When a child enters the Montessori classroom for the first time, the beautiful materials spark curiosity and interest. It can be frustrating when children learn they must wait for a presentation or lesson before they can begin working with these enticing objects. To support new children, many teachers offer a variety of transitional materials to immediately engage new children in the work and rhythm of the classroom. In primary these materials are usually familiar and more toy-like, such as puzzles or shape matching activities. In elementary, children will find some of the Montessori materials introduced in their primary classroom.
While children may know how to use the transitional materials presented to them, and introduction by the teacher helps the child understand the core concept of receiving a lesson before engaging in a material. They will learn how to carry the materials, how to use the activity at a table, and how to return the item to its place when finished. These lessons are short and simple, and empower the children to explore lessons independently. More importantly, they learn from the first day how to place things back in their proper place.
Over time, the children are introduced to many of the traditional Montessori activities. As children engage deeply with the classroom materials, they lose interest in the transitional materials, and it is time to remove them from the shelves.
Parents can also offer support to their child during times of transition. Here are a few ideas:
- Talk about the new environment and new routines with your child before they happen. If you have time, practice your getting ready routine before the first day of school.
- Involve children in decision making. They can choose a new lunchbox, an outfit to wear on their first day, etc.
- Let your child help pack a nutritious lunch that they enjoy for their first day.
At Arbor, new children introduce themselves to our community and practices during orientation days. Children and parents engage in learning about expectations, weekly schedules, classroom materials, community guidelines, and more. By the end of the week, your child will have all the knowledge and tools they need to get started with regular classes.
What are some other ways you can think of to offer support to children in times of transition?