and expanding their practical life experiences to become more independent and in charge. Of course, they experience the same kinds of experiences in the primary class, but there is more scope for fulfillment of all their needs in the Extended Day class. Please note that, while we do not judge our students’ levels by age, it is usually some time during their fifth year that they are ready. If you think your child may be ready (even if they are younger), talk to his or her teachers to see what they recommend. We work together, as a staff, to consider each child’s readiness. We look, not so much at academic readiness, although that is a consideration, but at their ability to work independently, at their self-motivation, self-discipline and general maturity and comfort in our program. I hope this answers your questions regarding Extended Day; if you have more, please feel free to make an appointment to talk to the teachers or myself.
Ready for the Next Level
Usually by Spring of their graduation year, students begin to show signs of being ready to move on. No longer requiring as much sensorial input, they are ready for more abstract learning, more group work, and show a tremendous curiosity about a wide range of subjects. Confident leaders, they work well independently, but are ready for the stimulation of older students and an expanded base of learning.