Our Children's House Community

Preschool & Kindergarten, ages 3 - 6

The Children's House Community is a carefully prepared, child-sized classroom in which a young child can direct their own activity, building confidence and social skills.

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.

A Guidepost Montessori child works with a practical life dressing frame

Practical life activities may appear to be unrelated to “academic learning,” but nothing could be further from the truth.

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.

Practical Life for Logical Thinking

Practical life activities are deliberately designed to have a long series of individual steps, which must be performed in a specific order if the result is to be achieved. Everything is ordered logically, from left to right, top to bottom (this also prepares the child to follow from left to right when learning to read). In order to retain and follow these steps, your child must practice the skill of thinking logically. For example, say your child’s goal is to arrange a vase of flowers in water. He starts to place the funnel in the vase — then realizes that his pitcher is empty! He forgot to go the sink to get the water. He goes back and gets it. Now he is ready to pour — but the water splashes everywhere! This time around, he forgot the funnel. He places the funnel and pours the water. Now, he’s ready to place the flowers in the vase — but the stems are too long, and the flowers droop! He forgot to cut the stems. He goes back to perform this step. And so on.

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.

Child smiling while using Montessori trinomial cube

Perhaps even more fascinating are Montessori’s binomial and trinomial cubes, which are concrete representations of algebraic formulas. The young child experiences this material as an interesting puzzle, fitting together blocks in a certain arrangement in a box. But in putting the puzzle together, her attention is implicitly drawn to relationships between the blocks: the same relationships that she will ultimately study when she learns algebra.

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.

Mathematical Fluency

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.

Math Through the Senses

Montessori children experience the wonder of math through engaging materials that inspire concrete understanding and joyful problem-solving, paving the way for a smooth transition to abstraction. In the Children’s House, children are exposed to rich and varied mathematical materials that build skills gradually. Each child will work with the decimal system into the thousands, will be exposed to addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division—and through this will develop a keen number sense, the foundation for a lifetime of quantitative and analytic fluency.

Montessori’s beautiful golden bead materials introduce the child to the concepts of the decimal system, place value, quantity, and the four operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Slightly more abstract and symbolic, the “stamp game” uses color-coded tokens (where colors express place value) to revisit the same four operations. Older children learn long division from the “racks and tubes,” where sets of beads allow them to literally divide a quantity that can represent numbers into the thousands.

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.

A Guidepost Montessori child smiles while using a land-and-water Montessori material

Working with the land and water form material.

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.

Benefits of the Three-Year Age Range

The Children's House is the first Montessori classroom where your child will experience the tremendous benefits of the full three-year age range. Young children really do love to imitate their older peers, and children who have been in the Children's House for one or two years set a beautiful example for the littlest children. The younger children see the advanced work of the older children, and look forward to doing that work themselves! They also see the work ethic and the helpful actions of the older children, and emulate these as well. The culture of respect and learning is immersive, exhilarating, and greatly accelerating for each child’s learning.

For the older children, it is an opportunity to practice real leadership, in whatever way their particular personality tends towards. Some children love to help the younger children, zipping a jacket, pouring a glass of water, or comforting an upset child. Others take great pride in showing younger children how to do certain activities, or inviting them to watch their work. Still others offer their help with classroom tasks such as keeping the room clean, or scrubbing tables and chairs so that everyone can enjoy the classroom.

The Children’s House offers the 3- through 6-year-old child a wealth of possibilities!

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