By Delila Olsson & Kelly Hale
Somewhere around age six, children will begin showing signs of moving into what we Montessori educators refer to as the second plane of development. This developmental change is signified by higher energy, greater physical strength, keen interest in socialization and social justice, a strong and active imagination, a gregarious attitude, and an increased intellectual curiosity about a wide variety of subjects. We know that a child’s transition to Elementary is most successful when parents offer the following kinds of support at home:
Practice clear communication and uphold boundaries: Offer age-appropriate behavioral expectations at home and consistently follow through with logical consequences.
Encourage independence and responsibility: Provide your child with many opportunities to contribute to the family, such as: Helping to prepare, serve and clean up after meals; taking responsibility for chores around the house, yard, or garden that contribute to family life; putting away their own toys, clothing, and belongings; taking care of personal spaces (making bed, wiping bathroom counter, etc)
Build unstructured time into your child’s daily life: In the Elementary class, we ask the children to manage a three-hour work time with (mostly) their own choices. Unstructured time at home – free play, time alone, reading, reflecting – helps them adjust to an environment of independent choice-making and self-direction.
Reduce/limit screen time: As much as possible, resist the temptation to allow screen use to dominate a child’s summer break – and encourage outside time, explorations in nature, creative activities.
Read aloud to your child every day: Read something slightly above your child’s own current level of skill, and discuss the concepts that have been introduced.
Actively listen to your child read aloud: And engage in conversation about the passage that was just read to emphasize comprehension.
Consider a summer reading program to support retention of knowledge and skills over the summer: OSU offers a great Beginning Reading Program in Portland (call 800-715-3136)
Offer your child a special journal in which to record his/her summer experiences: Occasionally refer to the journal and recall memories together, to give a sense of purpose to the writing work. Except for the accurate spelling of days and months, do not make spelling a focus when your child shares their journal writing with you.
If you don’t already have one, get an analog clock – Place the clock in a space where your child will see it daily, practice telling the time, and point out other analog clocks you see in various places.
Expose your child to other adults: To introduce your child to unique styles and ways of doing things, consider enrolling them in some summer extra-curricular activities or camps.