The Capstone Year...What Every Montessori Parent Deserves to Know
What is the Capstone Year and why does my child deserve to have one?
We often refer to the 3rd Year a child is in a Montessori program as the Capstone Year. But, what is it really that makes that year so special/important? While the reasons to leave can be compelling and are worth every consideration, we believe the reasons to stay are worth your careful and thoughtful consideration.
Below is a list of 24 reasons we recommend keeping your child in Montessori for the Capstone Year:
- Does your child look forward to attending school? If so, consider yourself lucky. Why tinker with a winning situation when so many other families are frustrated or disappointed with their child’s school experience.
- Your child has waited for two years to be a leader in their class. The third year students are looked up to as role models for the younger students, and most children eagerly await their opportunity to play this role.
- The third year is the time when many of the earlier lessons come together and become a permanent part of the child’s understanding. An excellent example is the early introduction to addition with large numbers through the Bank Game. When children leave Montessori at age five, many of the still forming concepts evaporate, just as a child living overseas will learn to speak two languages, but may quickly lose the second language if his family moves back home.
- As a leader in the class, your child has many opportunities to teach the younger children lessons that he learned when he was their age. Research proves that this experience has powerful benefits for both tutor and tutoree.
- Third Year Montessori children normally go on to still more fascinating lessons and more advanced Montessori materials. The natural process of abstraction or critical thinking around familiar concepts materializes naturally and gears the child up for more advanced skills.
- The Montessori curriculum is more sophisticated than that found in traditional programs.
- Having spent two years together, your child’s teachers know her very, very well. They know her strengths and areas that are presenting challenges. She can begin the year strong, without having to build a relationship of trust with her teacher.
- Your child already knows most of her classmates. She has grown up in a safe, supportive classroom setting. She is learning appropriate social boundaries and interactions with a group of familiar peers.
- If your child goes on to another school, he will spend the first half of the year just getting used to the new educational approach.
- Montessori math is based on the European tradition of unified mathematics. Montessori introduces young children to basic geometry and other sophisticated concepts as early as kindergarten. Our spiraling curriculum means students will revisit these skills and build on them throughout their elementary experience.
- Third Years have a real sense of running their classroom community, an important leadership skill that goes on with them.
- In Montessori, your child can continue to progress at her own pace. In traditional education, she will have to wait while the other children begin to catch up or will be forced to move ahead before she is ready.
- Beginning as early as kindergarten and continuing through elementary, Montessori children are studying cultural geography and beginning to grow into global citizens.
- In Montessori, students work with intriguing learning materials instead of preprinted work books, allowing a student to work on a skill for the right amount of time for their own understanding and not by a predetermined timeline.
- Emphasis is given to the arts, movement, and outdoor education. Exploration and creativity in these areas are continuously accessible and are encouraged.
- In Montessori, your child has been treated with a deep respect as a unique individual. The school has been equally concerned for his intellectual, social, and emotional development.
- Montessori schools are warm and supportive communities of students, teachers, and parents. Children can’t easily slip through the cracks!
- Montessori consciously teaches children to be kind and peaceful.
- In Montessori schools, learning is not focused on rote drill and memorization. Our goal is to develop students who really understand their schoolwork.
- Montessori students learn through hands-on experience, investigation, and research. They become actively engaged in their studies, rather than passively waiting to be spoon-fed.
- Montessori is consciously designed to recognize and address different learning styles, helping students learn to study most effectively.
- Montessori challenges and set high expectations for all students not only a special few.
- Montessori students develop self-discipline and an internal sense of purpose and motivation.
- Three, six, nine and twelve years old are natural transitional ages for children. They are the best time for children to move to new classrooms or schools.
This year they will use funds for a class wide river rafting trip to culminate their studies of the watershed.
This Third Year Upper Elementary student creates the square of 19
using a Montessori Math material, the Peg Board.
If you still have any doubt, spend a morning observing in your child’s class and compare it with a class in the other school you are considering. Sit quietly and take mental notes. The differences may be subtle, but most likely they will be significant. Then project your child into the future and ask yourself how the positive differences you observed in the Montessori classroom might help shape your child to become the teenager, and later the adult, you envisioned for your child’s future.
(Adapted from Tim Seldin’s 25 Reasons to Keep Your Child in Montessori Through the Kindergarten Year, Tomorrow’s Child.)