An Independent Boston Day School for Students in Toddler–Sixth Grade

Montessori Kindergarten

HOW MONTESSORI KINDERGARTEN WORKS

Montessori methods can be applied to any level of schooling. Many schools begin at the toddler level, with entry points throughout early childhood and elementary. Kindergarten is a common entry point at many public and independent schools, and that's no different for Montessori schools. So what can you expect when entering a Montessori school at the Kindergarten age?

Children entering a Montessori school at the Kindergarten level are generally entering at the end of the "early childhood" phase, prior to "lower elementary." In a Montessori environment, Kindergarten is the culmination of early childhood and a transition into elementary education.

As with all Montessori curriculum, kindergarten supports the social, emotional, cognitive, and physical development of the child. Teachers encourage students to explore and use materials at their own developmental level and pace. The teachers thoughtfully prepare the classroom environment to invite curiosity and stimulate learning. By making independent choices, the child develops self­‐ motivation, self­‐regulation, and problem-solving skills. Children move from the concrete to the abstract through manipulating, experimenting, and discovering. Teachers find many opportunities to refer children to one another; adults support students’ spontaneous cooperative efforts.

Self-Selected Work

Throughout the Montessori educational journey, a strong emphasis is placed on independence and self-guidance. The concepts of self-selected work, and self-correcting work are hallmarks of the Montessori kindergarten experience. Students work their way through increasingly complex tasks during dedicated work blocks. During independent work blocks, there are no planned lessons or teacher interventions. Teachers are available to students as they select the tasks they need to work on, and strive to attain competency in a number of specific tasks laid out in the prepared Montessori classroom environment. Students learn to persevere, trying multiple routes before asking for help, and to seek out the resources that they need to accomplish their tasks. These independent work blocks encourage students to develop strong executive functioning skills, and intrinsic motivation for learning.

Prepared Environment

Montessori classrooms are "prepared environments" filled with specific Montessori materials, that allow children to physically select the work they will focus on, and engage with the concepts in a number of sensorial ways. By utilizing concrete manipulatives, students can grasp complex concepts, and move on to more abstract applications of those ideas. Montessori materials allow students to develop comfortable routines with different tasks, while guiding the learner to more intricate work with each new step. Materials are organized and displayed in the classroom so that students can access them, and return them to their proper place on their own. Materials increase in complexity as a student moves further to the right down a given shelf. As a student moves to the Elementary level, they'll see many similar materials, but even more complex. Physical materials, or manipulatives, are used across all main aspects of the Kindergarten curriculum; language, math, sensorial, social-emotional, and cultural learning.

Multi-Age Classroom

Multi-age classrooms are one of the first things that people think about when they hear "Montessori." Working with others who share different views, cultures, or ages is paramount to living a successful life inside and outside of school. In many Montessori schools, the Kindergarten year refers to the final year of the 3-6 year old early childhood cycle. This means that the Kindergarteners are in a position of leadership, guiding their classmates and leading by example. Some schools have programs designed specifically for children entering the Montessori environment for the first time at the Kindergarten level. These programs have extra support for students learning the expectations of the environment, which might be very different from the daycare structure they are likely used to. Entering at the Kindergarten level allows the student to be immersed in the Montessori philosophy before moving on to the more challenging Elementary curriculum.

WHY CHOOSE MONTESSORI KINDERGARTEN

While early childhood Montessori schools are the most common type in the United States, there are also many elementary schools accredited by the American Montessori Society. Enrolling your child in a Montessori Kindergarten program will help them develop a love of learning that will carry them through any type of high school or university.

Montessori students tend to score well on standardized tests, and adapt well to new learning environments. Entering an accredited Montessori school at the Kindergarten level provides a great opportunity to get a head-start on the elementary curriculum and learn the routines of a Montessori environment. This approach will give your child the time they need to explore the various materials, develop social connections with friends, and feel comfortable in their routines.

Montessori Materials in Kindergarten

Kindergarten students use a variety of carefully selected materials to help them explore concepts and achieve abstraction. Each aspect of the curriculum utilizes manipulatives that help students progress. These materials are selected so that they follow a natural progression that aligns with benchmarks for childhood development, and serve not to distract from learning, but as an aid to understanding larger concepts.

