Stories from Arlington families who chose to Stay For K

We - as a Family - started with the Montessori program at Drew model school in January 1999, my son was 3 years old and he had one of the best teachers we ever met, her name was Kathy Showalter.

After two years our daughter was admitted to attend Pre-K, she had a very good and devoted teacher, Diane DeHart. They both kids are Gifted in Arts. We feel like it was the "Right decision" to have our kids at Montessori.we got involved as much as we could, sometimes required some effort, but it pays dividends thorough them.

" I enjoyed the way she taught and the way she got our attention, she loved teaching us. That is something I will never forget. I learned how to do many things the first grade graded program was doing when I was in" K". I love Montessori and will never leave this program" - Daughter in 5th Grade

"What I like about Montessori is that your able to work independently without any teachers on you checking your work every single minute and that the way they teach is more simple and understandable.I can reach as far as I want, I feel like I can reach the stars(and I will)." - Son in Middle School

- Ronald and Janet

A Happy Montessori Family!

Even though we just started montessori last yr, kindergarten is GREAT!!

My girls have made some really special friends! As twins, change can always be difficult, but being in different classes has really made them closer,even! They love spending time sharing all their stories. And comparing the differnt lessons they've had: what continents, # chains, etc, they've learned.

- Esther

My three daughters began Montessori at Drew at age three and transitioned to Spanish Immersion in 1st grade. My husband and I kept all our children in Montessori for the Kindergarten year because we understood and valued that Primary Montessori is designed as a three year cycle. During the Kindergarten year, they mastered the skills they started at age three. I strongly felt that the math and reading skills they gained in Montessori Kindergarten outweighed the benefit of starting Spanish Immersion in Kindergarten. Initially I worried that they might be behind with Spanish the first year, but had faith that they would catch up. They caught up quickly, and are all successful students in both English and Spanish. My oldest daughter is currently in the Spanish program at Gunston Middle School.

I believe that Montessori works best in three year cycles. The final year is when kids "put it all together" academically. My kids also enjoyed getting to be the expert and leader in the class, especially my younger two daughters who don't get that experience at home. It was also nice to have my five year olds in a class they were comfortable in - same teacher, same kids - they are still so small in K.

My daughters made friends quickly in their new 1st grade classrooms at Key, and enjoyed having friends in both schools. Our 6th grader is a very socially aware and confident child. She had an easy transition to Spanish Immersion both socially and academically. Our 4th grader is a little more shy. The first week of 1st grade she talked about missing her old teacher and friends, but both her teacher and I observed that she had new friends right away and she quickly settled in. After learning those lessons, we were able to make the social transition even easier for our youngest child, now in 1st grade. We signed her up for a ASA soccer team at Key during Kindergarten, and because of her older sisters, she visited the school frequently from a young age.

In my view, 1st grade is a natural transition point out of Montessori into any elementary program. I think some parents worry that their kids won't make friends if they don't go to the same school K-5th. Each year of elementary school they change to a new teacher and a new mix of kids anyway. My advice is to have confidence that your kids will thrive. Arlington's elementary schools are all safe and high quality - they will be fine!

- Mariss

My son was finishing his second year pf private Montessori when my husband and I were contemplating our plans for the next year. We struggled with the decision and even went to the Kindergarten information night that the county holds each year. We made our decision to stay for our Kindgergarten year and I can't tell you how pleased we were and still are.

Our son is now in the Arlington Public System and the transition has been flawless. He really excelled in his 3rd year and began to take on a leadership roll which helped with his self-confidence and his motivation. We loved our experience so much that we are planning on sending our two other children through the 3 year Montessori primary program.

- Michele

I have three children, all of whom went through Montessori pre-school and stayed for Montessori kindergarten.

My oldest son, now 17 and a junior at Washington-Lee High School, did Montessori through the Arlington Public Schools, at the McKinely Elementary location. He stayed for the Montessori kindergarten there, and it was a unique situation, because he got the continued, rich benefits of the Montessori classroom but also got slowly initiated into the rituals of the larger public school setting. The Montessori kingergartners in the Arlington schools participate in PE with other kids, go to recess with other kids, do the "specials" of Art, Music, etc., and eat in the school cafeteria. That served to help my son become acclimated to the institutional setting that he would face in first grade, while still having the experience of the cosy, hands-on, excellent Montessori room and teacher.

He then went to Taylor Elementary for first grade and had no problems with the transition. Part of it was due to having been in the public school setting for Montessori, part of it was his personality (very laid back and not anxious), and part of it was that Taylor is an excellent school for Montessori kids to transition into for several reasons. Taylor has a hands-on approach to learning in the lower grades, they allow the kids to get up and move around, they do a lot of activities in the "center" of the room, and they change teachers/classes several times during the day. While some parents worry that this is distracting to their kids, we found a benefit in it similar to what we found in the Montessori classroom. My son found it stimulating rather than distracting.

My daughter, now 14 and in eighth grade at Swanson Middle School, attended a private Montessori school (Arlington Montessori House) and stayed for kindergarten. She then did kindergarten again at Taylor Elementary. She had no problems at all with the transition, and she has an entirely different learning style than her older brother -- yet it worked for her, too. She has an early December birthday, so it worked for her to do a full year of K at the Montessori school, and then she was still the right age (still 5) to enter kindergarten at Taylor a year later. I believe that the kindergarten classroom offered through Arlington Montessori was on the whole richer than kindergarten at Taylor, and my daughter began to read during her Montessori time. At first I was worried she might be bored with Taylor kindergarten, but she had a great year, because the teacher did an excellent job of making the classroom an enticing, interesting, and stimulating place. So much of it comes down to the teacher.

Her teacher also held a special "reading group" for the kids who came in already reading, which is quite a few at Taylor. Additionally, my daughter was preoccupied learning all of the public school rituals (the ones her brother had already gotten by doing Montessori in a public school setting) such as standing in line for lunch, paricipating in PE, Art, and Music, and playing on a much bigger playground. So I think overall, doing kindergarten again at Taylor was a good thing and served as a year for her to "adjust" to public school. She moved into first grade very confident and happy to be at school. I knew some people who put their Montessori K grads directly into first grade in public school, even those who were younger than the usual first grade public school age; but I never considered that, as I think it's a benefit for most kids to be one of the older ones in the classroom -- unless, of course, they are prodigies and need the accelerated academics. Most Arlington schools do an excellent job of dealing with kids of varying academic readiness/development, especially ones like Taylor, where kids are broken into groups based on learning styles/and or level of development.

My third child, now age six and in kindergarten at Taylor, just completed preschool and kindergarten at Full Circle Montessori. He has not had any problems adjusting to kindergarten at Taylor. I think he misses some of the Montessori activities, but he enjoys Taylor for other reasons, and it is stimulating in different ways.

Of my three kids, only my oldest one went directly from Montessori preschool to public school first grade, and as I said, he had no problems adjusting. I have heard of adjustment problems making the transition from Montessori K to regular first grade, but after listening to the issues, the cases I have heard about seem to have had more to do with the personalities of the children involved than with the type of school, and sometimes have had to do with the teacher.

My experience has also been that kids who transition into a "less traditional" public school setting (such as Taylor with the more open classrooms in the lower grades where kids move about quite a bit during the day) tend to have the easiest time of it. Some kids are fine no matter where you put them, while others need more time to adjust. It really requires understanding your child and figuring out what would fit him/her best in terms of a setting and a teaching philosophy.

- Mary