Although the entrance age varies in individual schools, a child can usually enter a Montessori classroom between the ages of two and one half and four, depending on when he can be happy and comfortable in a classroom situation. He will begin with the simplest exercise based on activities which all children enjoy. The equipment which he uses at three and four will help him to develop the concentration, coordination and working habits necessary for the more advanced exercises he will perform at five and six. The entire program of learning is purposefully structured. Therefore, optimum results cannot be expected either for a child who misses the early years of the cycle, or for one who is withdrawn before he finishes the basic materials described here.
Parents should understand that a Montessori school is neither a baby-sitting service nor a play school that prepares a child for traditional kindergarten. Rather, it is a unique cycle of learning designed to take advantage of the child's sensitive years between three and six, when he can absorb information from an enriched environment. A child who acquires the basic skills of reading and arithmetic in this natural way has the advantage of beginning his education without drudgery, boredom or discouragement. By pursuing his individual interests in a Montessori classroom, he gains an early enthusiasm for learning, which is the key to his becoming a truly educated person.