Finding the right school for your child and getting them started at the right time can significantly impact their development. Enrolling your child in a Montessori school is always an excellent idea, but what age is best to get your child started? At what age is it too early or too late to enroll into a Montessori school? Montessori education has options available for all age groups, up to secondary education, though most focus on daycare, preschool, and kindergarten classes.
What Age Was Montessori Intended For?
When you start learning more about Montessori philosophy, you may realize that there are many elements to it that are more of a lifestyle. Many aspects of Montessori can be utilized at home or in the classroom. Even before your child is born, you can set up a prepared environment in the nursery and gather Montessori materials. For that reason, many believe that it is never too early or too late to begin with Montessori education.
Self-directed learning methods can be used at any point in time, no matter the age of the child.
Benefits of Montessori By Age Group
Although the most popular age range to begin Montessori is between the ages 2.5 to 6 years old, the principles of Montessori are ageless.
However, you mustn’t forget that young children have extremely absorbent minds. When put in an environment that guides them and fosters their interests and passions, children can grow remarkably quick. That is why Montessori schools direct their focus to younger students, starting with toddlers. Some Montessori programs even accept 8-week old infants and their mothers.
Let’s take a look at how Montessori schools benefit children by their age group:
8 Weeks to 18 Months
Yes, babies can be raised the Montessori way! Infants can learn so much about the world when put in a Montessori program. The focus for these younger learners is to open them up to the world, to build trust and personality, as well as give them a foundation in sensory learning. As the child starts to gain awareness, there are also practices for emotional and physical health, routine, and language acquisition.
18 Months to 3 Years
Programs for toddlers have become increasingly popular in the US, as they are a wonderful transition from home to school. For toddlers, the focus is independence. The Montessori activities for this age group focus on physical coordination, social development, respect, cooperation, and self-care.
During this time, a toddler-filled Montessori classroom is full of motion and creativity. Toddlers are allowed to explore and begin their practice of life skills, such as putting away dishes or pouring themselves a glass of water.
3 to 6 Years Old
Often the largest class at a Montessori school, the age group between 3 and 6 years old is diverse and multi-faceted. Younger children work together with older children who become their role models and leaders. Older children are pushed to continue mastering the skills that the younger students are just beginning to grasp.
Starting your child during this period means they are going to be placed in a fluid classroom with endless opportunities for working with others. They will have a chance to develop language and mathematical skills, as well as practical life skills, like hygiene and organization.
This is more than a daycare program. Children in a primary program (between the ages of 2 and a half to 6 years old) learn skills that will carry them through life.
6 to 12 Years Old
While Fishtown Montessori does not offer elementary level Montessori, it does exist. During this period, children study a variety of subjects, including art, reading, math, science, history, and geography. Instead of being pinned to a desk all day, children in a Montessori elementary class can independently research topics, discuss, observe, and work together or alone, all while developing creative and critical thinking skills.
When Is It Too Late To Start Montessori?
The preference among many teachers and parents is to introduce children to the Montessori lifestyle as soon as possible. Infant and toddler groups are ideal for establishing routines and rudimentary life skills, which are things that children crave to know right away.
Primary classrooms (between 2.5 to 6 years old) are widely available, making them an excellent starting point. Plus, starting your child at 3 years old means that they can be mentored by the older students, maximizing the benefits of the classroom.
Children who start around 5 years old often end up with knowledge and skill gaps that other students who have been attending Montessori school since 2 or 3 will have already mastered. Most children at 4-5 years old can catch up quickly if they were raised in a flexible household. However, some children already have set routines and patterns that are difficult to break, which could lead to some challenges in the beginning of their Montessori education.
Basically, the older a child is when they begin Montessori, the harder it may be for them to adjust. That said, there is no pressure on these children, as each child in the Montessori classroom has an individualized learning plan.
Looking For a Montessori School in Philadelphia?
The best time to enroll your child into a Montessori school is between the ages of 2.5 and 6 years old, when they are most sensitive to the world around them. During this time, children master a wide set of skills while pursuing their interests. So start looking for a Montessori school sooner than later!