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Parent Perspective: A Mother’s Thoughts on 9th Grade

Categories: Adolescent Program / Fan Mail / General Knowledge Fund / The Montessori Difference

Staying for the Entire Adolescent Program

After the 13 years (and counting!) that my kids have been at Wheaton Montessori, most people who know me aren’t surprised by my dedication to the school. But when John, my older son, started junior high, it seemed that many assumed we would only stay through 8th grade and have him start 9th grade in high school. I’ve been asked numerous times why we decided to remain through the entire adolescent program, with the thinking that it would somehow be a hardship on him to start a year after “everyone else.” But truly, that was never a question. From his first day in 7th grade, it has been clear that he was in a supportive, loving community, with a teacher who cared about and respected him. (Teacher*s*, plural, now, but in the beginning, it was just John-Marc.) I knew that every minute he spent in that environment would build him up, deepen his self-confidence, and increase the natural curiosity and love of learning that his time in the primary and elementary classrooms had nurtured. Why would I want to take him out of that environment one second before I had to?

Confidence and Knowledge of Self Going Forward

 

The results of that decision could not be more clear. Throughout his 7th and 8th grade years, I watched John grow, both physically and emotionally, and I’ve seen John-Marc and Kelly help him navigate everything from minor bumps in the road to huge family changes. The glimpses I catch into John’s adulthood have come more and more often, and become more and more distinct. Even so, at the beginning of his 9th grade year, he wasstill rooted in childhood. If we had taken him out of the adolescent program and started him in a traditional school then, he would have been miserable. Everything–the social challenges, the emotional roller coaster of adolescence, and even the academics–would have been much harder for him. At the end of 8th grade, when the subject of high school came up, he was apprehensive. However, the change in him over these last few months has been tremendous. He is confident and self-assured. He is open and kind. And he has a knowledge of self that is rare in adults, much less 15-year-olds. Now, as he prepares to leave the only school he has ever known, he is excited and ready to go forth to his next adventure. Staying in the adolescent community for the full three-year cycle has set him up to be happy and successful in high school and beyond, and I know he has the best possible foundation to face whatever comes next.
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