As families consider BASIS Independent McLean for their children, the question of, "is my child prepared to transition to this accelerated academic program?" invariably rises to the surface. It might, in fact, be one of the most important questions looming large on the mind of our families.
Unfortunately, there is no "one answer" to this question. It cannot be answered in a blog post; it is highly personal, and based on the child in question. Our door is always open to discuss the transition to BASIS Independent McLean with you, so don't hesitate to reach out and schedule a meeting.
With that being said, after nearly 20 years experience helping students from countless educational backgrounds transition to our program, we have learned a thing (or two!) about how kids from specific pedagogic backgrounds acclimate to the content-rich BASIS.ed academic model. We'd like to dive deeper into how students coming from programs teaching The Montessori Method of Education transition into our program. This child-centered educational approach focuses on developing the whole child via multi-age classrooms, uninterrupted blocks of school work, guided choice time, and learning materials specific to the method. We see many students come to BASIS Independent, particularly in the primary years, having had the Montessori Method of education play a prominent role in the building of their learning foundation.
A few seasoned BASIS.ed administrators weighed in on some of the strengths (and potential challenges) that students from reputable Montessori programs could potentially experience as they transition to BASIS Independent.
Dr. Eileen Finnerty-Rae, Director of Academic Programs at BASIS Tucson, shared the following with us:
"There are many positives for students coming from Montessori backgrounds to our program:
- Students will have 2 teachers to help them keep on task and help them to grow in the subjects where they might have deficiencies.
- Students will have more movement than a traditional school due to moving from teacher to teacher and classroom to classroom. This can be helpful to previous Montessori students who are used to free movement about the classroom.
- Students from Montessori schools generally have good socialization skills and can advocate for their needs, so transitioning may be easier for a Montessori student than another student making the transition to our program.
Of course, as with any students transitioning to our program, there could be some challenges:
- There will be far fewer choices here, and the students will need to adjust to that.
- Academically there may be some holes as students are allowed to pursue their interests (they may be ahead in one subject and behind in others)."
Julia Toews, Vice President of Academics for BASIS.ed, echoes the sentiments of Dr. Finnerty-Rae, sharing, "Montessori students coming from a good, reputable program (with rigorous one-on-one attention) tend to do very well, as they are self-directed and self-disciplined. Two things that have stood out in my experience was that prior Montessori students are very well-behaved and very interested in learning. Sometimes, their foundational knowledge can have gaps as it relates to transitioning to our program."
We had the chance to catch up with a few BASIS Independent parents whose children transitioned to our program from a Montessori-based philosophy. Their praises of and perspective on the philosophy's ability to prepare students for our program, as well as their worries about the transition, were fairly consistent.
Mom to a third-grader at BASIS Independent Brooklyn whose child transitioned from a well-regarded Montessori program, comments, "The focus that kids who come from Montessori have, because they're choosing their work and working on it for an extended period of time, is great. It prepares them to think critically as there is a lot of connectivity between disciplines in a Montessori classroom; a lot of connecting to other things and connecting to self."
Thinking about the transition to BASIS Independent, she shared, "the hardest part [of our prior program] was not having a clear benchmark in terms of where the kids fall in terms of academic and skill development. I really love that about BASIS Independent."
"My child having weekly assessments was something I was worried about but I have to say I've learned it's better for me because it allows teachers, families, and kids be plugged into when there is a gap or something missing in the natural curve of learning."
Another parent of a kindergartner, reflecting on his daughter's transition, said, "she had a hard time transitioning the first few weeks due to the faster pace and more rigorous curriculum. Academically, she wasn't as prepared as she could have been. What I really love about the Montessori school is that she has the organizational and self-advocacy skills that are helping her succeed right now."
Ask any BASIS Independent parent,teacher, or student, and they will share that BASIS Independent places a particular emphasis on organizational and self-advocacy skills. A student entering our school with a strong executive functioning foundation is set up to soar in our program. As for a student who may need some work on those skills? Through BOSS, or Student Support, or just day-to-day experience in a BASIS Independent classroom, that is sure to be an area you will find much improvement in your child, regardless of the educational background they have transitioning into our program.
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