Why Stay For The Full-Cycle ("Kindergarten") Year In The Children's House?

Jinny Gonzalez, Director of Early Childhood Programs
Every year, I receive questions from parents regarding the benefits of their children staying in the Children's House for their Full Cycle or "kindergarten" year. I encourage these parents to think about the time children aged two and a half through 6+ years of age spend in Children's House and consider how their experience comes to fruition during their Full Cycle Year.  
During their tenure in the Children's House, a child spends three to four years in the same classroom community. This allows for a child to be among the youngest in a multi-age community embraced by older peers. The full-cycle children welcome the young children and take them under their wing by introducing them to the community's norms and how to be in the environment. Children between five to six years old understand the community's procedures inside and out. They often serve as leaders (or even "mini-assistants" to the adults!) and help the younger children with love and grace. Having experienced themselves being the youngest once, the full-cycle children display compassion and empathy for the less skilled members of the community.

Academically, the last year in Children's House is when all the acquired and refined skills over two to three years are assimilated as valuable tools, and a child explodes into reading, writing, and arithmetic. Beautiful handwork with intricate designs in embroidery is produced by the trained hand of the 5 to 6-year-old. The hand that has developed through the coordinated movements offered in every practical life exercise and the sensorial apparatus is ready to write with pencils. The child evolves from authoring work with the movable alphabet to writing from thought to paper. 

In mathematics, having become proficient in the composition of complex numbers and participating in collective exercises, the child experiences all the mathematical operations with the golden beads and the stamp game. Dr. Montessori understood and designed didactic material to support the evolution of the mathematical mind from using concrete materials for arithmetic to eventually exercises involving memorization of mathematical concepts. In the full cycle, children truly experience the culmination of three or more years of direct and indirect preparation of the entire human being.

As we contemplate the aims of education, it is worth noting that the Montessori pedagogy is not based on giving the child's brain a copious amount of information. The social-emotional development of the child and character traits such as resilience, empathy, resourcefulness, curiosity, self-esteem, and love for learning are also outcomes of Montessori education. Just recently, as an example, a study conducted by Dr. Angeline Lillard published in Frontiers in Psychology found a link between Montessori education and elevated psychological well-being as an adult.

We are happy to share with you a recording of this morning's presentation: Why Stay For the Full Cycle Year? Please consider watching it for a clear assessment of the benefits to your children of completing their Full Cycle year in the Children's House.

For permission to forward, copy, print, or distribute this article, please contact Austin Montessori School at info@austinmontessori.org.
Austin Montessori School is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, sex or gender, disability, or age in providing educational services, activities, and programs. Austin Montessori School complies with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended; Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972; Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA"), as amended, which incorporates and expands upon the requirements of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended; the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, as amended; and any other legally-protected classification or status protected by applicable law.