The Children's House includes five different classroom areas — including one for each major academic subject — each with enticing and sequenced materials that your child will be introduced to with individualized lessons over a three-year period. The oldest children in the Children's House are leaders, mentors, role models and helpers for the younger children, and the younger children look up to and learn from their older peers.
Developing Independence through Practical Life
When a child joins his Children's House class, his first experiences will be with the practical life activities. These lessons inspire the child with real-world, purposeful tasks and tools, helping him see himself, correctly, as capable and competent.
These activities are complex, with many steps that must be performed sequentially in order to achieve the result, helping your child strengthen key executive functioning skills. They give a child the opportunity to take on meaningful work that he can complete independently, while developing concentration. The practical life activities also prepare a child for writing by strengthening her hand and reinforcing motions and muscles important for producing the written word. Most importantly, they allow a child to absorb the basic, methodical problem-solving approach that is the foundation for all thought or creative expression, including such diverse areas as math, science, engineering, programming, writing, artistic expression, entrepreneurism, and athletics.
The essential skills developed through the practical life activities will form the basis for all further learning as your child grows.
Developing the Scientific Mind Through the Sensorial Materials
Children this age use their senses to explore the world. They enjoy the beautiful sensorial materials and learn to compare and contrast, to discern slight differences, and to place things in order. Both artists and scientists need the ability to really look at what is in front of them: to notice small details about the world that have significance for their work. The sensorial materials also highlight mathematical relationships that exist in the real world, providing the foundation for understanding arithmetic, geometry and algebra. These materials allow a child to develop mastery over his observational powers: the sensorial mastery of the scientist, the artist, the mathematician.
The sensorial materials also prepare your child for mathematical exploration. Mathematical relationships exist in the real world, and the sensorial materials highlight them. For instance, the “constructive triangles” material is fascinating for four and five-year-olds, who love putting the triangles together in different ways to form other shapes. This work prepares them for the study of geometry, as they begin to understand relationships between shapes.
Reading and Writing Joyfully
The Montessori approach to language study makes learning appear effortless, because it recognizes the individuality of each child. Maria Montessori noticed that in each child’s development there is a moment, occurring at a slightly different time for everyone, when the child suddenly becomes interested in written language. When this moment comes, if the tools are available to feed her interest, she will joyfully “explode into” writing, then reading. A child’s guide watches closely for this moment, patiently building the foundation that will allow your child to experience reading and writing with confidence and joy.
Your child will first be introduced to a rich and varied vocabulary, and will later analyze words into sounds. He will then learn to associate each phonetic sound with its corresponding letter, and trace the letter to internalize the movements made in writing. Older children use the “Moveable Alphabet” to put those sounds together into words and sentences. Five and six-year-olds in our Children’s House typically write beautiful true “stories,” illustrated in color pencil.
This approach breaks down language learning into clear component skills, so that children can grow confident with each step before moving on to the next.
Maria Montessori believed that the human mind—every human mind—is fundamentally disposed to mathematics. Human beings measure things (number, quantity, volume, weight, shape, time), order things, and compare things. Our mathematical minds solve real world problems and help us to invent tools that assist us in living our lives.
Your child will gradually move from performing mathematical operations with these concrete objects, to the pure abstraction of numbers on a page. In your child's mind, basic mathematical understanding will become intuitive, and grounded firmly in concrete reality.
The Foundations of History and Science
Geography and culture lessons in the Montessori classroom offer the inspiration for a child’s future study of history and science. Children’s early experiments with physical properties, land and water forms, natural objects, gardening, sorting, parts of animals, and parts of plants inspire them to fall in love with the scientific world. A child’s work with puzzle maps, flags, cultural items, and beautiful cultural photographs to compare and categorize introduce him to varied geographies and cultures, and represent the first steps on a path that will later lead to the study of history.
Students in the Children’s House community learn the basis for scientific and historical thinking from the bottom up, by direct exposure to the foundations of these subjects in a form that they can understand. Even at a young age, Montessori children feel at home in the natural world, having fostered their ability to observe, their vocabulary, and their explanatory understanding of many natural domains. And they are deeply curious about history, having a sense of where both natural and man-made things originated—naturally giving them a deep and authentic appreciation and gratitude for the things and people around them.
Socializing with “Grace and Courtesy”
Because children in the Children's House move freely, choosing their own work, snack time, and places to sit, your child will have plenty of opportunities to practice social interaction. Montessori guides shares lessons that each child can practice in various circumstances. These simple clear lessons in everything from asking to sit with someone to blowing one’s own nose or saying “excuse me” give a child the tools he needs to interact successfully in his world.
The Children’s House offers the 3- through 6-year-old child a wealth of possibilities!