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Canyon Heights Blog

Making the Transition from Montessori Preschool to Traditional Kindergarten

We know that the transition from Preschool to Kindergarten is a big change for children and parents alike. There are new routines, new expectations, new classmates, a new teacher–it can be a lot to navigate. And it might seem like an even bigger change if you’re anticipating the switch from a Montessori classroom to a more traditional K-8 setting. You might be wondering how your child will adapt to this new environment, or if he or she will be “ready” for Kindergarten. But have no fear! Starting Kindergarten is a beautiful milestone for young children, and a Montessori education serves as a great foundation for this next step. In this post, we’ll tackle the nitty gritty of what to expect when preparing your child for this exciting transition from Montessori-style learning to a traditional Kindergarten class.

Embrace the Nature of Change

While change can be scary, now is also a good time to remember that change is good. As St. John Henry Newman once said, “To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.” In other words, getting ready for Kindergarten means that your children are growing and changing just as they ought. Moreover, it means that they are on the right path to becoming the saints that God made them to be! Embracing the nature of change as a good thing for your child and family is a great first step in getting ready for Kindergarten.

Benefits of Montessori Education for Kindergarten Readiness

At Canyon Heights Academy, Kindergarten is considered the transition year between our Preschool (which follows a Montessori curriculum) and our Lower School (which follows an independent curriculum used by an international network of schools, RC Education). There are numerous academic and psychological benefits to why we’ve chosen this model. 

First, the Montessori education that we provide in Preschool is designed to be like a set of building blocks for your child’s future success. For instance, in a Montessori classroom environment, children cultivate a love for learning, learn to take care of themselves and their surroundings, and develop a capacity to work both independently and with others. In Kindergarten, these qualities will serve as a strong foundation for students as they continue to take on more responsibility for their own learning. Your child will begin to master the concepts that he or she first learned in Preschool, applying existing skills in more complex and nuanced ways. In addition, since Montessori students are encouraged to engage their sense of curiosity and discovery as they explore new material, they are likely to feel more confident when they encounter new and more difficult concepts in Kindergarten. 

Another huge benefit of receiving a Montessori education prior to entering Kindergarten is that it aids in your child’s capacity for abstract and critical thinking. This type of thinking is essential for young learners. While transitioning from Montessori to more traditional schooling, Kindergarteners will only enhance these skills. In particular, they will continue to be taught how to think abstractly in math and language, often through logical games or by responding to critical thinking questions that the teacher poses to them, whether during a particular project or after reading a story. Students will also learn to find solutions in different situations, to approach a problem from different angles, and to understand the concepts of fact and opinion.

Continue Learning in a Familiar Environment

While many things do in fact change when your child leaves preschool, it’s also important to note that thankfully, many things will remain familiar. Leaning into these familiar components can help your child be better prepared to thrive in Kindergarten. 

For instance, the CHA Kindergarten classroom uses many of the same Montessori materials first discovered in preschool. The classroom itself will also look similar–there will be Montessori jobs available on open shelves surrounding the perimeter of the room, and your child will also recognize the familiar designated sections for Math, Language, Culture, etc. The main difference lies in how your child will use the space. Students will still get to study with a variety of these hands-on materials and learning methods, but they will start to use them in more advanced ways as they learn, which is an exciting upgrade!

Circle Time is another routine that your child can count on. Kindergarteners will continue to use the circle as they did in the Montessori classroom–as a space to pray together, to practice skills like counting, listening, and public speaking, and to receive instruction from their teacher.

What Makes Kindergarten Different?

There are also some special differences that your child gets to look forward to when entering Kindergarten. Perhaps the biggest change is that Kindergarten marks the beginning of traditional teacher-led instruction, rather than the Montessori-style guidance provided by the teachers. As they learn in this format, Kindergarteners will gain greater concentration and listening skills.

In addition, at Canyon Heights Academy, each student will get the opportunity to work at a small, individual desk instead of the group tables that are used in the preschool classroom. This arrangement helps promote a sense of individual ownership and responsibility, but also still allows for flexibility in working in groups and moving about the classroom.

Kindergarteners will have a slightly different daily schedule. One of the most exciting aspects of Kindergarten is that students get to leave their homeroom classroom throughout the day in order to attend other weekly classes such as Art, Music, Spanish, Library, Physical Education, and Atrium (a unique space where students receive hands-on catechesis). Attending these Specials allows students to get accustomed to diverse teaching styles as they learn from and adjust to different teachers. This opportunity also meets the needs of students as they grow in maturity and independence at this age.

Behind the Scenes with Ms. Shvetsky: 3 Things to Expect in Kindergarten

To further ease your mind and give you a sense of what’s to come after Montessori preschool, our wonderful Kindergarten teacher, Ms. Natalie Shvetsky, has shared some of the ways that she approaches the transition in order to set up your children for success:

1. Building Confidence

Before diving deep into academics, we first focus on building confidence so that your child feels capable and comfortable as a new Kindergartener. We practice skills like strong public speaking through a variety of projects, classroom presentations, and logical thinking games, as well as spend time reading books as a class in the circle. In this way, day by day, your children will become more and more equipped to express their thoughts, feelings, and needs as they learn.

2. Emphasis on Responsibility

As your children grow, it is super important that they begin to take on more responsibilities. In Kindergarten, children share the daily responsibilities in the classroom. Some examples of these responsibilities include leading prayer, being the line leader (when we move to different locations on campus), taking charge of the classroom cart, or serving as the teacher’s helper.

Another change for Kindergarteners is the introduction of homework. This addition can seem scary, but it is merely another way for your child to begin taking on more responsibility and ownership for their learning. Students will typically receive a weekly homework packet each Friday, which is then due the following Friday. In order to guarantee that your child knows what is expected, I make sure to thoroughly explain the different homework pages during our Circle Time. Overall, homework is based on each child’s skills and needs and is a great tool for reinforcing learning that happens in the classroom. It is also a great way for you as parents to see what topics are being covered each week; this way, you can be aware of how your child is progressing in different subject areas, such as what concepts your child has or hasn’t yet mastered.

3. Commitment to Clear Communication

As parents, you can expect easy, quick, honest, and effective communication from the teacher. I send out weekly newsletters to parents that detail the lessons we are learning, skills we are working on, projects we are doing, etc. Moreover, at CHA, we consider you as parents to be the primary educators of your child. This belief means that we depend on teamwork between teachers and parents in order for each individual child to thrive. I therefore consider it a duty to communicate well about how your child is progressing and to share both the triumphs and the challenges of their growth along the way, knowing that we are working together for the common goal of your child’s success.

In Kindergarten, we will also undoubtedly work on communication among the children in the classroom. At their age, we primarily focus on engaging in conversations that might be difficult or emotional. This includes lessons and conversations about how to communicate with a friend while making sure to consider his or her feelings, and then working out how to find the right solution to move forward.

Starting Kindergarten at Canyon Heights Academy

Kindergarten is a pivotal year in your child’s educational journey. As you approach this exciting change, know that we are here to support you and your child every step of the way. Eager to know more? Be sure to look out for our Kinder Info Day coming up this spring to learn more about transitioning to Kindergarten at Canyon Heights Academy. 

Whether your child is already enrolled at our school or you’re still looking for the right home for your child, we invite you to consider joining our Kindergarten program! At CHA, your child will benefit from small class sizes, will receive personal accompaniment from our extraordinary teachers, and will learn and grow in a safe, supportive, and loving community rooted in Christ. We are now accepting applications for the upcoming 2024-2025 school year. Schedule a tour to learn more or apply online today!