By Mrs. Sharmila Cappa
This year I have had the pleasure of observing the true benefits of the three year cycle in the Lower Elementary Program. I have been teaching for more than twenty-seven years and I truly understand why Maria Montessori believed that the multi-age classroom is fundamental to the Montessori Method. I have seen my Level Three students blossom into confident and responsible citizens who are eager to learn. They also look forward to assisting the younger students who look up to them. This in turn gives the third year students the opportunity to develop leadership skills and to hone their own skills. Consequently, this gives them great joy in being trusted to guide and mentor their younger peers who they also knew from their Casa years. It’s also a way for older students to build patience and empathy, as they learn how to help others by sharing their expertise with tasks that they themselves have mastered. As their teacher over the last three years I find great satisfaction watching them ‘graduate’ from observer to leader.
I strongly believe that a three-year cycle within a classroom is a more stable student and teacher experience as well. Students get deeply comfortable in a learning environment that fosters their long-term growth, and the Directress (Montessori Teacher) has a chance to really get to know students over an extended period. Rather than putting effort and energy towards adjusting to a new classroom, teacher and peer group at the beginning of each school year, students remain settled in their classroom and stay engaged and focused on their learning process. If it takes a few months for a teacher to really get to know a student, in a traditional, one-year model, a significant portion of the total time in the classroom has already passed. In a mixed-age, Montessori model, the student still has years left to enjoy that hard-earned familiarity.
On a personal level, I have witnessed this with my own son who has been at Montessori School in Kleinburg since two and a half years old to grade 8. He has developed many friendships over the years as he feels that MSK is his second home. His teachers are more like his life coaches who have his best interest in mind. They have seen him develop over the years into a mature confident young man who has developed many educational and life skills. It is my professional and personal opinion that it is worth investing in the foundation of your child’s education. I am so grateful that I am a Montessori Directress at MSK and that my son benefitted from a high quality educational environment.
Mrs. Sharmila Cappa