What are Best Practices for Moving Children from Level to Level?

pre-schoolers and elementary age children are walking together on a tree log
pre-schoolers and elementary age children are walking together on a tree log

One of the big debates in Montessori has been going on for ages… Transitioning students based on readiness during the school year or solely at the start of a new school year? Smooth transitions between levels in general are key to the success of a Montessori education, ensuring that children progress through each stage of development with confidence and enthusiasm. This blog post explores best practices for facilitating seamless transitions within Montessori schools, emphasizing the importance of continuity, individualized support, and a collaborative approach between educators, parents, and students.

  • Early Preparation and Communication:
    • Open Dialogue with Parents: Initiate transparent communication with parents well in advance of transitions. Regular updates on the child’s progress and discussions about the upcoming level change foster a collaborative and supportive relationship between home and school.
    • Orientation Sessions: Conduct orientation sessions for parents to familiarize them with the goals and activities of the next level. Providing resources and guidance enables parents to actively engage in their child’s transition process.
  • Observation and Readiness Assessment:
    • Montessori Observation: Leverage the power of Montessori observation techniques to assess a child’s readiness for the next level. Observing their interests, concentration, and mastery of skills provides valuable insights for a seamless transition.
    • Collaborative Evaluation: Engage educators, parents, and the child in collaborative assessments. This holistic approach ensures a comprehensive understanding of the child’s strengths, areas for growth, and unique learning style. We advocate for observing the child(ren) in their environment by administrators and teachers from the next level. An open dialogue between teachers (current and next level) and administrators will generate a recommendation to be made to the parents.
  • Gradual Introduction to New Classroom:
    • Introduction Period: Implement a phased introduction to the next level, allowing children to explore and familiarize themselves with the new environment at their own pace. For transitioning toddlers, we recommend that the Toddler teacher accompanies the child in the Primary classroom and stay together for a short while. After a few visits when the child has become accustomed to the new teacher, they can ask a specific question to help them make contact with the new teacher. The transition period may last a couple of weeks or more, or less, depending on the child.
    • Guided Exploration: Provide guidance and support during this exploration period. Encourage educators to scaffold learning experiences, ensuring that children feel empowered and capable as they venture into more advanced activities.
  • Consistent Routines and Environments:
    • Maintain Consistency: Consistency in routines and environments helps create a sense of familiarity for children. Ensure that key elements of the daily schedule and physical spaces remain consistent, promoting a smooth transition without unnecessary disruptions.
    • Transition Periods: Consider incorporating short transition periods where children can gradually acclimate to new routines, fostering a sense of security and continuity.
  • Peer Collaboration and Mentoring:
    • Peer-to-Peer Interactions: Facilitate opportunities for children to collaborate with peers from the next level. Peer interactions provide a supportive environment for sharing experiences and knowledge, and fostering a sense of community.
    • Buddy Systems: Implement buddy systems where older students act as mentors for those transitioning to the next level. This not only builds a sense of camaraderie but also provides additional support during the adjustment period.
  • Individualized Support Plans:
    • Tailored Support: Develop individualized support plans for children who may require additional assistance during transitions. This could include a longer transition period, shorter visits, and extra communication with parents.
    • Regular Progress Checks: Schedule regular check-ins to monitor the child’s progress and adjust support strategies as needed. This ongoing assessment ensures that each child’s unique journey is honored and supported.


In Montessori schools, transitions between levels are more than mere shifts in classrooms; they represent crucial milestones in a child’s educational journey. By implementing these best practices, educators and parents can collaborate to create a nurturing and supportive environment that celebrates each child’s growth and development, fostering a lifelong love for learning in the Montessori tradition.

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