Transitions are part of all of our lives. For instance, we transition to a new job or to a new home or to a new college major. We even experience transitions in the seasons and in the weather. A transition is a change that we often anticipate and must pass through on our way to the next step of life. The same is true about transitions at Mountain Shadows.

While transitions are a constant part of your child’s growth, the changes between programs at Mountain Shadows signify particular milestones of your child’s development. In our commitment to support the child, we also strive to support you in these changes by offering insight and encouragement as you take on these new challenges. Over the past several weeks, we have spent time helping parents prepare for some of the transitions brought on by the growth and development of their children. The changes are part of the joy and challenge of being a parent, and we want to help you navigate and understand these transitions to help make them smoother and more natural.


Dr. Montessori believed that meeting the child’s needs involved creating the opportunity for challenges and growth in a rich learning environment. The child from birth to six is constructing themself with the powerful tool of what Montessori termed the absorbent mind. One of the most significant transitions for the young child is from the home to school. Here the child is moving from his nuclear family to a broader community.

This transition to school may happen at any time, but in our program the earliest transition is joining our Young Child’s Community. The transition of separation is challenging for both parent and child, but this transition must be approached as an exciting step of the child’s growth and development. This does not mean there won’t be tears from the child or the adult, but keeping in mind that you are providing your child a rich and supportive learning environment should help with this process. We greatly appreciate the trust you place in our staff to help navigate this transition, and we recognize the challenges of seeing your child begin to take on a new level of independence.

The transition from the YCC to the Primary classroom occurs between 2 ½ and 3 years old when the teachers observe the developmental signs that signify your child’s readiness for this next stage of growth. The YCC and Primary teacher work together to help the young child connect his or her experience to this larger environment with both casual and formal visits to the Primary class. Parents talk with the teacher, observe in the Primary classroom, and are encouraged to continue to ask questions as they transition to this new stage as a parent.


The transition to our Mountain Shadows Elementary program signifies a new stage in the child’s development. Dr. Montessori observed that the child between 6-12 years old is increasingly aware of their place and role in the broader community of their peers. This coupled with a shift to a focus on reasoning and imagination allows the child to perfect themself in this broader context. The transition to Elementary involves a number of new characteristics and behaviors. Elementary teachers discussed this transition with parents during move-up teas that were held last week. The parents of third-year Primary students met to learn about the changes they can expect to see in their children as they enter this second plane of development. They also learned about the many ways the Elementary classroom meets the unique needs of the child at this age. The parents of the third-year Elementary students were given the opportunity to visit the Upper Elementary class and learn how the children from 9 – 12 years old continue to explore and discover while also strengthening their personal and social skills before moving into adolescence. Later this month, we will meet with Upper Elementary parents to talk about the transition to adolescence and middle school. We have also been looking at additional ways to support our sixth-year students as they transition into adolescence and move on to middle school.


Transitions can be both exciting and challenging, and Mountain Shadows is always looking for ways to partner with parents to help children through the many stages and transitions of childhood. To help further support this work, we are currently reviewing books for an ongoing book discussion at each Mountain Shadows’ program level transition beginning next year. Our hope is that this will help continue the dialogue between teachers and parents in support of the children as they go through transitions at Mountain Shadows and throughout their lives.

By Liana Oram, Head of School

A Brief Look at Transitions

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