It used to be that kindergarten was a transition year. The kindergarten year was the bridge between being a preschooler and the excitement of being a first grader and part of the larger educational organization. It was the year a child learned to walk to school or take the bus, how to sit attentively with a friend or learn what a joy the playground could be. Kindergarten and the expectations for that year as it relates to first grade have changed dramatically. Although all of the excitement of the first steps into being a “student” remain, what your child will be expected to know when they walk through that first grade door has changed. In many ways kindergarten is the new first grade.

Pennington Montessori offers a unique opportunity for your child to be ready for the expectations of first grade while still being able to explore their world as a wide-eyed student. The Montessori philosophy takes into account the child’s interest and readiness for advanced work. If a child is not developmentally ready to go on, s/he is not left behind or made to feel like a failure. The observation of the individual child by the teacher allows for a curriculum that will see the most success for that individual child. Our goal is not to ensure that our children develop at a predetermined rate, but to ensure that whatever they do, they do well.

Most Montessori children master a tremendous amount of information and skills during the time that they are exposed to this child-centered philosophy of teaching. They takes these skills and apply them to many aspects of their lives; social and academic. Throughout their lives they will consciously and unconsciously refer back to the lessons learned about themselves and others to make decisions.

The Montessori experience for your child will:

• Treat your child as an individual with unique strengths that are to be nurtured and encouraged.

• High expectations for grace and courtesy generally lead to respectful, kind children.

• Mixed ages let children learn from and teach one another inspiring self-confidence and leadership qualities.

• No rushing academics or any other subject: plenty of time to explore, play, and be a child. Children absorb what is presented to them. It is all about the exposure and openness to learning.

• Focuses on the international diversity from early ages — learning about geography, flags, foods of the world.

• No time-outs. Discipline is used to help a child understand appropriate interaction with their world, not take them away from it.

• Materials are fun and really help make the abstract world more concrete.

• Materials are very adaptable to various learning styles (kinesthetic, auditory, visual, etc.).

• Reading method blends phonics and sight word recognition.

• Process-based art that helps strengthen eye-hand coordination and build muscle essential to writing and reading.

• Lots of opportunity to work/chat with other children.

Kathleen Hannah is the director at Pennington Montessori School in Pennington. The Pennington Montessori program is a unique cycle of learning designed to take advantage of the child’s sensitive periods between 15 months and 6 years, when they can absorb information easily from a prepared enriched environment. For more information or to schedule a tour please call 609-737-1331 or visit www.penningtonmontessori.org.

Pennington Montessori School, 4 Tree Farm Road, Pennington. 609-737-1331. www.penningtonmontessori.org.

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