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My son is just a couple of months away from starting at his Montessori preschool. In preparation for this very exciting event, I spent some time the other day filling out paperwork and reading the school handbook. One of the documents I had to sign was a statement of my commitment to keep my son in the primary (3-6yrs) program for the full three-year cycle. At first I was surprised by such a document– I hadn’t ever heard of an explicit agreement like this from parents before. But, I was also very glad to see it.

The Montessori primary program is designed as a three-year cycle. Much of the material and exercises in the first year or two not only help the child achieve a direct, immediate goal (such as dressing and cleaning after themselves, or learning the sounds of each letter of the alphabet), but also serve an indirect purpose of laying the foundation for future work and learning. For example, the math material is a series of exercises that guides the child starting with the most concrete and basic introduction to numbers and quantity. Over the following three years the lessons build upon themselves, adding layers of abstractness and an increasing understanding of mathematical concepts, until the child is eventually able to add, subtract, multiply, and divide — with a deeply ingrained understanding of what those operations mean — using only pencil, paper, and his or her head.

There is also a social component. The mixed-age grouping is not accidental. Each child benefits from being exposed to those who are older, and younger, than they are. The younger children have role models to look up to from the very first day of class. They quickly learn how to behave and what is acceptable from watching the older children. They also see the older children working on the more advanced material, which piques their interest and curiosity. The older children, in turn, benefit from being mentors to the younger ones. One of the best ways to internalize knowledge is to explain it to others, and often an older child will help teach certain concepts to a younger child. The oldest children in the classroom naturally take on a position of leadership, which has been modeled for them by the children before them. This opportunity to lead can be a huge pay-off for many children and helps them build confidence and self-esteem.

Unfortunately, many parents will begin their child in a Montessori school at age 3, but then after completing the first or second year they pull the child from the classroom and enroll them in the Kindergarten of their future elementary school. These children are robbed of that precious third year– the opportunity to complete the full cycle of activity with the classroom materials and curriculum, and the chance to be the leaders that they themselves had looked up to those previous years. They laid a foundation for something that was never completed.

A Montessori education, even if limited, still has great benefits. Returning to the math example, I personally feel that the golden bead material alone (an early set of lessons in the math curriculum) would help many of us greatly increase our understanding of numbers and mathematical operations. However, without that third year, their education will be incomplete. Some of the efforts of the child and teacher, that indirect preparation, will have been wasted. Imagine the child’s education as a house– the first year builds a solid foundation, and the second and third years erect the walls and, finally, the roof to top it off. The foundation is still useful on its own, but the house becomes a home, and much more significant, if one is allowed to build it to completion. As parents, we should do everything possible to give our children the full Montessori experience.

Marcy Hogan Montessori Blog Published Monday, Mar. 25 2013, 1:15 AM EST

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What Others are Saying About Us...

"Over the past five years, both of our children attended Westbrook Montessori Academy. Our son started out as a shy three-year-old and graduated as a confident, outgoing child eager to enter elementary school. Now in Grade 3, he works independently and solves problems based on the skills taught and practiced at Westbrook. He is also successful with group work, understands the concept of sharing and truly enjoys being in the classroom. 

Our daughter, also an introvert, flourished in an environment where she could appreciate the balance of a structured classroom environment complemented with unstructured play time. The teachers saw her knack of helping others and encouraged her by providing informal mentoring opportunities for her younger classmates. The Montessori experience has definitely prepared her academically as well as socially for her entrance into Grade 1 next year. 

Westbrook Montessori Academy helped lay a foundation for our two children that they will carry throughout their lives. The owner of the school, Riz Ratanshi, and his entire staff truly care about the well-being of the children. They understand how every child is unique in how they learn and the speed with which they process information. The atmosphere is extremely supportive and nurturing while instilling the core concepts of the Montessori philosophy. 

We will truly miss Riz and the teachers now that our children have moved on. We were privileged to be part of the Westbrook community and will always be grateful to the school for the groundwork that it provided for our children. We have and will continue to recommend Westbrook to anyone looking for an enriching experience for their kids. Thank you Westbrook for the wonderful memories."

CCMA Accredited School:

The Canadian Council Of Montessori Administrators Accredited School

We believe that all children possess an innate ability to learn.

Westbrook Montessori Academy
7227 Copenhagen Road
Mississauga, Ontario L5N 2C6, Canada
Phone :  (905) 826-4648