At the elementary level, both traditional and Montessori elementary schools run on five-day schedules. Preschools, however, are a different story. Preschools (especially traditional ones) typically offer a choice between two-day, three-day, and five-day programs, so parents can choose the option that best fits their schedule and what they feel their child can handle.
At Mountain Shadows we only offer a five-day schedule for our Primary Program serving children ages 3 to 5, because we believe the benefits of a five-day program are immeasurable. At Mountain Shadows, all our policies and practices are child-centered. Children love to learn by exploring and deeply concentrating on their chosen activities. At Mountain Shadows we offer them the freedom to repeat those activities without interruption until they master them. This supports a child’s natural learning process. Thus we believe a five-day program is in the best interest of your young child. For children ages 3 and 4, you may choose between a half-day and a full-day program. Children ages 5 and up attend full-day programs.
Imagine you are very excited about beginning a new project today, such as learning to process digital prints from your camera, cutting and sewing a quilt, or building a new deck. You assemble the materials and begin. The joy of this process is very fulfilling, and you look forward to tomorrow when you can continue.
Something comes up, however, and you can’t get back to this labor of love until Wednesday. On Wednesday you assemble your materials, and the thrill of this work returns. You know, though, that tomorrow you will again be unable to return to this work. On Friday your enthusiasm is dampened. You have to assemble your work again, re-trace your steps, and try to remember where you left off Wednesday. If this frustrating sequence of on-again, off-again continues, you soon lose interest in the project.
So it is with children. Starting a new learning activity is easier with consistency. It helps children maintain their enthusiasm and interest if they are allowed to continue. Waiting entire days between stages of activities causes them consternation, just as it does to you. The process of developing longer and longer attention spans is also thwarted when whole days intervene.
Additionally, there are so many activities in a Montessori classroom that no child can possibly complete them all in the school year. Imagine how much more learning can be opened up for a child who doesn’t have to limit her or his attendance to two or three days a week!
The Montessori program is designed to meet each child’s interest at his or her particular age. Missing out on many of these activities simply limits the customized possibilities that a child can enjoy.