Putting your children in school at the right time can have a significant impact on not only their learning but also their development and success. Montessori schools are dedicated to giving children the space and freedom they need for that very purpose! So when is the right age to start your children in Montessori schools/methods?
The right age to start Montessori education is typically between 2 1/2 and 4 years of age because most Montessori schools are preschools. However, some parents choose to start their children in Montessori from infancy, usually between 8 weeks to 18 months.
When it comes to Montessori, education options are available for infants, toddlers, children, lower elementary education, upper elementary education, and secondary education. Children can get started at any of these stages, and there are benefits at every level.
What Age is Montessori Designed For?
Montessori is a student-led form of education that focuses on learning that is directed by the child. The students gain experiences in an environment that is guided but allows them to explore their own interests and gain confidence as they grow and collaborate.
While this style of learning is mostly directed towards younger children and toddlers, Montessori schools are for infants as young as 8 weeks old through secondary schools and highschool aged teens. Self-directed learning and exploration foster good habits that anyone can learn from, no matter what age they are.
Infant- 8 weeks to 18 months
Many people may wonder what the benefits are for putting infants in some sort of Montessori program because their children are still so little. But this is a time when an infant is growing and learning about the world around them.
Some of the concepts that are the focus for infants include building trust and the development of personality, sensory learning, physical and emotional care, daily routines, and the beginning stages of language acquisition.
Check out our article on Nido: Montessori for Infants for more information.
Toddler, 18 months to 3 years
Toddler programs within Montessori learning are increasing in popularity and act as a soft transition between home and school. One of the main focuses for toddler levels is physical independence.
Montessori toddler activities are simple and suited to fit the needs of the toddler. They often focus on objectives such as self-care, cooperation, physical coordination, rhythm, social development, and respect for other children.
During this age range, toddlers are energetic and full of enthusiasm! In a Montessori setting, the toddler is free to play and explore in an environment that is designed to monitor and guide their learning. This environment helps to create growth and a sense that the child is able to explore the things they want to (and also makes less of a mess for the parents to clean up!).
Children, 3yr to 6 years old
One of the benefits of Montessori learning, especially at this age, is the blend of children of different ages. This is something that is not found in public schools or some other private schools.
In a Montessori, your child can learn at their own pace, being influenced by children of both younger and older ages. This brings fluidity to their learning and prevents a rigid style of learning that often may cause frustration or disappointment in children.
Starting your child in Montessori at this age may help your child learn to work in small groups and independently, explore math and language, as well as enjoy “freedom within limits”. Social development also occurs as children learn to clean up after themselves, learn hygiene, and respect. At this age, schooling is not simply a daycare, but an education system that can produce some of the best outcomes for learning.
Elementary Levels, 6 yr to 12 years old
In the elementary level of Montessori, a child is prepared in reading, math, science, geography, art, practical experience, and sensory experiences. It’s different from desk learning because children are participating in projects, research, discussion, and are working toward becoming independent thinkers.
The teacher in these levels provides information to the student and then guides them to learn more about the topic based on their exploration.
What Age is Best to Start Montessori?
The most popular time to put children in Montessori is usually between 2 1/2 and 6 years old. A majority of Montessori’s are focused on preschool and early childhood.
The principles behind Montessori focus on helping children gain independence and learn skills from a young age. These skills can help the child as they progress and grow throughout their life. These ages are a great time to build your child’s confidence and introduce them into this learning environment.
However, just like any form of education, the best time to start is also a decision that needs to be made by the parents and the children. Infancy may also be a great time to start Montessori because this is a critical period of learning and growth.
At What Age Does Montessori End?
Montessori education goes as far as high school education, from 12 – 18 years old. Montessori in the secondary level includes a rigorous academic study that is full of purpose and prepares teens to become contributing adults to society as well as good citizens. They will continue to focus on well-being and certain aspects of health including physical, emotional, social, and cognitive health.
Multi-age grouping continues throughout secondary education as well as uninterrupted work periods and student-led meetings and collaborations. Upon graduating high school, there are few to no Montessori options.
The level of education obtained by using Montessori is a decision made by parents and children. Montessori is a great option for education, but other options may have benefits that are more specific to the unique needs of the family and child.
If a parent chooses to discontinue Montessori before reaching the secondary level, they should be aware of the changes their child may face upon being introduced to a new style of learning. The education of a Montessori learning style may seem overly loose if a child starts attending another school with more of a desk focus, where there is not as much educational freedom.
Many parents worry about the social and cognitive adjustment when a child goes from Montessori to a traditional school. However, Montessori helps instill confidence in children and helps them navigate changes that are sure to come to each of them throughout their lives.
Preschools typically end at ages 4 and 5, but upper Montessori programs end at age 12. Further education in Montessori is highschool aged. It is also important to look and see what Montessori options are near and available to you!