Watching your child grow is bittersweet; on the one hand, you are excited to see them shine with their new abilities, but on the other hand, you just want to hold on to your little one a little while longer. One moment they are your little baby, and in the blink of an eye, they are toddlers and preschoolers ready to go to school.
When families join a school, they often ask to start only a few mornings a week; they know the value of a Montessori school but would like to have the children home. Thoughts like “He is so young,” “there will come a time when he absolutely has to attend school,” or “children need to have time to play” often circle around. I absolutely understand the thought process. The time you have with your little one is precious however there are a substantial amount of benefits to five-day programs.
Time to explore a few:
Children need consistency; now, I could leave this here and not add anything further as this is the primary key and at the heart of everything I am about to share.
Routine is the key to feeling at ease, empowered, and independent. A child attending full time (even if it is a full time, but half-day) they know what to expect in the morning; they understand the expectation and thrive feeling like they know what is about to happen. Separation anxiety is barely existent or incredibly short-lived.
Within the classroom, the children know what to expect. They remember the daily schedule, find activities and projects to work on, dive deeper into subjects they have started the previous day, and continue their activities with their friends. Feeling settled in a consistent routine brings the benefit of child-orientated activity and concentration.
Another factor to consider are relationships. We know this about ourselves, relationships, no matter what kind, bring us joy; they motivate us, help us feel safe, and keep us going. In the classroom, this can be the teacher. Your child’s teacher is building a bond with your child. He or she would walk through fire for your child, caring, loving, teaching, and protecting them at every turn. When a child gifts their trust to their teacher, it is an honor and a milestone on the path they are walking together. Building relationships takes time and consistency, which a five-day program provides.
Your child will not only build relationships with adults, but your child will also become part of a community within its peers. Children enjoy being part of another’s lives; they look forward to each other’s company. As the children grow, they enjoy tackling challenges together, strengthen, motivate and help each other.
When children are exploring and can share the joy of discovery together, it is more powerful than any other experience a teacher can provide to them.
Starting with a project together and continuing it over a period of time, begins as early as two and a half years of age.
Now imagine three children working together and then one is gone for half the week.
Looking at it from both perspectives, the remaining children will continue with the project, missing the child, its skillsets, and the dynamic they have established. The missing child will return to his project being completed or looking different from when he left it. He might have also forgotten what he was working on. To continue with the sequential material, he needs to repeat the previous one without his peers that have moved on.
The worry we might have when our little toddler waves goodbye is short-lived, just watch them flourish in the routine and friendship you provide for them and show them how excited and proud you are of them and their abilities.