Each of our five Children’s House rooms are multi-age classrooms led by trained Montessori Guides and assistants. Our highly skilled guides observe each child and create personalized learning plans based on their unique interests and needs. Montessori guides are called guides because of their unique role in the Montessori classroom – providing the guidance, the time, the tools, and the encouragement for each child to progress through the rigorous curriculum, and ultimately achieving their highest potential. The children stay in their classroom for a three-year cycle, culminating in the Kindergarten year.
Each child is guided to develop concentration, coordination, care for the environment, reality-based creativity, and a sense of self within the classroom community. Independence and attention to tasks are developed using concrete materials. It is the task of the Guide, based on the child’s readiness, to determine when the next lesson should be presented. The child is then free to perfect and repeat the work at their own pace.
A Montessori Children’s House classroom allows each child to work, grow, and achieve their potential at their own pace. There are 150 learning activities in five curricular areas:
1) Practical Life: The children engage in a variety of activities that help them develop care for themselves and their environment. Practical life activities serve many purposes in addition to helping children acquire the requisite skills of living. Particularly important is the refinement of fine motor control, the development of extended concentration, perseverance in task completion, independence, and respect for themselves and the community. Examples of work in this area include food preparation, polishing, scrubbing, pouring, dressing, and lessons in grace and courtesy.
2) Sensorial: This area of the curriculum includes material that helps the child understand, categorize, distinguish, and relate new information to what they already know. They learn precise information about the environment and its properties. Each piece of material is designed to isolate a single quality: color, weight, dimension, texture, shape, smell, tone, taste, etc. This sensory foundation provides the base for physical and cognitive activities in all future learning.
3) Language: Language is integrated into most lessons as children learn the proper names of materials and concepts. Vocabulary is enriched through special exercises presented by the Guide. Using sandpaper letters, children are introduced to the phonetic sounds of each letter. They move from oral to visual communication at their own comfort level and begin to write words using a movable alphabet. Crucial to our approach is the understanding that writing precedes reading. Soon children begin to write their own words and stories only to discover that these can then be read as such. This is one of the strongest “sensitive periods” in the Children’s House.
4) Mathematics: Children learn concepts of math through the manipulation of concrete materials that will lead them, at a later age, to think mathematically. They learn first the idea of quantity, then the idea of a symbol, and then understand the concept of numbers and problem-solving skills so important in Elementary I. You often find preschoolers counting or performing equations with 4+ digit numbers. Because of the tangible and visual nature of the materials, the Montessori method encourages children to tackle complex problems early on, rather than shy away from them.
5) Culture Studies: This area envelopes that which is “human” including social activities, science, geography, history, art, and more. Children are often presented with maps, and start to develop a sense of the world along with the continents and countries in it. These subjects are presented in a flexible, responsive manner and the needs and interests of each child are considered as each lesson is offered. An emphasis on respect for nature is a highly valued aspect of this area.
The prepared environment promotes the development of each child’s individual, unique capabilities. Children learn through discovery and exploration. They investigate specially designed materials that represent ideas and concepts found in mathematics, language, geography, art, music, geometry, history, and science. Your child learns to use the classroom materials through individual and small group lessons.
The Kindergarten Year (3rd Year in the Children's House Program)
The kindergarten or 3rd year in the Children’s House, is a formative year in Montessori education. During this year, the concepts a child has explored in the two previous years take on real meaning and significance as the Kindergartener develops higher cognitive function. Not only is this a formative year in learning, but the child also takes on a leadership role in the classroom. They are familiar with the routine, the classroom materials, and are able to complement the work of the guides by modeling proper behavior to the younger children, and even assist them with their work. Kindergartners are the children their younger peers aspire to be like, and to one day, to be doing the more complex work they see their older peers completing. This is a year that builds an incredible sense of confidence and self-esteem in the child, and furthers their enthusiasm for learning. The curriculum includes leadership, mathematics, geometry, reading, writing, geography, and science.