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2 Jun 2015

The facts about the move to high school

Author: Admin  /  Categories: Cycle 3, General  / 

High school is a big step for any child and the truth is that Montessori East graduates transition into high school after as well as any other child.   We know this for a fact because we stay in touch with the students and their families, and every year we invite a panel of students and parents back to talk to current families in an open forum.  

Following is our fact sheet about the transition.

A transition process for all students

The transition to high school is a big change for all students, no matter what primary school they attend. The students are entering adolescence and this transition point is a major event in their lives.  Most adapt to their new setting fairly quickly, making new friends, and succeeding in their new school. 

How do Montessori East students transition?

Montessori East students transition into high school as well as any other student on all measures.   The end of Cycle 3 (primary school) is a natural transition point where the child is ready to enter adolescence with all the benefits of Montessori’s balanced approach across academic, social and emotional development. We regularly survey families and invite graduates back to the school to share their high school experience with current families and invariably find their experience to be positive.

Montessori approach to education

In choosing Montessori East for your child, you chose a philosophy of “education for life” and a pedagogy that supports the whole child.  The formative years from 0 – 12 years are critical for the formation of their character, sense of self and self esteem.  We provide an environment that fulfils the academic needs whilst allowing them to develop in their own time, and acquire a deep sense of who they are and their place in the world.  

Completing Cycle 3 / Primary School

The completion of the Montessori primary program at the end of Cycle 3 is a natural transition point.  A child leaving in the middle of the primary years is likely to experience a much bigger “difference”, both in teaching methods and classroom routines.  The three-year developmental cycle is at the very heart of the Montessori educational experience.  The curriculum, teaching, classroom design, student mix, progress and assessment all revolve around it.  The third year in each sequence is a culminating experience academically, emotionally, socially, and developmentally.  If not followed, a child’s work in that three-year sequence is simply incomplete.  When Dr. Montessori spoke of “education for life” she meant preparing a child for the myriad experiences he or she will encounter, both in and outside of school, which of course includes moving from a Montessori primary classroom into high school.

Planning ahead for High School

The intake years for many schools are Years 5 and 7.  We strongly recommend that parents plan ahead by requesting Year 7 enrolment at the chosen high school.  This allows the child to gain the full benefit of completing their Montessori primary education and a smooth transition into the logical next step of secondary schooling. 

Supporting an effective transition

There’s a shared experience when Year 7 brings together many children from different schools.  All the students will be new to high school routines and the different expectations.  Most high schools have transition programs in place to support the students as they adjust.  Montessori East takes a community approach to preparing the students for transition.  In the classroom, they work on skills such as project work, time management and work planning. Through our alumni program, the students have access to past graduates and feedback from their experience.  Parents can also access the alumni network. We survey graduate families each year to gain valuable feedback on how or students have transitioned into high school.    

Academic preparedness

Parents often have questions about the academic education offered at Montessori East, because it’s a different system. By the time a Montessori student reaches year 7, he or she will have covered the curriculum set by the NSW Board of Studies, the same as every other school. Regardless of whether they go to a private or public school, Montessori students take with them a positive attitude to learning and to life, attracting similar positive feedback. They exhibit high self-esteem, social skills, well developed organisational skills and the ability to work with others. They are inquisitive and know how to ask pertinent questions.

During a child’s final Montessori primary years, he or she develops a greater level of abstraction with academic subjects and moves away from using the materials. At the same time he or she will be guided in improving planning and organisational skills, developing familiarity with standardised testing as appropriate, and working to a deadline.  These skills will assist with the transition to high school.

Curriculum Standard

We base our classroom programs on the Montessori curriculum which has been matched to the goals and outcomes of the NSW Board of Studies Syllabus. Our program is inspected every 5 years to maintain our compliance with the requirements of the Board of Studies.The Montessori curriculum is comprehensive and rich.  However all children are different and some will find that they are ahead or behind in certain areas compared to their peers and relative to their ability.  Typically though, we find that Montessori East children are well prepared academically and have the ability to organise themselves and work.

Montessori and Competition

Montessori is not opposed to competition; Dr. Montessori simply observed that competition is an ineffective tool to motivate children to learn and to work hard in school.

Traditionally, schools challenge students to compete with one another for grades, class rankings, and special awards.  For example, in many schools tests are graded on a curve and are measured against the performance of their classmates rather than considered for their individual progress. 

In Montessori schools, students learn to collaborate with each other rather than simply compete.  Students discover their own innate abilities and develop a strong sense of independence, self-confidence, and self-discipline. In an atmosphere in which children learn at their own pace and compete only against themselves, they learn not to be afraid of making mistakes. They quickly find that few things in life come easily, and they can try again without fear of embarrassment.  Dr. Montessori argued that for an education to touch children's hearts and minds profoundly, students must be learning because they are curious and interested, not to earn the highest grade in the class. 

Montessori children compete with each other every day, both in class and on the playground. Dr. Montessori, herself an extraordinary student and a very high achiever, was never opposed to competition in principle.  Her objection was to using competition to create an artificial motivation in order to get students to achieve.

Montessori schools allow competition to evolve naturally among children, without adult interference unless the children begin to show poor sportsmanship.  The key is the child's voluntary decision to compete rather than having it imposed on him by the school.

Once the children reach high school, they understand the notion of competition very well and their own innate level of competition is by now obvious.  The child is able to adapt to the new competitive environment with a strong sense of their own self. 


The transition to high school is a positive experience for Montessori East students.  Our students go on to a variety of high schools and they are at least as well prepared academically as their peers.  The years spent at Montessori East have provided them with a balanced approach to academic, social and emotional development.  

Graduates reunite to discuss schooling
Jessica Clement
Wentworth Courier
3 Jun 2015

PARENTS of current Montessori East students got a valuable insight into life after graduation last week from those best placed to know – the graduates. Six former students led discussion and gave feedback about their personal experiences of more...

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