The Capstone Year of the Primary Program
During their third year in Wilmington Montessori School's Primary (3-6) Program, kindergartners enjoy the following experiences:
- Expanded opportunities to explore STEAM (science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics) concepts both inside our state-of-the-art Maker Studio and in WMS’s beautiful outdoor environment.
- Enrichment math, writing and reading lessons that provide a strong foundation for future achievement in the Lower Elementary, Upper Elementary, and Middle School programs.
- Class time devoted to collaborative work with kindergartners from neighboring classrooms.
- Attending Specials classes as part of a kindergarten cohort to practice skills that are developmentally appropriate for growing 5- and 6-year-olds.
- Why should my child remain at WMS for his or her kindergarten year?
- How do the first two years of the Primary Program differ academically from the kindergarten year?
- How can kindergartners be challenged when they are in the same classroom as 3-year-olds?
First and foremost, they are happy here. Staying for kindergarten allows them to return to a classroom, teachers and a peer group that is comfortable. They won’t need to spend the first few weeks of the school year getting to know their new environment.
Our American Montessori Society-accredited lead teachers are well-versed in the academic path 5- and 6-year-olds follow, and, having known your child for two foundational years, they have a keen sense of the trajectory of his or her academic and personal growth.
As the kindergarten year unfolds, parents and teachers alike witness the growth toward what Dr. Maria Montessori referred to as the second plane of development. Children's focus moves away from the structure and order of their safe, individualized and well-prepared classroom environment toward a broader perspective about their place in the school community and society at large. They have internalized what it means to work, begun to recognize their own achievements, and developed enough empathy to guide their younger classmates in the same manner that they were once guided.
The Montessori approach is supported by decades of research regarding children’s cognitive, neurological and emotional development. One important difference between the kindergarten year at WMS and many other schools is the way in which your child will learn how to learn.
While kindergartners enjoy a newfound sense of confidence and take pride in their responsibilities as the oldest children in their classroom, they also continue to develop and learn at their own pace. The firm foundation of sensory and motor-skill training they received during the first two years in the Primary Program allows for continuous cognitive development and a smooth transition to more in-depth academic work.
During the three-year cycle, children work through increasingly advanced and abstract academic concepts as they become ready. Math, reading and writing skills become a strong focus in kindergarten and build upon the concepts learned in previous years. The math materials allow kindergartners to examine math concepts, such as number sense, counting, operations, time and place value, among others, in new and more in-depth ways. Awareness of letter sounds, concepts of print, sight words, emerging fluency and story comprehension all contribute to successes in reading. Likewise, kindergartners utilize those same literacy skills to develop formal writing techniques and explore the many purposes for putting their thoughts and ideas on paper.
By the third year of the Primary Program, kindergartners have a real sense of leadership within their classroom community. They have become experts on their classroom and mentors to their younger counterparts.
Five- and 6-year-olds are ultimately challenged by the self-regulation skills and levels of independence it requires to care for their younger classmates. Your child will have many opportunities to share the knowledge he or she gained in his or her early years as a Primary student. Research proves that this sort of experience has powerful benefits for both the mentor and mentee. Kindergartners have learned to be forgiving, helpful, supportive members of the classroom, laying the foundation for future success.
That same self-control and sense of independence is needed to work through the more challenging work of the kindergarten year. As 5- and 6-year-olds they will experience both new ways of working with familiar Montessori materials and fascinating new lessons with advanced Montessori materials, some of which they will see again in the Lower Elementary (6-9) Program. Additionally, writing and reading lessons begin to look more like that of Lower Elementary students, allowing kindergartners to share ideas, learn cooperatively and collaborate with similarly skilled classmates.
While kindergartners will intermingle with their younger classmates throughout the day, they also begin to differentiate themselves from the 3- and 4-year-olds. During this final year in the Primary Program, the lessons of the previous years come together to build a deep understanding of concepts. This understanding sparks new questions about the world around them and opens their eyes to the endless possibilities of what they are able to learn.