For math work, bead chains may be used to teach the relationships between numbers, or addition charts could be used to physically show the process of adding different numbers.

Sensorial work may involve thermic tiles that help differentiate and identify levels of heat; or a sandpaper globe that helps differentiate both smooth from rough, and land forms from water forms.

Students progress from manipulating wooden alphabet pieces, to tracing letters, until they are comfortable with the more abstract act of writing and understanding their own letters.

Cultural work may be undertaken with musical instruments, world maps, or specimens of physical science.

Each classroom may have a different approach to storing or displaying the materials, and teachers may focus on different materials, but all Montessori schools utilize concrete manipulative materials, designed with educational and strict safety specifications. Students utilize "real" materials rather than playing "make-believe." When it comes to practical life lessons, students can be seen pouring water from small glass pitchers to cups, or cutting snacks with real silverware (under supervision). Years of observation has indicated that, when given the option, students prefer to engage in "real" behaviors, as opposed to their "make believe" counterparts. This allows students to engage with these concepts at a younger age, and develop a sense of responsibility for themselves and their environment, which is very beneficial to their education going forward.

Kindergarten Curriculum

The Montessori philosophy allows for some variance in the curriculum of any given classroom, but every Montessori Kindergarten student will be able to focus on cognitive development across a wide range of subjects, social and emotional learning, as well as physical education. Students learn about peace, and how to control themselves, as well as how their actions impact others in their lives. Kindergarten Montessori students are prepared to move on to the elementary curriculum in a Montessori environment, or any type of school.

Cognitive

A child entering a Kindergarten Montessori program will develop cognitively in a number of ways. Language skills such as reading comprehension, spelling and writing, and verbal speech are all supported through the integrated curriculum. Letters are taught first by their sound, rather than their "name," which leads seamlessly to reading. Kindergarten students progress from tracing letters to writing on their own, and from sounding out individual letters, to reading stories. Students also progress through math concepts, by utilizing manipulatives. Students learn not only to count, but the concept of quantity based on how many physical objects they have. Students learn skills in numeration, place value, and the mathematical operations. Kindergarten students begin to develop abstract math skills, based off of the concrete work they've done during their work blocks. Students learn concepts of physical science through observation and experimentation. Montessori science education emphasizes the connection between humans and the surrounding environment. Kindergarten students also study world cultures and geography. Montessori map puzzles are a common sight in the hands of a Kindergarten student, and these skills are complemented by learning about history, music, food, and art from around the world.

Social-Emotional

Kindergarten students develop socially throughout their Montessori curriculum. Students learn the concepts of Grace and Courtesy, and display respect and kindness through their interactions with each other and their environment. Children are given the independence to select their own work and materials, and are expected to replace their materials out of respect for the classroom and their classmates. When given this responsibility from a young age, the Kindergarten student will rise to the occasion, and take pride in not only their work, but their independence. One of the most important takeaways from early childhood Montessori methods is the ability to concentrate. Kindergarten students work both collaboratively and independently, but sustained, independent concentration is a skill that children naturally gravitate towards, as it is the basis of further learning and play. Kindergarten students have the ability to concentrate on complex tasks, and transition from one task to another when they are comfortable with the results. Students also learn to understand their own emotions, both when they are feeling positive and when they are feeling down. Students also learn to express their emotions, and take into consideration the emotions of others.

Physical

Throughout the early elementary cycle, and the Kindergarten year, students develop the physical skills needed to reach the next level of their education. Students learn to control their bodies, and navigate the classroom with grace and consideration for others. Students also learn the dexterity skills needed to write and draw through increasingly demanding physical tasks. Kindergarten Montessori students can manipulate writing utensils and paintbrushes, and have developed the dexterity to write, draw, cut with scissors or a knife, and generally understand the way their body interacts with the physical environment. Montessori students use real materials so that they can learn how these materials will react in the future. Children gravitate towards real materials, and concrete actions when presented the option. Children learn how to develop and utilize these skills through carefully planned activities and lessons. This accelerates the development of key physical skills that assist with the overall learning experience.
Kingsley Montessori School
Toddler–Grade 6
Admissions: 617-226-4927
admissions@kingsley.org
Campus Locations:
30 Fairfield Street
26 Exeter Street
Boston, MA 02116
Main Phone: 617-226-4900
Fax: 
617-247-1417