The classroom routines are built on a minimum daily schedule of 8:15 am – 12:15 pm to provide enough time for full three-hour work cycle blocks and additional time for the children to participate in a community meeting, community lunch and playground experience each day.
Montessori provides a purposefully structured, three-year cycle of learning designed to work with each child’s readiness at different stages of development. For example, between birth and three years of age, children absorb information from an enriched environment; between ages 3 and 6, children continue to acquire information and also refine, label, define and organize this information and apply their knowledge more consciously; between ages 6 and 9, they refine and expand on that absorbed information and begin to focus on social constructs and relational learning, use imagination as a learning tool, and start to see themselves as a part of the greater community and the world; between ages 9 and 12, children become academics and voracious researchers who really get to know themselves as learners; from 12-15 students decide their deeper value as members of society as a whole as well as within their immediate communities, deeply engaging in the work of the heart, the hands and the mind, with a heavy focus on social justice.
In each of the three-year cycles of development, the third year is the “capstone year,” when children come into their own and truly shine academically and socially. The three-year cycles align with different stages of development. At each stage, the first year of the cycle is similar to planting a seed, the second year is similar to watering and watching the stem and the leaves grow, and the third, or “capstone” year is the year that the flower develops. It is the year of mastery, when the developmental tasks are galvanizing and all of the concepts and skills that have been learned to that point synthesize and are reinforced and internalized.
While each capstone year is unique to the developmental tasks of the students in that age group, there are also common recurring themes that are vital to the child’s future success and also to the formation of effective community leaders. These include opportunities for refinement and mastery, leadership, responsibility, autonomy and purpose within the community.