We've previously discussed the goals of a Primary Montessori Program to help Administrators and Teachers keep focus on their program. And to also help parents to begin to understand what to look for in a strong Primary Montessori program. One very important component of a strong program is the 3-year cycle of children. Each child remains in the same classroom with the same few children of their age group for 3 years. Each year a few new 3 year olds come into the program and each age group moves up into the next cycle of the program until a child has spent 3 years in the classroom. It's essentially giving them the experience of being the youngest, middle, and oldest of the classroom and the responsibilities that come with those roles.
One of the greatest difficulties in running a Primary Montessori program is keeping the children in the program for the full 3 year cycle. Most often there are financial issues involved, pressure from family, friends, and neighbors to send the children to the local (free) Kindergarten program.
There are so many reasons to keep a child in a Primary Montessori program for the full 3 years. Unfortunately, many parents don't consider the long-term gain and goals of completing the program - they're only looking at the short-term financial/transportation/social relief that might accompany their decision to leave the program after the second year.
AMS (American Montessori Society) has created a lovely video that outlines many of the reasons for the children to complete the Primary Montessori three-year cycle.
Side Note: We're not fond of the constant use of the word 'kindergarten' used throughout this video. A traditional Kindergarten program and a Montessori program offer entirely different philosophies and materials. We're not sure why AMS uses the term throughout the video. However, the video is well done and certainly deserves 3½ minutes of your time.
Here is a lovely short video (5 minutes) on The Montessori Classroom: “The Three Year Cycle” which may help some of you get a better understanding of how the materials and the Montessori environment works. Interestingly, the video was made by a Montessori graduate.