It is also important to recognize that Montessori programs differ from the conventional model in that the programs are multiple years in duration, with mixed age groupings in each class:
- Lower Elementary: 3 years (Grades 1-3 in a conventional setting)
- Upper Elementary: 3 years (Grades 4-6 in a conventional setting)
- Middle School: 2 years (Grades 7-8 in a conventional setting)
- High School: 4 years (Grade 9-12 in a conventional setting)
With multiple year programs, students who enter into the program part way through a cycle, i.e. in year 2 or 3 of a 3 year program, may miss content that might be covered in a different sequence than in the conventional setting.
Students who are coming from a conventional system into a Montessori program face the additional challenge of learning to use Montessori materials. This is not an insurmountable concern as the Montessori materials typically make the curriculum easier to comprehend and are intuitive in nature. However, it is an aspect worth considering particularly for students who have additional learning needs.
Finally, students who have been enrolled in a Montessori program from the start of their schooling have developed “executive functioning” skills that allow them to be self-directed, self-disciplined, and independent learners. Students who come late to a Montessori program, and find success, are those students who have fostered a certain level of independence within the conventional system.