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by Sra. Anna (12/9/2010):

Choosing Montessori for the primary years, three to six, can be easy for parents because nothing else compares favorably to Montessori education for that age.  However, when it comes to the elementary years, many parents have questions and doubts.  Elementary programs are less common than primary programs and less well understood.  Additionally, there are many well-established choices for children six to twelve which are familiar to parents from their own educational experiences.  Most of these options will be adequate for most children.

I’m going to come clean today with three unvarnished truths that I wish all parents of children who are thinking of moving their children from Montessori to a traditional school for the elementary years would consider, so brace yourself:
– Maria Montessori designed the materials and the lessons for the elementary just as carefully and purposefully as those she designed for the primary.  Further, she designed the material of the elementary to build on what is accomplished in the primary.  Nowhere else will you find a curriculum that continues revisiting and re-illuminating the material that, through three long formative years, your children have already used and loved and learned from.
– Of parents who have made this shift to traditional schooling, particularly for the kindergarten year, the universal thing they have confessed to me is that it’s going fine, really, except their child may be a little bored.  Why do some parents resign themselves to thinking their children’s boredom is an acceptable price to pay for education?  There may be moments of tedium in a Montessori class, as in any class, but Montessori elementary is an exciting, science-oriented learning experience, designed to let children pursue their interests as deeply as they wish.
– When you chose Montessori for your three or four year old child, you empowered them to make choices, achieve deep concentration and find their own learning.  You sought out something more than an adequate experience for them.  You gave them a wonderful gift.  Will your six year child old be less deserving of that gift than your four year old child is?

Don’t worry.  If you should choose something other than Montessori for your child’s elementary years, I will not accost you and demand a reckoning.  I will wish you and them the best, and mean it.  But I will also secretly hope you’ve considered these three factors and reasoned through them to find your own best solution for your child’s education and future.

Peace to you and yours,
Anna Schwind
Elementary Directress
OakHaven Montessori School

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