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 she can be happy and comfortable in a classroom situation. She will begin with the simplest exercises based on activities which all children enjoy. The equipment which she uses at three and four will help her to develop the concentration, coordination and working habits necessary for the more advanced exercises she will perform at five and six. The entire program of learning is purposefully structured. Therefore, optimum results cannot be expected wither for a child who misses the early years of the cycle, or for one who is withdrawn before she finishes the basic materials described here.
Parents should understand that a Montessori environment 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 she 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 her education without drudgery, boredom, or discouragement. By pursuing her individual interests in a Montessori classroom, she gains an early enthusiasm for learning, which is the key to her becoming a truly educated person.