Why Start at Age 3?

What is the ideal age to begin Montessori school? Age 2.9 to 3! The young child's ability to effortlessly absorb information from his environment is only possible during this window of time. Dr. Montessori observed that during these early months, which she called sensitive periods, a child's entire being is molded: his intelligence itself is being formed! 

The child from age birth to six years old passes through three significant sensitive periods; those for order, movement and language.


During the sensitive period for order, a young child needs her environment to be predictable and orderly. If her life has a rhythm and her routine is maintained, she begins to trust the environment. If her needs for food, sleep and bodily comfort are predictably met as they arise, she uses this satisfaction as the basis to feel secure and to explore her world. The three year-old is at the height of sensitivity to ritualistic order; she still needs routines and yet can begin to create her own order. This is the perfect time to model that activities have a beginning, a middle and an end. 


The sensitive period for movement is the time the child develops his coordination and fine and gross motor skills. Allowing your child safe yet challenging movement without interference develops this skill and his self confidence. It's time to jump, hop, skip, and climb, to carry heavy things, to balance objects on a tray. He needs to use a scissors, to pick up tiny objects and to refine his eye/hand coordination allowing his hand to truly become an instrument of his mind.


During the sensitive period for language, the child can hear the individual sounds in words as she learns vocabulary— an ideal time to begin learning the sounds of letters. During this time she will expand her vocabulary immensely. She wants huge words and funny words and rhyming word and words in songs. Our Montessori environments, rich in vocabulary, meet her word hunger perfectly.

When the children's environment is based on and organized around the sensitive periods, the children work with an enthusiasm and sustained interest that is truly amazing. Their development is strong and steady.

Authentic Montessori preschool is a three-year cycle designed to engage children from age 3 to 6 (preschool through kindergarten). The activities in the first year lay an important foundation for future learning. Over the following two years the activities and lessons build upon themselves at the child's own pace. Parents are often amazed when a child "explodes" into reading, writing, and math during the final year. It might look like magic, but it is really the culmination of the first two years in the Primary classroom. By starting at 3 and remaining in the classroom community for three years, Montessori children have an inspiring educational experience.


From the Mouths of Babes: Our Top 10

Language is essential to humanity, but it is something we often take for granted.  It allows us to communicate our thoughts and emotions and lays the foundation for reading and writing.  It sets apart entire cultures.  

Anyone who has children of their own, or those of us who work with children know the great capacity of their ability to listen and to speak. Maria Montessori, who had her own gift for words said, "At the base of every language is the great register of the sounds of the language - the child. The child is, as it were, a machine made by nature for this task. The child hears the sounds exactly.  That is in itself marvelous....The child has no preparation either, yet nature has given him this immeasurable gift which is that of registering and fixing these sounds in exact measure.  The adult prepares the intelligent part, the child takes it up, fixes it, keeps it." (Creative Development in the Child)

Sometimes we marvel at their words, and sometimes we wish we had been more careful speaking around their little ears.  Either way, children certainly have their own unique way of communicating. In that light, here is the top 10 list of gems we have compiled "from the mouths of babes":

  1. "I know the biggest number in the world.  It's five thousand, two hundred, fifty-three hundred thousand twenty-seven."
  2. Child approaching Guide with a tangled necklace halfway around his head, "Can you help me with this?  It won't fit.  My head grew too much."
  3. Child:  Today is my daddy's birthday!
    Guide: Well tell your daddy happy birthday for me!
    Child:  Ok.  He's turning um, 90, well, I think 91 today.
  4. "We have to have our heads checked to make sure no lace is in our hair." (child referring to a lice check)
  5. "I saw a mommy worm and then I went away and came back and it gave birth to three baby worms!"
  6. "My mom said I can't choose that work."
  7. Child:  "My dad has a job."
    Guide: "What does he do in his job?"
    Child:  "He rides his bicycle all over the place and sells pieces of plastic."
  8. After an informative discussion on spitting and germs, a child excitedly waved her hand to share a comment:  "Well one time when I was a little baby, I stuck my hand all the way down my throat and threw up all over my bed."
  9. "My grandma sleeps ALLLLLLLLLL day.  Until the afternoon!"
  10. Guide (asking a child if he is available for a presentation):  "Are you free?"
    Child:  "No!  I'm 4!"


-Becky (Children's House Guide)