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Your Child Might Be Ready to Start School, Even if You’re Not…

Categories: For Parents / Montessori At Home / Preschool / Why Montessori

How do I know if my child is ready to start school?


As parents, we’re never quite ready for our children to take “the next step.”  It can be difficult to judge when our own children have outgrown the phase in which we’ve mentally placed them.  The parents of a kindergartener may be hesitant to see that their child is ready for Elementary school.  The parents of a 2- or 3-year-old may not see that their child is ready for an educational environment beyond their experiences at home.


In an article in the most recent AMI-USA Journal, Sarah Fondriest wrote about determining “the right time” to transition a young child into a Montessori environment.  She acknowledged that parents have the harder job in this situation: realizing readiness – and letting go.

“The parent has the tall task of allowing their child to begin the process of separating, attaching to others…. becoming part of a greater community in which the parent is not directly or physically involved.  It takes great trust and faith in allowing others to guide and support this very young…child. In short, when the parent is ready, the young child is ready.”  – Sarah Fondriest, “Transitioning Young Children into Montessori Environments,” AMI-USA Journal: Fall 2017. 

Signs of Readiness


At Wheaton Montessori School, we look for several signs in young children that they’re ready – and needing – to begin school.   Toddlers will start displaying these developmental behaviors around the second or third year.


At home, you can look for some tell-tale signs that your young child is read to begin in a Montessori environment.


  • Order:   Does your child crave consistency?  Does your child want items and events to go in an exact way every time?  Does your child seem frustrated when he or she has to go with your schedule, rather than their own?  Is it hard to get out of the house if your child is occupied in a task of his own?
  • Independence: Does your child exclaim, “Do it myself!” when you try to help?  Or has your child started asking for help, rather than being a passive bystander while you do tasks for him?
  • Communication:  Does your child constantly ask – verbally or non-verbally, “What’s this?”
  • Movement: Walking, running, climbing, EXPLORING – these are all physical activities of a child seeking a challenge.
  • Exploration:  Does your child need to touch, feel, or manipulate every new object placed in front of her?  Is she seeking more physical and sensory input, using both hands and mind when exploring something new?


These signs, behaviors, and characteristics typically manifest with toddlers at the same age our classrooms serve – by design.  The true genius of Dr. Montessori was in designing her educational materials and approach to match the needs of the child and the child’s readiness.   When your child starts displaying the above human tendencies, he or she is ready for a Montessori environment.  It’s been designed with your child’s needs in mind.


Yes, it’s hard as parents to determine the readiness of our children; many times, we aren’t ready to see them as being old enough.   At Wheaton Montessori School, our teachers and staff understand the emotional push-and-pull each parent goes through when deciding whether to start school.  Mrs. Mayhugh remembers telling Ms. Chiste that she didn’t think her son (nearly  2.5 at the time) was ready to start school.  Ms. Chiste replied kindly, “He is ready.  His mother isn’t ready for him to be ready.”


If you think your child is ready to start at Wheaton Montessori School, please schedule a tour to see our classrooms humming with activity.  



CommuniTEA: FAQs with Mrs. Mayhugh
Sep 24 @ 8:15 am – 9:15 am

Please join Mrs. Mayhugh for coffee and community as she goes over your “frequently asked questions.”

CommuniTEA: Parent-to-Parent
Oct 10 @ 8:15 am – 9:15 am

Join fellow Wheaton Montessori Parents (past, present, and future) for a morning of socializing and connecting.  Refreshments provided!